Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

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Star rating: 3 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

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.

General information: This was published in September 2020 by Berkley Books.

My thoughts:

Meh.

I really wanted to like this one.

It was an easy read- I finished it in less than a week, even with the holidays- but I feel pretty ambivalent about it. I think I gave the first book in the series, Well Met, 3 stars as well, but I finished that one in about 2 days and raved about it to my friends. It had its issues, but I really enjoyed reading it.

This one, I felt much less… rave-y about. Warning, this review will get into mild spoiler territory as I talk about the love interest, so if you want to go into it knowing absolutely nothing, then avoid this post.

I loved Stacey’s character and the fact that she got a whole novel- she was one of my favorites in the first book- and I loved all the glimpses we got of Simon and Emily’s lives.

I also thought the ending was built up well- Stacey had a lot of character growth and I really liked where she ended up as a person.

The love interest? Him, I wasn’t as enthused about.

I knew from the first few pages who the actual love interest would be (not really a surprise, it’s a romcom after all, that’s kind of the point) but I wasn’t happy with the way they fell in love.

I thought the emails and texts were sweet, but the big reveal about his identity fell flat for me. Personally, I would have been much less quick to forgive than Stacey. If someone had been lying to me- basically catfishing- for almost a year? Hell no. Goodbye. Throw the whole man out.

He didn’t even have an especially good defense, in my opinion. And he kind of oozed a specific sort of creepiness, to me? He felt too good to be true, in a bad way.

Of course, I still read the whole book because I was invested in Stacey, but him? Couldn’t have cared less about. Part of me wishes she had just done her own thing in the ending but hey, what do I know.

This one wasn’t for me, ultimately, but someone else may love it. I’m glad I got it from the library because I don’t plan on reading this one again, unlike the first one.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this installment in the series yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

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