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.
One of the best things I can say about books I read is that I didn’t take very many notes. I’m a highly critical reader, so typically I scribble down page after page of them. When I don’t, I know that I truly enjoyed something, and that, despite one glaring issue I had, is the case with Well Played.
I’m a big fan of nerdy romances, which this is, and I absolutely love the trope of miscommunication in the form of “Oh, no, I thought I was writing to this person, when really it was someone else entirely!” You see it most often in historical romance, because that whole letter writing thing doesn’t translate super well to the modern age.
I’m glad to say that Jen DeLuca found a way to make it work.
This is a fast-paced, cute, quirky romance with two very likable main characters set during a Renaissance Faire. The chemistry between them is believable, the angst makes total sense, and even the support cast was solid.
My one issue is the same one my co-blogger had with the first installment: where are all the people of color?
This is set where I used to live. For six years. The racial breakdown there is dissimilar than much of the country in that over 30% of the population is Black. The whole time I read this, I kept thinking to myself, “Where are all the Black people?”
I went to the local Ren Faire every year, and guess what, I saw plenty of Black and Asian and Latinx people there. I set this book down a while ago, and as I sit here writing out this review, I’m struggling to remember if there was even a single offhand mention of a person of color. Which, in this day and age, is kind of unforgivable, especially since I can attest to how diverse the area is.
So while I enjoyed this book, I really hope to see more inclusiveness and diversity from DeLuca in the future.