Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
Series: Well Met, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Well Matched cover
ISBN: 9780593200445
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.

Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.

Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire—a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she'll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what's real and what's been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.

As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch's family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch's girlfriend again...and it doesn't feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans—and open her heart—for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.

Jen DeLuca takes the fake relationship trope and makes it feel fresh and fun in Well Matched. I’ve been waiting for Mitch and April’s story since I saw their instant chemistry in previous Well Met books and DeLuca did not disappoint.

I liked April well enough in Well Met and Well Played, but she grabbed my interested the second we got her point of view. I loved that she’s an introvert, hates being gossiped about, and is a bit in her shell at the start of this book. At forty, the hardworking single mother and soon-to-be empty-nester is ready to leave the small town she raised her daughter in and start living her life for herself. She’s never regretted putting her daughter first but she’s had a set plan for herself for some time. In order to sell her house, she needs to do some minor renovations, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to get some help when Mitch asks her to pose as his girlfriend in front of his family. Mitch is her opposite in many ways. The outgoing, friendly gym teacher and coach who never seems to take life too seriously and is a total player who looks red-hot in a kilt would never be the guy for her, even if he weren’t nine years younger. Except somewhere along the line between pretending to be in a relationship and actually spending time together, April and Mitch are drawn to each other. Attraction, friendship, and seeing beneath the surface make it impossible for them not to fall for each other. Except their friends-with-benefits relationship can never become something lasting…can it?

If April is the slightly grumpy one, Mitch is the sunshine one in this pairing and oh man, did I love him. Mitch is sexy as sin and can work a kilt like no one else, but that’s not what makes him special. He’s got a kind heart and cares deeply, which made me smile and sigh. Then there are the hidden vulnerabilities that come from his family thinking less of him because of what he does. April sees Mitch for all that he is and as she does so she starts to come out of her shell. I loved her relationship with her daughter, Caitlin, but it was even better to see April slowly put herself out there. She didn’t have to change who she was but her life grew as she did. I hated to put Well Matched down because I was so into April and Mitch’s romance and April’s personal journey. Whether you’re new to DeLuca’s books or are already a fan of Willow Creek and its delightful Ren Faire, this is a romance that will make you smile. I finished Well Matched a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to see what DeLuca comes up with next.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.