Book Review: Well Met

well metWell Met
by Jen DeLuca
Contemporary Romance
319 pages
Publishing September 3, 2019

I received Well Met through Book of the Month, so I was able to read it before the general release date. I actually read it on the second day of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, while my husband was out working at a friend’s booth. That turned out to be a bad idea, as the book perfectly captures the feeling of Fair and made me miss my husband and friends at Fair even more! I’m looking forward to Monday, when we’ll both be working the booth on Labor Day!

BUT THIS BOOK.

Well Met is an adorable, hilarious enemies-to-lovers romance. Emily has dropped her entire life (which wasn’t much, after her boyfriend dumped her and kicked her out of the apartment) to move to Willow Creek and help her sister, who was recently in a severe car accident. When she takes her niece to sign up as a volunteer for the local Ren Faire, she discovers minors can only volunteer if they have an adult volunteering with them. Given that her sister is in no shape to leave the house, let alone be at a Ren Faire, she volunteers so her niece can participate. Which brings us to Simon.

Simon is the head of the Faire. It was started by his brother, but the responsibility has fallen to him, and he takes it…a little too seriously. Through a series of misunderstandings (because that’s always the case in romances!) the two butt heads, argue, and generally think each other unpleasant, but everything changes when the costumes go on and Faire begins.

I adored Emily. I thought Simon was a little obtuse, and both of them a little too stubborn, and everything moved a little too fast, but when everything needs to be crammed into 300 pages, that’s going to happen. The book perfectly captures the spirit of Faire; from the jubilation, fun, and adrenaline at the start of a Faire day to the utter exhaustion at the end of the day and the relief of washing the Faire dirt off.

I was greatly amused to see MY home Fair mentioned, while discussing the size of the Willow Creek Fair:

“It’s a fund-raiser, sure, but it’s grown over the years into a pretty big event. We have talent coming from all over the country to perform. It’s not one of the big Faires by any means – we certainly have nothing on the Maryland Renaissance Festival.”

Aside from the romance feeling a little rushed (which may just be my demisexuality coming through) this book was an absolute delight, from start to finish. If you enjoy Ren Faires and Shakespeare, you should pick this up when it comes out. It’s great. (And if you’re local, come out to the Maryland Renaissance Festival!)

From the cover of Well Met:

A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy debut where a little flirtation between sworn enemies proves that all is faire in love and war.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, to help her sister, but who could have anticipated getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance faire? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The Faire is Simon’s family legacy, and he makes it clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the Faire grounds he  becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only supposed to be a pit stop for Emily, but now she can’t shake the fantasy of calling Willow Creek – and Simon – home.

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Oh hey it’s Sunday

And I still don’t know what I’m doing with this space. Saturday was long and humid working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and I am absolutely pooped. I know about the SCOTUS vote, but right now (Saturday night, as I’m writing this), I do not have the spoons to even start to address it. There may or may not be an evening post tonight talking about it. We’ll see how I feel once I have slept.

Oh lord having a chronic illness SUCKS BALLS. I am so glad we’re never working both days of a Fair weekend this year. I don’t think I’m capable because one day makes EVERY. THING. HURT. And it’s not like I’m running all over the grounds. I am alternately standing, sitting, and occasionally walking around a, what, 10 foot square booth? Might be 12. I’m not really sure. It’s not large, anyway.

So yeah. I’m gonna go collapse in my bed and sleep until sometime Sunday. Probably far past when this post goes up. Then we’re going to lounge around the house until we find enough spoons to go see Venom, and then maybe I’ll write some long ranty opinion piece about the piece of shit that just got onto the Supreme Court.

I’ll leave you with some Wonder Women. 20181006_2207247668070089285426173.jpg

Book Review: All’s Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle SchoolAll’s Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson
Graphic Novel
248 pages
Published 2017

For those who didn’t know, I work at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, helping a friend of mine sell leather masks (and other leather goods). Throughout the year, I actually get to help her make them, including stitching the codpieces we sell at the Fair. So when I learned about this graphic novel set at a Renaissance Festival, I knew I had to grab it. I worked Labor Day Monday at Fair, so I popped over to the Fair’s bookshop, Page After Page, and picked up the book. (They even remembered I’d asked about the book over the summer to make sure they were going to carry it!)

Once I recovered from the heat and humidity at Fair on Monday, I cracked this book open and fell into it. It’s set at the Florida Ren Faire, and it captures the spirit of Rennies and the festival very, very well. One of my favorite parts was when Imogene announced she was going to middle school, and all the adults around her reply with variations of “MIDDLE SCHOOL SUCKED.” Imogene asks “Aren’t adults supposed to encourage kids to go to school?” and her dad replies “You got the wrong kind of adults, kid.” Oh, Rennies. There are D&D games, and thrift stores, and going to the store in garb, and speaking in accents while doing normal mundane things – yeah. This is a book about Rennies, alright.

I was a little disappointed in the adults not understanding the kind of pressure Imogene was under as the new girl at school. They all commiserated with middle school sucking, but didn’t give Imogene any slack for it, and in a couple of cases dismissed how important things were to her.

I loved seeing her go from school to Fair, and seeing the different environments contrasted. The art style is great. Each chapter begins with a page illustrated like a medieval manuscript, and a paragraph written like an epic story. “After months of preparations, including but not limited to careful outfit selection and triple-checking of school supplies, young Imogene is ready to embark on her journey into the Great Unknown. Like all explorers before her, our heroine has only one thought on her mind….”

I really loved this book. It would make a great gift for any kid headed to middle school who loves Ren Faires. (Or Rennie parents!)

From the cover of All’s Faire in Middle School:

Growing up with parents who work at the Renaissance Faire, Imogene has always been sure of who she is: a brave and noble knight. But now, after being homeschooled her whole life, she is about to embark on the epic adventure of . . . middle school!

Imogene will quickly discover that in real life there aren’t always clear-cut heroes and villains like there were at the Faire. How will she find her place (and new friends) in this strange and complicated land?

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

hangman's daughter

The Hangman’s Daughter
by Oliver Pötzsch
435 pages
Published 2010
Historical Fiction

I spent my entire day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday. (And man, do my feet hurt!) But it was an absolute blast; we watched the three sirens of “Sirena” sing some haunting melodies (and “steal” my husband’s soul and eat it as part of their act!), watched a couple of hilarious comedy shows (Fight School slayed me) and watched the final round of jousting. Did you know jousting is Maryland’s official sport? How cool is that?

On the way to the fair I finished The Hangman’s Daughter. The Hangman’s Daughter was originally written in German by Oliver Pötzsch, but my version was translated to English by Lee Chadeayne. I didn’t realize until I read the “About the Author” followed by “About the Translator” that it wasn’t written originally in English! It flowed exceptionally well. The story revolves around the mysterious deaths of three children, the midwife the town wants to pin it on, and a mystery surrounding the sabotage of the leper house being built just outside the walls of the town. The Hangman is actually one of the most sympathetic characters in the story, which I found unique. Usually the executioner/torturer is painted as evil. Along with his daughter and the town doctor’s son, an accomplished doctor himself, they attempt to solve the mystery of who’s killing children before the town can convict and sentence the midwife.

There are three more books in this series, The Dark MonkThe Beggar King, and The Poisoned Pilgrim. Definitely going to look for those!

(Edit: I have since read the aforementioned sequels, and reviewed them here. They were excellent!)

I REALLY enjoyed this book, and I will probably try to track down other English translations of this author’s work. I don’t read too many mysteries (though I do have a few more in the queue at the moment) but this book really swept me up and carried me along for the ride. It’s set in 17th century Bavaria, 70 years after the last witch craze. Jakob Kuisl is the town’s Hangman, and, as it turns out, one of the author’s ancestors! The author apparently wrote the novel as a way of connecting with his roots; he is descended from the Kuisls, who were Hangmen for generations.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the mystery, so I’ll go straight to the back of the book.

From the back of The Hangman’s Daughter:

Simon turned the boy on his belly. With a vigorous tug he ripped open the shirt on the back as well. A groan went through the crowd.

Beneath one shoulder blade there was a palm-size sign of a kind that Simon had never seen before – a washed-out purple circle with a cross protruding from the bottom.

For a moment, there was total silence on the pier. Then the first screams rose. “Witchcraft! There’s witchcraft involved!” Somebody bawled: “The witches have come back to Schongau! They’re getting our kids!”