Desert Isle Keeper
Well Matched is my favorite among Jen DeLuca’s three volume series about renaissance fair attending nerds falling in love in Willow Creek. A single mom, a kilted dude, and some intense passion brings to life an enchanting romance that stands as one of DeLuca’s best thus far.
April Parker is a single mother who’s looking to renovate her house and sell it now that her daughter Caitlin is heading off to college. Having not thought of herself in a long time, putting herself first is a new experience for April an and she’s ready to branch out and breathe. But she hasn’t been in a serious relationship for twelve years due to her introversion and social anxiety – and with her ex coming back into the picture to reconnect with Caitlin, that anxiety just keeps on ramping up. And Caitlin’s not happy about April selling the house.
Gym teacher Mitch Malone is a sunshiny, confident himbo who has been April’s best friend for ages. April and Mitch have been flirting with one another for decades, but nothing has come of it. But now that April needs help with her house, Mitch happily agrees to do the renovation work – if she’ll agree to pose as his fiancée during his grandparent’s anniversary weekend. His family keeps pressuring him to settle down and get a white collar job, and having April along will at least stop them nagging him about the first thing. April feels a new connection with Mitch as they pretend to date, so when the Malones show up during the Renaissance Faire, where she’s volunteering and Mitch is once again working, she poses as his fiancée again. Will they find real love?
It is my solemn duty to inform you I’d die for Mitch Malone. Well Matched is made delightful by his existence, and poor sweet April, with her bubbling social anxiety, is a delightful counterpart to his confidence. They make a really delightful couple and it’s so much fun to watch them get blindsided by true love.
Everyone grows a little. Many folks will see themselves in workaday April, who finally develops a little boldness in her approach to life. And Mitch – God, I loved Mitch. He’s so much fun and so good for and to April. Also, hooray for older heroines – April is nine years Mitch’s senior.
As always, De Luca’s family characters shine through. Caitlin is wholly believable as an adolescent standing on the cusp of adulthood, and it’s fun visiting Mitch’s family. We also get to catch up with all the couples who were so merrily matched in previous volumes of the series(April is a best friend to the heroine in book #1 and Mitch is basically friends with everyone and was the mistaken-boyfriend of the heroine in book #2 – and I liked Mitch much better here than I did there). Those who wanted more Ren Faire action will be heartily disappointed, but that’s the only flaw I can really think of.
Well Matched is an excellent novel, and a wonderful romance. Fan of the series will likely love to see it conclude with Mich’s well-earned HEA.