Audiobook Review: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Matched
Series: Well Met, #3
Author: Jen DeLuca
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: October 19, 2021
Print length: 336 pages
Audio length: 9 hours, 30 minutes
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley; audiobook purchased via Audible
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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… something that 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.

An accidentally in-love rom-com filled with Renaissance Faire flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights. 

Welcome back to Willow Creek, home of the best small-town Renaissance Town in the state of Maryland (and beyond?)!

Willow Creek is also the home of April Parker, a 40-year-old single mother who’s about to become an empty-nester once her teen-aged daughter Caitlin graduates high school and leaves for college. April is strong and self-sufficient, but she’s spent the past 18 years focused on raising her daughter and never really looking beyond her own walls. She’s well respected and liked, but has few close friends, never got involved at Caitlin’s school, and never found time and energy outside of work and child-raising to make Willow Creek feel like a true home.

We first met April in book one of this terrific series (Well Met), when her younger sister Emily came to town to help April after a devastating car accident. In that book, Emily was the main character, and April was in a supporting role. Here, April takes center stage, and it’s great fun to get to know her.

April is determined to sell her house and get the hell out of Willow Creek once her daughter is off to college. She doesn’t have a firm plan in mind, just starting over somewhere closer to where she works. Things start to change when April is out at the (only) local dive bar one night and is being hit on by a jerk, and Willow Creek gym teacher and total hottie Mitch Malone comes to her rescue. Posing as her date, he chases off the obnoxious dude, and then propositions her (no, not like that): Would she be willing to pose as his girlfriend at an upcoming family event? He’s tired of feeling looked down upon by the rest of his big family, and being in an established relationship with a great woman like April will help matters (he hopes).

April likes Mitch well enough, although they’re not exactly close. He’s good friends with her brother-in-law, and she knows he’s a decent guy, even though he has a reputation for being a huge flirt and sleeping around. They make a deal: April will be Mitch’s fake girlfriend, and in turn, he’ll help her out with her home renovation projects.

Naturally, the more time they spend together, the more the sparks start to fly. The two connect as friends, but also begin to feel a strong attraction. April has her doubts — yes, Mitch is kind and supportive (and hot), but he’s also almost 10 years younger, has lots of women’s names in his online calendar, and probably wants kids some day. What could he possibly see in her, beyond a short-term fling? This thing between can’t possibly mean anything… can it?

The books in this series are delightful, and Well Matched is no exception. I liked having a (somewhat) older woman in the lead romantic role — it’s interesting to see how she navigates rediscovering an interest in relationships, figuring out what comes next for her and what she wants now that “full-time mom” is no longer going to be her main definition.

April and Mitch as a couple have great chemistry, and even though it’s frustrating as a reader waiting for them to realize that their fake relationship has turned into something real, it’s still fun to watch their journey. I did find myself very annoyed with April later in the book, as she makes some choices that are counterproductive and are hurtful to Mitch. Mitch is written as an outwardly boisterous, non-serious character with a much deeper inner core, and while this book obviously had to end with a Happily Ever After, I couldn’t help but feel that in real life, after how April acts, an HEA would be unlikely.

My other chief complaint is that there isn’t enough of the book set at Faire! Yes, there’s some, and Mitch’s infamous kilt makes its annual appearance, but this is just a small segment of the book, and considering that Faire is the main connecting theme of this series, I wanted more.

That aside, Well Matched is a terrific read, and I love the audiobook narration, which really captures the bantering and the fun elements so well — and also the silliness of the Faire accents of the characters when they’re dressed up in their corsets, carrying swords, and engaging in medieval flirtation and jousting!

The end of the print edition of Well Matched includes a sneak preview of the upcoming 4th book, Well Traveled, due out in fall 2022, with Mitch’s cousin Lulu in the lead role. Can’t come soon enough for me!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall 2021 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books on My Fall 2021 To-read List. It’s so hard to stick with just 10! There are so many books I’m dying to read… but for purposes of this list, I’m sticking with upcoming new releases this time around.

Looks like my October and November will be especially busy!

Going by release date (except for #1), my top 10 are:

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

Release date: November 23rd

The book I’m most excited for! My family will have to excuse my anti-social obsessive reading behavior over Thanksgiving.

Horseman by Christina Henry

Release Date: September 28th

Ambush or Adore by Gail Carriger

Release date: October 1st

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

Release date: October 5th

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 5th

A Twist of Fate by Kelley Armstrong

Release date: October 5th

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

Release date: October 19th

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Release date: October 26th

Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Release date: November 2nd

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Release date: November 30th

What books are on your TTT list this week? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021. I just recently did a top 10 list of my summer TBR, which included mostly new releases, so I’ll attempt not to repeat myself!

July

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell – the 3rd Simon Snow book! (July 6)

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig (July 20 )

August

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (August 31)

September

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire — the 15th October Daye book! (September 14)

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune (September 21)

October

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley — I will ALWAYS read a new novel by this author! (October 5)

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (October 5)

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca — the 3rd book in the series. These books are so cute! (October 19)

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest (October 26)

November

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon — It’s the new Outlander book!! After a 7 year wait! (November 23)

What are your most anticipated new releases for the 2nd half of 2021? Do we have any in common?

Please share your links!

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