ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.
I’m so blown by away this debut, and it is one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2019. You see, every fall I attend the Renaissance fair in Ohio. It is always my favorite annual event. I love everything from the atmosphere to the actors decked out in costumes, to the food and shows.
So it’s no surprise this book was written for me and that niche I love. This book stars Emily, a young woman who recently broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a small town to live with her older sister. Emily’s sister was in an accident and needs extra help around the house. But Emily also helps take care of her niece, and an activity they end up becoming involved in together is the summer Renaissance fair.
Emily then meets the fair director, Simon, who is also the high school English teacher. The two immediately start off on the wrong foot and do not seem to get along in real life. But when Emily becomes Emma the tavern wench and Simon becomes the cocky pirate, Ian Blackthorn, at the fair, their chemistry is contagious.
Of course you can guess this evolves into a love/hate relationship, and y’all, I was living for it. But it’s so much more than a romcom; there are elements of grief and healing, discovering yourself, and so many themes of friendship and community. I was loving the small town vibes since I am also from a small town. I loved how even during non-fair scenes, Emily was working in a book store. Like, wow, Ren fairs AND bookshops in one book? THANK YOU, JEN DELUCA!
This is one of the cutest and most heartfelt books I’ve ever read. Emily and Simon are both so multi-layered, and I adored watching them interact both in and out of fair character. You will also never unsee Simon as Colin O’Donoghue as Captain Hook. 😉
Trigger/content warnings: grief, loss of a loved one.
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