If you had asked me prior to reading this book if I would have enjoyed a romance set in the very niche world of the Ren Faire, I would have chuckled in your face and pretended I don’t have a secret passion for medieval sport and turkey legs, but Well Met let my true nerd come out and I loved every second of it. And fellow nerd, you will too.
What’s It About?
Well Met takes place primarily at an annual Renaissance Faire in the small town of Willow Creek. The setting is part of the book’s appeal, for sure, and it’s used quite effectively. Renaissance Faires are a very niche setting, but even if you haven’t been to one (like yours truly), you can still picture it in your head in great detail. The wenches, the copious amounts of beer flowing, and the dirt. Oh, so much dirt.
Our protagonist, Emily (great name) signs up to volunteer for the Faire because her niece desperately wants to take part, and an adult relative is required for a teen to be involved. Initially, Emily’s not really into it, but she sucks it up for her niece. Rather quickly, Emily gets drawn into the magic of production and decides she wants to help improve the Faire, which has remained the same for years. This leads to her butting heads with Simon, the crotchety, rule-abiding director of the Faire. Do I sense an enemies-to-lovers trope?
Gotta Love a Good Trope
The romance between Emily and Simon is perfection. It’s ingenious really – allowing these characters to hate each other in real life while flirting and charming each other as their medieval alter-egos. There’s a very Pride & Prejudice vibe to the romance because they’re both prone to assumptions about each other’s character, based on preconceived notions rather than any sort of factual information. Even though Emily takes an immediate disliking to Simon for his seriousness and general stick-in-the-mud attitude, it’s adorable how hard it is for her to maintain her loathing sentiments. It’s clear that Emily is a naturally trusting person who thinks the best of others, because the moment Simon shows an ounce of kindness or does something nice, her opinion of him changes. Their dynamic is a bit all over the place, with her feelings towards him constantly shifting. It works for the story and for her character. It’s quite relatable to feel like you have no idea what’s going on when it comes to romance, isn’t it? But in the end, they figure it out. (C’mon that’s not a spoiler. It’s a romance novel!!)
In addition to that love story, there’s the love story between Emily and Willow Creek. Emily comes to the town out of necessity – her sister was in a car accident and needs help taking care of her daughter while she recovers. Emily doesn’t think she’s cut out for small-town life and views this setup as strictly temporary. The idea of everyone in her business is not an appealing one. But just as Simon grows on her, so too does Willow Creek. Yeah, people are in her business, but she realizes it comes from a place of love and care rather than just general nosiness. By the end of the book, it’s clear that Emily sticks around for the town itself, not just because Simon turns out to be sort of perfect in every way. Plus who can resist a town where everyone ships you and your new hot boyfriend? We all need that kind of support in our lives.
Read It! Huzzah!
Well Met is refreshing, funny, and Shakespeare lovers will be tickled by many references to the immortal bard scattered throughout the book. The romance was hot, the characters well-developed, and I can already tell this is a book I will be returning to time and time again. I might even hit up a Renaissance Faire this year. If you want to join, the first turkey leg is on me.