Overall, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was equal parts fun and heartwarming.
The thing that stood out most to me, rather than the romance, was the familial bonds that were found throughout the story. I loved how important Emily’s family was to her and how she really prioritized helping her sister and niece out and while in most other stories I feel like the protagonist would find some way to complain about this, or essentially desert the family when she finds her passion, I love that Emily was always there for them. And when the time came where her sister was better there wasn’t that awkward conversation where Emily had to leave and find something to do with her life. I felt like Emily and April, who never had a great sister relationship growing up, were able to really build a bond now and learn to support each other and ultimately be there for one another. And on the other hand, I liked the flip side of this kind of familial relationship with Simon’s, who really disregarded his feelings and ambitions, and made various assumptions about him which therefore made Simon feel like he had to take on various things to keep a memory alive, which wasn’t fair to him. I liked how there was a bit of a light shone on that kind of family and those kind of feelings, which are completely valid, and it was really a bright spot of this story.
I personally really resonated with Emily’s character a lot, particularly on the part of her that are worried about not being enough and not sure where her life should be, and it’s another reason why I enjoyed this book. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strong of a connection to a character in quite a while the way I connected with Emily and I know that a lot of other people might not connect in the same way, but it really felt like her fears were my own fears a lot of the time and those feelings hit me right in the gut. But the thing I really liked about Emily is how DeLuca didn’t make one personality trait define her entire character the way I’ve seen others do. Like Emily had some quirks about her but she wasn’t defined by those quirks and her personality didn’t revolve around the fact that she was too loud or blurted out random things. There were a lot of layers to Emily and it was nice to see a female character feeling like a legitimate human being in a contemporary romance.
I do have two complaints: the first is that I didn’t feel like we saw the relationship between Emily and Simon develop enough to garner legitimate feelings. The pacing of the story itself was fine but I feel like we didn’t get enough scenes with the two to watch the attracting build and grow and flourish the way we expect to. Sure, there were nice scenes at the Faire itself when both would flirt in character but I feel like there should’ve been a bit more “throughout the week” scenes for them and maybe then I’d feel a lot better about the way they developed. Don’t get me wrong, I thought they were very cute together, and the chemistry and tension was there, I just feel like it would’ve been a lot better if there was more scenes to play with. My second complaint is that I really wish Simon had a POV because it might’ve helped the relationship’s development, but it would’ve really benefitted to see how his character handled and processed his brother’s death and how to move on from that, as well as how Emily claimed he was holding the Faire above her. I want to see his thought and grief process, and while it was done well enough just in Emily’s POV, I feel like both Simon and us as the reader deserved more.
I am not mad at all that I read this book and while I’m not a Faire connoisseur like some of the people in this book, I found it to be a really fun backdrop for a contemporary romance. I loved the relationships of all kinds that flourished in this book and loved the messages and themes that were peppered throughout.
I did, however, play myself into thinking the next book was out already and now I’m going to have to wait a while to see what other shenanigans these people will get themselves into.
This book wasn’t absolutely perfect, but it’s definitely one of the better contemporary romances out in the world.
All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? 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 from the start he makes 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 ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.