ARC was provided by NetGalley and Berkley in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (September 22nd, 2020)
🌹 Well Met ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of loss of a loved one (in the past, to cancer), talk of fertility hardships, talk of heart attacks (in the past), a lot of talk and thoughts of body image, depictions of anxiety, and catfishing
“It all started with a necklace.”
I’m back again with more of the wench life! But seriously, I absolutely adore Renaissance Festivals and actually, I usually attend the Maryland Renaissance Festival almost every year. Every time fall rolls around, I would automatically be plotting, planning when my trip of the year would happen. And of course I would dress up in costume. You can’t go to the Maryland Renaissance Festival without getting into a costume (usually in Elven attire). However, with the pandemic happening, this might be the first year I don’t attend Renn. Fest. and my heart is truly saddened by that thought. So being able to read the next book in this series has brought some comfort and happiness into that hole that’s formed in my chest.
Our story follows Stacy, the other tavern wench from the first book. If you remember in the first book, faire was starting to hit that point of the last round before it closes for the year. And this is where we pick up in book two. As faire is beginning to end, Stacy finds that she’s eager for some change and we quickly discover her friends with benefits relationship with Dex, one of the brothers from the Dueling Kilts, who preform at the Willow Creek Renaissance Festival every year.
But that’s the trouble with faire coming to a close, everyone gets back to their normal routine and that means the Dueling Kilts move onto the next big gig, usually the Maryland Renaissance Festival. So when Stacy is thrust back into her usual routine; working in a dentist office as a receptionist, living the cozy life in her studio apartment, and coming home to the only guy who seems to love her unconditionally (a.k.a. Benedick the cat), Stacy begins to reevaluate her life. After college, Stacy had left her small town life behind and moved to New York where she was going to pursue her passion for fashion, but when her mother started having health complications, Stacy dropped everything immediately to be where she was needed most, with her family.
“And together, that flickering light and that sense of yearning made me want something new. A life on the road. A life somewhere other than here.”
With all of her friends, who have left Willow Creek behind, starting their lives (thanks to social media) and the realization she’s entering her later twenties still single, Stacy begins to feel the weight and pressure of society’s expectations. So one night when she’s missing her summer fling something fierce (and maybe the wine had a little extra help in this), Stacy gets the courage to write up a message to Dex, on the Dueling Kilt’s band page. After waking up with a killer hangover and a lot of mortification, Stacy soon realizes she’s received a response.
One message turns into two, two turns into a week’s worth of messages, and soon we see Stacy live her life through a year while texting the guy she’s falling for. We see Stacy help Emily with planning her wedding, join a book club, and of course, keep cracking jokes with Mitch. We also see Stacy help a lot more with the prepping of the Willow Creek Renaissance Festival, but despite all these wonderful things happening, with the anticipation at an all time high, Stacy begins to question a lot of things.
You’ll just have to pick up this book come this September if you want to know what happens with Stacy because going any further would just spoil the book. If you’re looking for a cute romance with that amazing small town setting (of course, the Renaissance Festival setting too) and the deep roots of community then I can’t recommend it enough! Of course, the romance is super cute too. I really enjoyed the romance and there’s some really good banter in this book. Stacy is also plus sized and she talks about her body, her body image, and her journey with her confidence. I really appreciated that especially myself being plus sized, I have a deep appreciation when plus size representation is done well.
“His words squeezed my heart, and I couldn’t take a good deep breath.”
I also have to talk about the family aspect of this book. There’s definitely a of subplot in this book that focuses on family, family expectations, and how hard it can be to leave your family especially when you feel like they need you to be close. But we also see the other side of that where your family wants you to live your life and chase down your dreams. There was a moment between Stacy and her mother, and I just felt the biggest surge love for the relationship these two characters have. I ended up really missing my own family after that and I ended up sending off a bunch of emails to them. There’s so many moments about family in this book that hit close to home and I really loved that about this book.
I think held back from the full five star this time for plethora of reasons. There were a lot of times reading this book where it felt like Stacy had to do a lot of the work. Relationships are hard, but it’s not a two way street and both people have to make an effort to make it work. I just didn’t see that happening on the love interest side of things. In all honesty, it felt like there was an over-use of the excuse “but I’m not like so-and-so” to not do the work that builds the foundation of the relationship. On the topic of relationship foundation, I definitely felt like there was a huge lack of communication and honesty between Stacy and the love interest. There were times where big, important things felt like they were forgiven too quickly or swept under the rug to escalate their relationship quicker. I think for myself, I would have liked to have seen a more in depth conversation happen between the two, but that might be the married person in me talking (so take this with a grain of salt). And as much as I enjoyed Stacy, there were a lot of times where she felt dated. There were times where I forgot that she was twenty-seven and I just wanted to see her do something that wasn’t predictable.
“You’ll never be alone. Not if I have anything to say about it.”
Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book! This was exactly what I needed to feel a bit better with cancelling my Renaissance Festival plans for this year. Also, I didn’t mention this anywhere else in this review, but I freaking adore Stacy’s cat, Benedick. That cat was fantastic, Stacy dresses him up with dragon wings, and I just love that ball of floof so darn much! Anyway, I’m super excited because after I finished reading this, I went to check to see if there was another book in this series. Now, I was saying this for the last handful of chapters of this book and I swear, the screech that left my body was loud enough to make the whole neighborhood wake up. Well Matched, the third book in this series, is April and Mitch’s book and my heart, my soul, and my mind have all abandoned me and are waiting for 2021 to hurry up! I’m so excited and I truly cannot wait for this book!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.