I recently read Well Met by Jen DeLuca, but I had requested the advanced reader’s copy of Well Played before I had read Well Met. I saw the book everywhere on Bookstagram and it received raving reviews. I was absolutely hooked and I quickly read Well Played soon after.
Well Played introduces us to the perspective of Emily’s best friend, Stacey. Stacey always has a smile on her face and is known for her sunny disposition. But Stacey deep down isn’t happy. Everyone’s life around her is progressing, while her life is stuck. Stuck in Willow Creek. After college, she was on track to start her career in fashion in NYC when her mom had a heart, which brought Stacey back to Willow Creek and where she has been ever since. Her one outlet that she looks forward to every year is the local Ren Faire and she hopes Dex, the hunky musician in The Dueling Kilts band notices her again like the summer prior. But as one drunken text leads to a year-long of messages between the two, Stacey discovers it’s Dex’s cousin, Daniel, not Dex himself, who has been messaging the whole time.
I enjoyed this book because I enjoy DeLuca’s writing style. She includes just enough steam but doesn’t go overboard where it ends up being the focus of the story. It was nice to see things from Stacey’s perspective and know the depth of her, even though it wasn’t portrayed much in the first book. Stacey also brings to life the negative side to social media that should be addressed a lot more than it does. People predominantly post about the positive things, things to brag about, the filtered and polished photo, etc., but she realized that she didn’t have much to contribute to social media outside of photos of her cat and that made her pause. Also, she sacrificed her dream career for her family, which further demonstrated her character.
Now regarding the story’s love interest (LI), Daniel. This is where it got a bit disappointing for me. There were two incidences where Daniel was given a chance to fight for Stacey in the story, but instead, he bailed or quickly gave up. I didn’t like that. I’m not expecting the LI to be perfect at all, in fact, I love it when they are flawed but persevere through their faults to fight for the one they love. Also, maybe it was also because I didn’t really connect with Daniel since I didn’t get to know him enough before Stacey and he connected in person. He just didn’t seem a strong enough character to wow me. With that being said, Daniel wasn’t bad enough for me not to like the story in general.
Overall, Well Played was an entertaining read and further solidifies me as a Jen DeLuca fan. Although it didn’t make me swoon as Well Met, it was good to see things through Stacey’s eyes and heart. Well Played comes out tomorrow September 22nd!
Book Description (from NetGalley)
A 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 on stage 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.