Well Played wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as good as Well Met. This was enjoyable, interesting in some parts and entertaining Renaissance Faire romance.
Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca
Publication Date : September 22nd 2020
Publisher : Berkley
Genre : Romance / Contemporary
Pages : 323
Disclaimer – I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks to PRH international and NetGalley.
This post contains affiliate links.
Previous book in series-
Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.
Well Played was interesting sequel to Well Met that revolved around Stacey’s love story. It was about friendship, family, spreading wings, living for yourself once in a while, trust, betrayal, and love.
Writing was the best part of the book. It was gripping and fast paced with first person narrative from Stacey’s POV. Like first book the setting of Renaissance Faire was amazing.
Unlike Well Met, this took place over the course of the year, starting from Faire and ending with it. Plot was simple but I think that synopsis wasn’t that good. First, Stacey didn’t receive email out of blue, she was the one who wanted to contact him and got reply. Second, it already says man she was talking to for most of the book wasn’t Dex. Also, the description of team of Duelling Kilts and that cover in first chapter only made it pretty obvious who Stacey was talking to so when the twist arrived in middle of the book it didn’t surprise me.
It started with Stacey realising how boring her life was. She was stuck behind in Willow Creek still living in her parents’ house while everyone’s life moved on and something exciting happening in their life. The feeling cemented even more when she heard the news of Emily and Simon’s marriage. In drunken haze and desperation, she comments on Duelling Knight’s page hoping hot and sexy playboy Dex, she was sleeping around with no string attached, would reply her message and they can find connection deeper than physical relationship they had. When Dex, to her surprise really message her and they start talking with each other over emails and text messages for months, she found emotional connection and started to fall for the man more because of his words than his looks.
But just when the Faire was starting, she discovered she wasn’t talking to Dex. It was his cousin Daniel. (We know that from the first chapter so I don’t think that’s spoiler) It was interesting to read what she would so now with this jarring (for her of course, not for readers) truth, was it really Daniel or was he just voice of Dex, would she give Daniel a second chance, and what would she do when the faire ends with her love traveling across the country while she was stuck in Willow Creek.
I enjoyed seeing characters from the first book specially Emily, April and Mitch. They were amazing friends to Stacey. They all were secondary characters here but it was interesting to see them from Stacey’s perspective and it only gave more shine to their character.
But main characters of this story Stacey and Daniel were not as good as Emily and Simon. I remembered Stacey from the first book playing Beatrice character in faire for long time, always smiling and cheerful. What I liked most in this book was knowing her more closely, seeing side of her that wasn’t there in first book.
Stacey was lively, food loving, cheerful, with amazing fashion sense plus-size heroine. I admired her for not leaving Willow Creek to chase her dreams and stayed behind to take care of her mother when she had heart attack after her graduation. I loved her for not regretting that decision ever. It was genuine to feel tired of monotonous life, need for excitement and adventure that she only got during Faire season, wanting to move on or at least a romantic love of life. But problem was that feeling of hers got a bit repetitive in the story. I didn’t like her for assuming that her parents wanted her to stay than just talk about it and get it cleared with them and when she actually got the chance to get out of the town her instant response was ‘No’. Another thing I didn’t like, she was easily forgiving and easily giving away second or third chances instead of making man work to earn her trust and love.
Daniel was understanding, caring, responsible who loved Stacey for long time but could only express it under name of his cousin Dex. Reading his explanation for that even made sense. I could understand what it’s like to be invisible because of Dex’s look and always compared to handsome looking talented cousin while he didn’t have any other talent than organising his cousin’s band. But god, man didn’t even fight to win Stacey’s trust when he broke it, he couldn’t even think about big gesture and tried to make things clear through email!
Romance was okay. I loved Stacey and Daniel’s conversation, all that getting to know each other chat and understanding between them but I didn’t feel that chemistry.
Best part of the book was– Like I said, knowing Stacey better, email and text conversations between Stacey and Daniel, Emily’s wedding, and obviously Renaissance Faire and not just of Willow Creek but also Maryland Ren Fest and everything related to faire. I also enjoyed Daniel’s thoughts on nomadic life, its upside and downside.
Climax was interesting. I was expecting something dramatic was going to happen but not this. I was thinking they were past that and I didn’t like Daniel for that. End was good.
Why 3 Stars-
Like I explained, big twist was revealed in synopsis, cover and also in just first chapter. I didn’t feel the chemistry and didn’t like main characters as much as I expected.
Overall, Well Played was enjoyable, interesting in some parts and entertaining romance with amazing setting.
I recommend this if you like,
plus-size heroine book
Renaissance Faire setting
Small town setting
entertaining and enjoyable moments
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