Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Well Met #2

Well Played

Rate this book
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.

332 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 22, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jen DeLuca

8 books3,366 followers
Jen DeLuca was born and raised near Richmond, Virginia, but now lives in Arizona with her husband and a houseful of rescue pets. She loves latte-flavored lattes, Hokies football, and the Oxford comma. Well Met is her first novel, inspired by her time volunteering as a pub wench with her local Renaissance Faire.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,548 (13%)
4 stars
9,653 (37%)
3 stars
9,914 (38%)
2 stars
2,448 (9%)
1 star
370 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,662 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,197 reviews40.6k followers
October 24, 2021
I couldn’t be happier to turn back to Willow Creek for second tango for the Renaissance Fair! So when I got my ARC and after a few screams, unsuccessful handspring trials (which ended with hitting my right foot against the wall and limping like Kaiser Soze throughout the day), sipping mimosas, having the longest brunch party (me, dogs, husband who secretly empties his plate filled with my homemade Eggs Benedict into flower pots –yes, my flowers looked like famous flower at the Little Shop of Horrors after that experiment-) later, I excitedly gets it into my hands and started devouring it.

Good thing about the book is: we have another sweetest, charming, romantic, shy, a little insecure hero: Daniel Mac Lean (redhead Irish: combination of younger Damian Lewis and James McAvoy) we may easily adore. And we have also likable heroine Stacey (Anastasia is her real name but thankfully she doesn’t use that name and it didn’t ruin the book for me with FSOG vibes. Amen to that!) stuck in a town, bored with her job, watching her friends settle down, chasing their dreamy jobs and getting married as she lost her dream career about fashion by choosing her family and taking care of sick mother.

But now only good thing she likes about her life is Renaissance Fair and her hookup with Dex Mac Lean: leading singer of Dueling Kits, looking like Chris Hemsworth’s Irish version ( yes, dynamitic combination! As soon as you visualize you can’t help your hyperventilation!) But Stacey just bored to have friends with benefits relationship. She’s looking for something real. And now Simon and Emily’s engagement makes her more worried. She is happy for them but she feels lonelier, feeling like losing another friend who is about to get settled.

After facing her realties and too much drink later, she makes a brave also silly move and writes a drunk email to Dex. She wasn’t truly into him but she needs something concrete for her life, right? And surprise, surpsie: he answers back: they start to write emails, texts each other sharing their intimate secrets for 11 months and when the fair reopens Stacey realized: somebody reenacted Cyrano Bergerac game! She wasn’t writing to Dex all the time. She was connecting with his cousin Daniel.

She had her suspicions because the guy who was writing to her gentle, chivalry, sweet and friendly and he can pour his feelings into the writing. He is not an egotistical manwhore like Dex! She was falling in love to the wrong guy from the beginning. So will she give him a second chance? Could be Daniel the one?

I think I enjoyed both characters and their sweet love story: Cyrano Bergerac theme but the reality about Stacey’s hookup with Dex and her admiration about him at the beginning irritated me. Maybe I’m a little old school and this is not a real love triangle because two guys don’t fight for a girl but I still feel bad for Daniel, even though he lied to Stacey at the beginning.

The second fact that we welcomed back Emily and Simon again but as far as I see: they are so many parts about them in the story and I thought they’re not the supporting characters, they are still main characters and it seemed like a short novella about their marriage inserted into this novel which gives us less chapters about Daniel and Stacey. Till the second half of the book: Stacey still didn’t know who she was communicating with and their relationship parts evolved so fast. I wish we may spend more time with them.

Overall: I still enjoyed the writing, the entertaining Renaissance theme, soft, sweet romance but I didn’t enjoy this second installment as much as I liked the first one. I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars and I finally decided 3.5 stars and rounded them up to 4 because of lovely, mud pie hero!
A kind request to the author; I’m begging you dear Jen DeLuca, please give us Mitch’s book! Thanks a lot!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this sweet, entertaining ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,168 reviews98.2k followers
August 19, 2020

ARC provided by Berkley Romance.

1.) Well Met ★★★★

"It all started with a necklace."

When I tell you that Ren Fest romances are maybe a kink of mine, I am being completely truthful. I grew up going to a renaissance faire in Michigan every summer for my whole life. It was always such a magical experience walking through the gate and feeling like I entered a completely new world, filled with magic and music and fae and I truly looked forward to it every summer! Now I’m much older, and I live in a very warm place, and you know… we have this whole pandemic going on, so Well Played was just the perfect romance escape for me.

The second book stars Stacey, who was the other tavern wench with Emily in book one! This book starts out at the end of the faire, and we quickly learn about Stacey’s friends with benefits situation she has going on with Dex, one of the brother in The Dueling Kilts band!

But with faire season coming to and end, and Dex and his band going to the next one, Stacey is thrust back into her life where she is a receptionist living in a studio apartment over her parents’ garage. After college, she had big dreams to move away from her childhood small town, and going to New York to pursue her passion for all things fashion, but her mother started having health complications and she felt like she was much more needed at home with her family.

Emily has a lot of exciting things going on after everything that happened in Well Met , and Stacey is helping her and her sister, April, plan many things! She is also taking part in both of their separate book clubs which are vastly different, and it just really warmed my heart, because we love a good bookstore setting too, am I right?

Stacey is very much feeling the pressure of society’s expectations because she is approaching her later twenties, and she is still very much single, and very much aware because of social media that her friends (who did move away form Willow Creek) are starting their lives and even their own families. So one night, after missing her summer fling a little too much, and maybe drinking a little too much wine as well, she writes to Dex via the band’s facebook DMs. And after waking up slightly mortified, she realizes that she received a very nice message back.

"A watched pot never boils, and a watched phone never… lights up with a text. Something like that."

After this, we get to see Stacey live this year of her life corresponding with maybe the love of her life, while also prepping so much for the next summer’s Ren Fest! But as the dates go by, and the anticipations builds and builds, she starts questioning a lot of things. (Somewhat spoiler alert and warning: do not be like me, get too curious for your own good, and look at the cover of this book to see the dude’s hair color!)

That’s pretty much all I can say without giving anything else away! I will say that I didn’t like how Stacey had to do almost everything, even though she is valid, I just wish the love interest would have proven himself (and his sincerity with his mistakes) a lot more in every situation. Truly, Stacey was a bit too good for him, in my humble opinion. Also, I feel like at times Stacey would feel a bit dated, or not like she was twenty-seven. No one that age is #PSLs in 2020, I’m so sorry baby.

But if you’re looking for a cute romance, with some amazing settings, and some really swoon-worthy banter, then I really suggest picking this one up! Also, Stacey is plus-sized and talks about her body image and her journey with her confidence a lot and I really loved that as well. Also, this has a really great subplot about family expectations and how hard it can be to leave your family, especially when you feel like they need you! Yet, how it is also really important to chase your own dreams and live the life you want to live, regardless of how unconventional it may seem to others!

Overall, this was just such a fun read! And I truly believe Jen’s settings are a tier above. Also, the next book, Well Matched , is Mitch and April’s book and when I tell you the thought of them together makes me banshee scream with love, whew.

Trigger and Content Warnings: talk of loss of a loved one in the past (to cancer), talk of difficulty conceiving children in the past, talk of heart attacks in the past, a lot of talk and thoughts of body image, anxiety depiction, and catfishing.

Full disclosure: I do consider this author my friend, so there could be subconscious biases here, but this rating, this review, and these thoughts are honest and my own!

Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

Buddy read with Amy! ❤
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
August 26, 2020
While I did overall enjoy this one because this series as a whole is just so! much! fun!, I did have a few issues with it. The relationship at the center of the book is established by a year-long catfishing scenario and the heroine just kind of... gets over it immediately as if that isn't a horrible thing to do to someone for AN ENTIRE YEAR????? Granted, that is in the synopsis so I knew what I was getting into, but the pacing of the whole situation felt really off and it just didn't work for me. So that combined with me not really liking Stacey as a main character kept me from loving this one like I hoped I would. With all that being said, I still very much intend to carry on with the series because I CANNOT WAIT for the pairing that the next book is going to follow.

TW: catfishing
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.4k followers
December 7, 2020
the things i loved about ‘well met’ (i.e. simon the pirate and the ren faire) were missing from this and i totally felt their absence.

i understand the pressure JD must have felt with this sophomore novel, especially with it being part of a series - she probably didnt want to it to seem like she was copying and pasting things from the first book. but they made the first book successful. so when you remove those things, what do you have left?

i guess it just leaves the characters and their chemistry, which i also found a bit lacking. stacey and daniel just did not have the spark that simon and emily did. the connection does get better as the story goes on (or maybe i just started not caring as much) and i honestly did find stacey super relatable. so those are positives.

overall, not a terrible book, but definitely not as enjoyable as i found ‘well met.’ hopefully the next book in the series faires better.

3 stars
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,596 followers
October 25, 2020

Ouch, this review is gonna be sad to write because I absoluteley adored Well Met. But this one... this was just a miss.

So, what's this book about?
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.

My first issue was with Stacy. Oh my word, she was annoying and quite boring. From the start, she was complaining about how boring her life was. Listen, I get it. The theme of spreading ones wings it totally a great theme but it simply wasn't well done.

Rather than recognizing that she needed a change, Stacy simply complained and moped around. After having a brief thought of Hmm, maybe I need a change, rather than trying to shake things up, she was just Eh, who cares. I'll just post a picture of me with a pumpking spice latte

That was another thing. She had a problem with social media that I feel wasn't properly addressed. It was kind of mentioned but not as much as I wish it had been considering she basically was addicted to it.

I just did not like Stacy. I don't fully remember what role she played but I feel like I liked her more as a background character.

Next thing I didn't like was the romanticized catfishing. I wish I could say I was joking.
So, Stacy drunk texts Dex and begins a conversation with him. After many months of flirting and then getting to know him, she is shocked to find out he isn't Dex. DUN DUN DUNNNN

It turns out that it's his cousin Daniel. Now, Stacy has an intial reaction that most people would. She freaks out and gets super mad. But then... she just meets him in real life with the goal to make amends. Not to kick him to the curb and block him. No. To make amends. LIKE WHAT.

If someone catfishes you, no matter how charming or handsome, you forking dump them.

My final issue is that this book simply wasn't as charming, heartwarming and deep as Well Met. Well Met had some serious themes like dealing with body insecurity and grief. It also had two lovable and relatable main characters. This book had none of that. It was cookie cutter, dry and unlovable. I am quite disappointed.

I just hope the next book is better.

| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
September 5, 2020
This was a HUGE miss for me, which makes me so sad because I really loved Well Met. But, for some reason, the writing, the characters, and the romance just were not for me.

From the beginning, I really found it hard to like Stacey's character. She complains so much about her life and staying in a small time to be there for her mom when she was sick; she is pretty resentful that she never got to leave and chase her dreams. Now, she's 27 and nothing is keeping her in the small town except for her fear of moving away and something happening to her mom. Seeing as I'm the same age as the main character, I found her annoying and couldn't feel compassion for her. Stop complaining about your life and do something! Talk to people about how unhappy you are! Instead, she would wallow and make people guess how many Pumpkin Spice Lattes she was going to drink that season. Also, when we're introduced to her, I feel like the author did a lot of telling us about Stacey and it made it hard to connect with her organically because it was pretty boring and not really engaging.

As for the romance, this was a catfish scenario that took place for literally 50% of the book. Stacey is emailing/texting who she thinks is Dex, but we know it's really Daniel, his cousin. They were talking to each other for ten months (I think?) and I really didn't feel a connection between them. Maybe it's because there were only a handful of emails we saw between them, but I didn't really think they had that intense connection Stacey claimed they had. I also thought it was weird that they were talking for ten months and Stacey never asked to FaceTime or even call each other on the phone? But that's just me.

I also thought Stacey's reaction to finding out it was Daniel happened way too quickly and she never even made him grovel for what he did. Their connection just didn't feel authentic because of that and I really didn't care for how their romance was going to end. Also, while I loved Well Met, I was kind of tired of how much we saw the couple of the first book in this story. I would have DNFd this book if I had not gotten a copy to review. It just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Heather.
387 reviews16.8k followers
September 8, 2020
Another trip back to the Renaissance Faire! I adored the first book in this series, Well Met so I excited to read Well Played. Overall it was enjoyable, romantic and a fun read! I didn't love it quite as much as the first book but I adore these characters and any chance to visit the faire!
Profile Image for Danielle.
806 reviews400 followers
January 10, 2021
This was a fun romcom in a fun setting. 👍 Considering this is a sequel, it was pretty good. I loved the first book (Well Met), so I had high hopes for this one. I’m happy it was good. 😍
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,813 reviews476 followers
August 16, 2020

I enjoyed Well Met and immediately added Well Played to my TBR. After a few months, the wait was over and I was able to snatch an early copy of it. (Thank you Forever!!!).

For those who read Well Read, our heroine became good friends with Emily, the heroine of book 1. I liked her in Well Met. I thought she was straight forward and good support for Emily.

What I learned in this story is that Stacey never wanted to stay in a small town. She had dreams of leaving it and doing something else with her life. She stayed because her mother was sick. She was scared her mother will get sick again so it felt safer not to dream big.

The one thing Stacey looks forward to every year is when the Renaissance Faire comes to Willow Creek. She likes to wear her Faire costume, enjoys the men in kilts, the fake fights and the people, especially Dex Mac Lean, the singer of the Dueling Kilts.

After having a little too much to drink, she decides to comment on Dex's social media. Emily has decided she wants more than a yearly hookup. A Cyrano de Bergerac situation entails and another Mac Lean might end up stealing her heart.

I didn't love Well Played as much as I loved Well Met. I liked both main characters, Stacey and Daniel but I thought Daniel gave up too easily a couple of times instead of fighting for what he wanted.

One of my favorite parts of Well Played was to catch glimpses of Emily and Simon's love story and their wedding.

Will I read Well Matched when it comes out? ABSOLUTELY. I really can't wait for April and Mitch.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,703 followers
February 19, 2021
The more I looked at him, the more I remembered all the words we’d shared over the months. And the more I fell. I really, really hoped he would be there to catch me.

The setting of the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire is definitely a huge factor as to why I enjoy this series so much. I've never been to a Faire but wow, Jen DeLuca makes me wish I was part of one!

There were things that I feel Deluca really improves on from her first book. I loved both our main characters so much and I felt more connected to them. Stacey is relateble and Daniel is the sweetest cinnamon roll ever. Their chemistry was 🔥 .

Just like Well Met — this book was such a fun easy read that I devoured in less than a day. No joke. I could not stop reading!

The only thing that I didn't like (which made me knock off a star) was the whole catfishing thing. Ilove a book that features a written correspondence and this did give more insight to the male mc character and fleshed out his personality better, which I thought book 1 lacked. But, the fact that the main guy knEW she thought he was someone else made me really uncomfortable.

I'm sure it won't be a problem for other readers, it's just something I personally don't appreciate.

The ending was so heartwarming and I am dying for the next one. I'm totally shipping April and Mitch. I just know that couple is going to blow us away!

Read my review for book #1: Well Met

« Thank you to penguin random house international for providing me with an eARC for review »
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
303 reviews14.3k followers
June 21, 2021
Check out this review (and more) over on my blog!
Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for giving me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Stats:
3.75/5 Stars
Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Plot and Themes: 3/5
Awesomeness Factor: 2.5/5
Review in a Nutshell: If you’re looking for something quick and cute, Well Played might be the book for you.

// Content Warning: Mature Content, Catfishing //

Release Date: 9/22/2020
Publisher: Berkley
Page Count: 336

Well Played is the sequel to Well Met, following Stacey, who decides after a night of too much wine to message her no-strings attached summer fling who has left for the year. While he’s traveling, they grow closer through emails and texts. But, when he, and the annual Ren Faire, comes back the next summer, she realizes the man she was messaging (and falling for) is not who she thought.

- Setting -

This series really makes me want to go to a Ren Faire. I love how Jen DeLuca describes it. It adds such a fun and magical layer to this cute read. However, the faire itself definitely plays less of a role in this book than it does in the first. Around half the book takes place before the faire, in normal small-town life.

I think the lack of faire in this book might be one of the reasons I didn't love it quite as much as Well Met. The faire almost feels like a character in this series, and I really missed it.

- Plot -

This book takes place over the course of a year, following the relationship between Stacey and the guy she was messaging. Their relationship was adorable, but it is based on lies and catfishing, so if that’s something that bothers you in a romance, be warned.

If you can look past that (which I was able to fairly easily), the pacing of Well Played is fast and the story is easy to jump into. I was hooked from the start and never wanted to put it down!

- Characters -

I really enjoyed Stacey’s growth over the course of this book. Just like Well Met, there was a lot of depth in the main character, and their growth felt just as important (sometimes more) than the romance plot. But that doesn’t mean the romance plot wasn’t there, because it was, and it was adorable.

The love interest was really sweet, and while I do feel like Stacey moved past some of the bad things he did a little too quickly, I still loved him.

I also love the side characters in this series. Especially Mitch. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his and April’s book!

My one main complaint with the characters in this book is the lack of diversity. There weren’t any POC that I can remember, and any LGBTQ+ characters were only included for a second. Hopefully the third book, Well Matched, will be more diverse.

- Conclusion -

Pros- Quick read, interesting characters, makes me want to go to a ren faire
Cons- no diversity, we’re really gonna move past those lies that quick?
Overall- 3.75/5 stars.
Well Played is a lighthearted read with good depth. It isn't perfect, but I’m glad I read it, and I'm really looking forward to the third book!

Follow Me Here: Blog ||Tumblr || Bookstagram || Twitter|| Reviews
Profile Image for Christy.
3,813 reviews32.4k followers
September 1, 2020
4 stars

It all started with a necklace.

After reading (and loving) 'Well Met' last year, I was so excited to get to Well Played. I liked Stacey a lot and couldn't wait to get her story. Though I didn't love this one quite as much as the first, it was still a great read!

If you've read 'Well Met' you remember Emily's friend and fellow tavern wench, Stacey. Stacey is still in the same small town she grew up in, even though she had dreams to work in fashion in the big city. Due to some family things, life took her in a different direction and she's mostly content. Mostly. She lives for the Renaissance Festival her small town puts on every summer. It's her favorite time of year. And for the last two years, she's had a casual thing with of the guys that travels from faire to faire.

After the season is over she decides to message the guy. This turns into almost an entire year of texting and emailing. Stacey is smitten. And she's counting down the days until she sees her old hookup, now friend in person. Only things don't go exactly as expected when they meet again for the first time. And that's all I'll say about that ;)

The hero of this book was great. So sweet and soft and I adored him. I liked Stacey a lot too and I think her story and path in life could be relatable to a lot of women. By the end, I was shouting 'you go girl' to her! This book made me so nostalgic for my Ren Faire days (this year is canceled in Ohio d/t Covid...) and I love all the scenes that take place there. I absolutely love the setting of these books and I can't wait for the next one in the series (Mitch and April- gah! Give me!!)

If you're looking for a sweet, steamy, and fun read check this one out. It does have some pretty blatant going on, but for some reason it didn't bother me much. I enjoyed the heck out of this one and I'm looking forward to reading more from Jen DeLuca!
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,826 reviews2,185 followers
July 11, 2022
3 stars

Stacey has been living the same life for the past few years and the only time she feels alive is the weeks during the local ren faire. When another season ends, Stacey feels like it’s time to make a change and part of that includes messaging her ren faire “booty call” and seeing if there can be something more…

It’s funny because I was so excited to read this book when it came out and then covid messed with my reading mojo and I didn’t want to read anything. This book was a casualty of that. Now I’m trying to read the backlog of Netgalley arcs that have been waiting and this was the oldest. While I felt this book was easy to read, I didn’t care for the story. I’m all for a play on the Cyrano angle, but I felt like the two main characters just fell in love really quickly for me and I didn’t feel that connection between the two of them. And I don’t entirely love a passive romance hero, I kept feeling like he could fight harder or show more. And he didn’t. I’ll definitely read the other books in the series, this one just wasn’t as good as the first.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Profile Image for Annette.
Author 3 books189 followers
October 8, 2019
Be very jealous, for I got to read an early copy of WELL PLAYED, Jen DeLuca's follow up to the absolutely swoon-worthy WELL MET.

DeLuca is, hands down, one of my favourite authors and this book did not disappoint. The romance, the longing, the charm, the steam...all there. I absolutely loved this book and need a third book by her immediately!
Profile Image for Jessica.
325 reviews365 followers
October 24, 2020
Well Played by Jen Deluca is an excellent sequel to Well Met. This series is rom coms at the Renaissance Faire.

Well Played can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading them in order. If you are going to read both books reading them in order is a must.

I absolutely loved Well Played. I also loved Well Met so was impatiently waiting for Well Played to be released. This story is cute and funny while also having some emotional points. I was engaged from the first page.

I listened to the audiobook and Brittany Pressley did a great job narrating. Her narration added to an excellent story.

I highly recommend Well Played to fans of Jen Deluca, Renaissance Faire’s, and romantic comedies.

Full review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...
Profile Image for  Teodora .
303 reviews1,632 followers
April 23, 2023
4.25/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

Haven’t even started properly this book and I immediately thought that I was going to enjoy it possibly as much as the first one of the series, Well Met .
Aaand yep, I did!

This was a very cute read that actually lived up to my expectations! I haven’t loved it as much as I loved the first book, but it’s still one of the nicest romances I’ve read. And I’m glad for that.

I still liked the way those books are titled. Each of them was part of a whole that also had a very nice ring to it if you give it a thought.

If we previously had ‘well met’, this time we had ‘well played’ which in essence implies a game. And it was, indeed, kind of a game. A very fun to watch game, if I may say so.

This time, it was Emily’s best friend's turn (Stacey) to find her match and we also got to see how Emily and Simon’s relationship went after their previous happy ending in Well Met.
Side note: they were still adorable as hell.

The dynamics between Stacey and Daniel were really cute from the very first moment until the last.

Stacey used to be a cheerleader in high school, you know, circling around other groups of people and having other kinds of fun.
So the life she had now – living close to her parents, above their garage, working a job she wasn’t that fond of and having little action in her life – wasn’t really worthy of that old, cheerleader Stacey.
In my opinion, for an ex-cheerleader, she was kind of sad.

But Daniel managed to change that. Or at least he tried to, multiple times.
Because you know what? Daniel was a shy one. And the shy ones always have lots of love to offer, but not enough courage to actually do it. Growing up in the shadow of his more handsome and outgoing cousins, Daniel just developed a sensitivity and thoughtfulness that made him too adorable to resist. And not even Stacey could help it. She fell for him and she fell for good.

I really liked this second instalment of the trilogy, almost as much as the first one and I can only be completely enthusiastic for the third and last one!

So far, these books are amongst the cutest, warmest and fuzziest romances I’ve ever read about and I will forever crave more!

Also, may I say – thank GOD the last book is about Mitch because the bloke needs more appreciation!
A handsome guy with a funny personality, a dirty mind, easy-going smile and the ability to be an amazing friend? Uh, yes please and thank you!
AND ALSO April? Oh, bring the sass on, Mama!
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
September 30, 2020
im not gonna rate this one because I dnf'ed it at like 80%

well met was one of my favorite romance books last year so I was super excited to read this one but to be honest catfishing plots just aren't for me. i was hoping that the catfishing element wouldn't have been too much of a focus point in the story but it went on for so much longer then i wanted it to and I had a hard time feeling the romance because of that.

I do love the ren faire setting so much and I'm still so excited for the next book in this series but this one was a miss for me
Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
August 31, 2020
This is a romance set in the same town as Well Met surrounding a Ren Faire. The premise of this relationship unfortunately surrounds a catfishing incident, which is made pretty clear from the synopsis but lasts way longer than needed (about halfway into the book). What also is unfortunate is as the readers, it’s abundantly clear who our main character is obviously having an email relationship with but she remains oblivious. When they do get together, they are actually fairly cute but we don’t even get to see most of their cute couple dynamic! A lot of their time together is skimmed over, and we get more snippets of the last couple (Simon and Emily) than I even needed. I would have rated this a little lower, but I do love the writing and the setting and I did still root for the couple.

I’m very much looking forward to the last book in this series, which is April and Mitch’s book. It was hinted in book 1 and we had even more little hints here and I cannot wait!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
November 11, 2020
The crew from Well Met returns for another renaissance faire season and another fun love story in Jen DeLuca's new book.

Stacey has been part of the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire since high school, and it’s the time she looks forward to most each year. But as much as she enjoys playing the role of the bawdy serving wench, flirting with patrons, and hanging out with her friends, she’s tired of seeing all of her friends with fabulous lives while she feels she's stuck in place. She's starting to want more out of her life and wants to figure out what her future holds.

One lonely night after the season has ended, she sends a drunk message to Dex, the sexy traveling musician from the Faire she hooked up with periodically. She’s embarrassed when she realizes what she’s done, but she’s shocked when she receives a surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful message from the guy with a “wench at every faire.”

The more they communicate, the more she realizes how drawn to Dex she is. Their messages turn to texts and their online relationship intensifies as he travels from faire to faire. And when it comes time for the Willow Creek Faire to start again, Stacey is ready for the possibilities with Dex. But she gets quite a surprise when they’re reunited.

This was a fun and poignant book about a young woman sad that her life is passing her by, but she feels afraid to start anew. It’s also a story about the ways we fall into a rut and fear making changes, and how that can be a roadblock to happiness. I gave away less of the plot than the book's blurb did, but I felt it seemed somewhat obvious anyway.

I love Jen DeLuca’s characters in these books. You can read this one first but you should read her first book, Well Met , too. (I thought that one was a little more fun and focused more on the renaissance faire angle.) She has a third book coming out next year and I'm excited!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Madita.
521 reviews18.9k followers
August 7, 2022
2.5 stars

Honestly I was disappointed. Okay so I loved LOVED well met. I mean small town, a cute faire with old costumes and tavern music… What more could you want?? Nothing.

Sorry to say that in this book that wasn’t enough.
I was pretty excited but the blurb of the book basically ruined the entire plot and spoiled everything.
This is why I usually avoid the blurb but for some reason my head said “Read the blurb Madita!”
I must have drunken something poisonous that morning because WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?? It ruined the book.

Why you may ask?
Since the “plot twist” was revealed and announced in the blurb I right away obviously look for clues on who was “pretend- Dex”, well lucky me the only other option was revealed in chapter one.
So I was disappointed. I didn’t have my little “LE GASP” moment when I found out that Dex wasn’t writing the emails because (insert dramatic music):
It was revealed in the blurb.

As you can tell I have quite a lot of issues with this blurb because it ruined the book for me. The plot then for me was just boring because I knew everything already.

Sadly I did though.
The rest of the plot wasn’t much better. And let me just say: I hate it when the person that wasn’t in the wrong apologizes and does everything to fix the situation.
Maybe I am just petty and stubborn but I would never do that. You won’t see me apologizing for something I didn’t do. Nope.

Now I still have this book more than two stars because
DUN DUN DUUUUN: I cried. Twice.
Why? #thisbookhittooclosehomeandIrelatetooneofthecharactersabittoomuch.

When there is a character that has similar issues as me, oh I love it. I luuuv it. Don’t ask me why but crying about it makes me feel better so that’s why it has those 2.5 stars instead of zero. It also just was funny at entertaining in a weird way.
Let’s just say it had its moments.

Lastly I would just like to say: PLEASE STOP INCLUDING INSTAGRAM. I despise social media especially Instagram, Tiktok, Snapchat, Twitter in books. Facebook is fine but if it at least had a different name it would be better.

Let’s just call it: Clickthepic. Or something other than the names we have for social media platforms in this messed up reality.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk
Profile Image for Aoife - Bookish_Babbling.
297 reviews310 followers
September 28, 2020
I didn't enjoy this as much as Well Met, I guess the enemies-to-lovers spark was missing from this one. Well that and it took a good 50% of the book to get back to the Ren Faire - with much of the first half being emails & texts exchanges. Which can be hit or miss for me, if the banter is good I'm all for it but these were a bit more soul-searching then humerous and while they're what the characters needed it just doesn't quite float my boat.

Nothing against Stacey & D, they are adorkable in their own ways and I was rooting for them. Again tho I accidentally found myself edgy and disliking the early Cyrano type exchanges as we know things from the blurb that the MC doesn't and the kind trope portrayed here lowkey annoys me. I should have remembered this when picking it up - so deffo a me problem vs the books problem...your mileage may vary 🙃
I did like how it was handled when revealed, but I do wish they had hammered out a few other details namely how their paths had crossed & to me there was an unaddressed elephant in the room that they pretty much just skim right over - although I thought it needed more acknowledgment 🤷‍♀️
In fact I'd have liked to spend a bit more time with them as an actual couple but I get that the Ren Faire time frame is tight & I did surprise myself by liking the character realisations and who fought for whom 😅

The extra behind the curtain peek at Ren Faire circuit was interesting and obvs catching up with the cast & crew from Willow Creek was such a fun time. I am even more excited for April's story next as I feel such a kinship to her snarky bluntness 🤗

Profile Image for Antonella.
3,404 reviews449 followers
October 13, 2020
are you in the mood for some catfishing romance? that lasts for a year.. and the heroine gets over it just like that... all wrapped up as a rom-com book??!!

but then again that is her being consistent as a very wishy washy heroine with a very poor me attitude that drinks a lot of pumpkin-spiced lattes...

I really don't care for spinless heroes and desperate heroines in books I read for fun!!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
584 reviews4,722 followers
June 2, 2021
This book is the second installment in Jen DeLuca's wildly popular romance series, Well Met. In the first book we were introduced to Stacey - at the time, a side character who had been working at the Willow Creek, Maryland Renaissance Festival. In this second book, Stacey is the lead character and strikes up a texting romance with the hot lead singer of the Celtic punk band, The Dueling Kilts. Or...does she?

I reviewed the first book (Well Met) and this second book in the series over on Booktube!
Profile Image for Fernwehwelten.
320 reviews204 followers
August 23, 2021
4 Sterne | Pluspunkte: Flüssiger Schreibstil; malerisches Setting; liebenswürdige Charaktere | Minuspunkte: Sehr vorhersehbar; Erzähltempo

Himmel, was habe ich mich darauf gefreut, nach Willow Creek zurückzukehren! Romance-Bücher sind ja nicht unbedingt meine besten Freunde, aber an den ersten Band dieser Reihe mit seiner süßen Kleinstadt und all den liebevollen, authentischen Charakteren habe ich regelmäßig zurückgedacht. Meine Vorfreude auf „Erst auf den zweiten Blick“ war somit hoch.

Stacey hat das Gefühl, auf der Stelle zu treten. An der Männerfront ist Flaute und ihr Job langweilt sie. Nur dem Mittelalterfestival fiebert sie jedes Jahr aufs Neue entgegen – vor allem, weil damit auch ihre Sommeraffäre wieder in die Stadt kommt. Doch als Stacey Dex nach Abschluss des Festivals eine betrunkene Nachricht schreibt, entwickelt sich eine überraschend tiefgreifendes Gespräch – und plötzlich scheint aus der Affäre weit mehr werden zu können als ursprünglich angenommen. Oder nicht?

„Erst auf den zweiten Blick“ bringt ein ähnliches Wohlfühlfeeling wie sein Vorgänger mit sich. Die authentischen, vertrauten Gesichter sowie die bekannte Kulisse haben mich ohne Probleme zwischen den Seiten verschwinden lassen. Der Schreibstil ist wunderbar liebevoll und leichtgängig, weshalb ich das Buch an einem Stück verschlungen habe. Ich konnte nicht mehr aufhören – es fühlte sich ein wenig an wie nach Hause kommen. 🥰 Was mich etwas gestört hat, war der vorhersehbare Ablauf. Der Klappentext verrät bereits den Bruch der Geschichte und der dramaturgische Aufbau des Buchs gleicht dem seines Vorgängers beinahe bis aufs Haar. So fehlten mir ein paar Überraschungen, um meine Lesefreude permanent voll hochhalten zu können.

Trotzdem: „Erst auf den zweiten Blick“ ist eine Leseempfehlung für alle, die sich mit einem Tee in der Hand und einem Lächeln auf den Lippen einkuscheln wollen, denn dazu passt dieses Buch perfekt. 💛

PS: Man kann das Buch als Standalone lesen, allerdings würde ich das nicht empfehlen, da dann ein Teil des Zaubers verloren geht.
Profile Image for Blythe The Word Junkie.
239 reviews95 followers
September 26, 2020
4 out of 5 stars!

Huzzah! Modern dating meets Medieval times.

Something as glorious and powerful as love shouldn't be caged.

What another great read from Jen DeLuca! Reading this felt like a serving of a soothingly warm and aromatic coffee with the rain pouring outside your cozy bedroom. Undisturbed. Relaxed. Mildly swooning. I loved Well Met, and I love this one too! DeLuca gives us a healthy dose of her signature Renaissance Faire ambiance, complete with Vest/Kilt-wearing heroes and corseted heroines. With a side serving of an adorable kitten, Benedick. 4 stars!

This story packs a great combination of past and present. Modern dating meets Medieval times. I adored the sweet e-mail & the text exchanges of our characters here, complete with memes and selfies and Instagram posts. Very on the "Now."

Plot :

Stacey Lindolm. An avid faire lover. Plus-sized greatness. Since high school, she has been part of the Renaissance Faire at Willow Creek. When her best friend and long-time friend decided to get married, Stacey has been struck with this mental ticking-time bomb-like feeling: "When will her life decide to further progress?" She lived adjacent to her parents. Has a boring reception job at a dental clinic on weekdays. Nothing interesting happening at the moment. A summer fling hookup with a gorgeous lead vocal of The Dueling Kilts. She has no steady commitments, except for her true love, Benedick, her cat.

One drunken night, her liquor-drugged self decided to take a leap with her summertime fling, Dex. When she awoke, all scenes from the night before flashed before her. The e-mail was sent. And marked: Read! (*insert embarrassed cringe*) But, surprised as she was, Dex responds accordingly to her message. Soon enough, their string of e-mails have become a regular before-sleep routine and have progressed to daily text exchanges, complete with memes and selfies. Dex is not what Stacey ought him to be, he's so much better. But, the hero lives on the road, while the heroine is adamant on leaving Willow Creek to keep an eye on her sick mother.

This story is a perfect light read. Sweet and smooth for the heart. 🧚‍♀️🐈📨🤳🍻🧢🗒️
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,851 followers
April 10, 2021
I have to be honest, I'm a little disappointed about this one. It's not remotely a bad book but I expected more of the delight of book one's banter and chemistry to show up here and, due to circumstances of the meet/genesis of the relationship, we don't quite get it.

Stacey was really relateable character in a lot of ways; stuck in a small town, post-college plans derailed, days spent looking at the lives of others through social media or her phone and feeling like she's missed opportunities for more. And equally, I felt a lot of things about love interest, who was quite soft and sweet; even though in critical moments he just completely left Stacey hanging out to dry. Neither were perfect, of course — I found Stacey randomly being annoyed by people sometimes jarring because it seemed to come out of nowhere — but I think this is going to be a situation where we all might be wishing for a bit more groveling on the side of the guy. I know I did.

"What the hell is wrong with you two? You're both nerds, you know that? In this century we don't go straight for a Cyrano reference. We all it catfishing."

Overall though I think that's maybe what's missing and letting this one fall a little short. It's just missing that edge, that extra bit of something something. I also wonder if maybe Emily and Simon, book one's couple, were just a little too centre stage in some of the plot. I suppose to fits with the theme of Stacey feeling like she's just stuck in place, watching life happen around her, but.. maybe without them being so present it would've just been a sadder book?

Also, if you wanted higher heat levels in the wake of book one? Well, you'll get them.

It was nice being reunited with everyone, we get to see all the familiar faces, and I'm excited at some of the breadcrumbs laid in preparation for book three, but while there were some sweet moments.. it won't be anywhere near as memorable as WELL MET.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews876 followers
September 24, 2020

AUTHOR: Jen DeLuca
SERIES: Well Met #2
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2020
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
THEMES & TROPES: Small Town Romance


Back to the Ren Faire we go!

This book was one of my highly anticipated in 2020 and it delivered. Jen DeLuca is amazing at setting the atmosphere of the Willow Creek Faire - it feels like you are one of the patrons, strolling through the medieval streets, talking to wenches and pirates. In this place we reconnect with Stacey who was born and grew up in Willow Creek. As she watched her friends from her childhood and teenage years move on with their lives, study, score dream jobs, marry and have kids she is stuck in her hometown. She feels like she missed out on something.

I think most of us can relate because things that happen to other people which you wanted for yourself always look awesome when you're on the outside looking in. I really loved how relatable Stacey felt. She was forgiving, understanding and very likable.
But I’d learned so much about him over the last few months that I realized it was his words I was attracted to now, and who he was inside. His Hemsworthiness didn’t matter to me anymore.

The guy she falls for is one of the sweetest heroes I've read about. I totally get why she liked him so much. He adored Stacey and if I have one regret about him it's that I wish he had fought a little harder for her. What I liked, though, was that their emails and text correspondence was what made Stacey fall in love with her love interest, as opposed to his looks. These two knew each other and that made the relationship feel real.
The more I looked at him, the more I remembered all the words we’d shared over the months. And the more I fell. I really, really hoped he would be there to catch me.

I have to admit that the first 40% seem a little longer than they are because most of their interaction is via email and you just want the people you read about occupy the same room. But the book really got going after that.
Of course we get to catch up with Emily and Simon who are taking their relationship to the next level. And then there are Mitch and April. I'm salivating to read their story.
Well Played is a worthy successor of the first book in this series and I enjoyed myself thoroughly spending time at the Ren Faire and with these characters. It was a cute, fun read with some serious steam. While this technically could be read as a standalone I would recommend reading Well Met first.
No perfectly-broken-in pair of jeans had felt as comfortable, as right, as his mouth felt on mine.

Profile Image for Lauren.
111 reviews54 followers
October 10, 2020
4 stars!

“Oh, and too bad Anastasia. You can’t give me a name that feels like music in my mouth and not expect me to revel in it.”

I love this series with all my heart. Adorable covers and adorable characters it has it all. Also this review uses the word 'adorable' a considerable amount because if I were to sum the book up in one word it would be that.

Stacey feels trapped in her own life, trapped in her job and trapped in her small town. Though she loves spending her summers at the local Renaissance Faire she wants more and after one drunken email to a former hook-up she’s finding herself finding something more. Only after months of exchanging emails back and forth once they come face-to-face Stacey realises who she’s been falling isn’t who she thought he was.

I have been looking forward to this book ever since I finished the last page of ‘Well Met’ in September last year and I was not disappointed. Due to when they come out it's always when it's starting to warm up in Australia so they are the perfect read for a nice sunny day.

I loved the characters.

I loved Stacey. Seeing a new depth to her and her growth throughout as she comes to realise what she wants out of life. And oh my god I adored Daniel. When Stacey showed up to his hotel room and he had planned for them to eat Chinese takeaway and watch home renovation shows because she said in an email how much she loved them I was ready to cry he is the sweetest. AND HE BOUGHT A BUNCH OF FOOD BECAUSE HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SHE LIKED. I love one man-

The little snippets of Emily and Simon throughout were adorable those two are so precious. Might have gotten a little emotional at them getting married.

I loved watching the romance unfold between Stacey and Daniel, it was so gentle and pure and just so genuinely adorable.

These books have such an amazing atmosphere, I have never been to a Renaissance Faire but now I seriously want to. With swoon worthy romance, lively setting and characters which leap of the page what else could you want?

Only thing I didn’t love was I felt like we didn’t really get to see much Stacey and Daniel together. I get that it was going to take awhile considering they spoke via email for months but once the book was over I felt like we didn’t really get to see a whole bunch of them together.

But overall I had such a good time reading this and I can’t wait until the next one. Because Mitch??? Amazing sign me up.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,512 followers
August 18, 2020

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.

blog | fb | twitter | ig
Profile Image for Lily Herman.
543 reviews572 followers
May 31, 2020
Ugh, y'all, I'm sorry. SO SORRY.

I wanted to be able to tell you that I absolutely adored this novel and that I thought it was the perfect sequel to Well Met (which I loved!).

Unfortunately, Jen DeLuca's Well Played fell a bit short for me. Don't get me wrong: I still really enjoyed this book; it's a 3.5-star novel for me. I loved that DeLuca incorporated Emily and Simon from the first book (though some might find them a little too prominent), and the fact that this story takes place over the course of a year is Very Much My Shit™. (I love Josie Silver's books, so this should come as no surprise.) I also really related to the #growth journey that Stacey was on; both of DeLuca's books so far have been about more than just a woman finding a dude.

For me, Well Played just lacked that little extra umph factor. I've found that a catfishing trope is always going to be risky, because it blurs that line between irredeemable actions by a love interest and a bad but potentially understandable thing to do; in this case, I was just never totally sold on the romantic arc, though there were some adorable moments.

Again though, I still liked this book, enjoy Jen DeLuca's writing style, and will absolutely read Well Matched when it comes out; in fact, I'm already counting down the days.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,662 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.