Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca


Release date: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance


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.


Last year the first book in this series, Well Met was one of my favorite reads of the year, so to say that I was anxious to get my hands on this book is a huge understatement. I had very high hopes for this one and maybe that’s why I’m sitting here disappointed, but this one wasn’t nearly as good as the first and I’m super bummed about it.

I want to be clear that this wasn’t bad by any means, it just wasn’t as magical and charming as the first book and I can’t help but compare the two. The author is a great writer and I loved being back at the Faire with the characters from the first book but it was missing that something special from the first book for me. I think a big part of my problem was that I feel like the blurb and cover are a spoiler. It seems like the author wanted this air of mystery about who Stacey was chatting with online but the cover/blurb makes it painfully obvious so I spent the first half of the book already knowing what would happen which made me annoyed and impatient to get it over with. The romance was cute, the plot was fine but I just wanted so much more after loving WM so very much. I’ll be reading the next book in the series in the hopes that it’ll be more like book one, but if you’re like me and have been waiting for this one maybe just lower your expectations a bit and maybe you’ll like it more than I did?

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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