By Jen DeLuca
I’m gonna be the best damn wench he’s ever seen.”
Emily, who has been recently dumped by her long-term boyfriend, goes to her sister’s small Maryland town to assist in her recovery from a bad auto accident. Her sister can hardly walk and she is there to help. The small town is famous for the annual renaissance faire that is put on as a fundraiser for the school. Emily gets roped into it because her niece Caitlin wants to participate but can’t do so without an adult partner. Signing up, she and the head of the fair, Simon Graham strike sparks off of each other right away. He is a micromanaging and controlling “my way or the highway” type of guy. He doesn’t like how she filled out her form. He doesn’t like the “faire name” she picked out. He keeps giving her hostile and disapproving looks. Later, he seems to look down on her when she tells him she dropped out of college. What she doesn’t tell him is that she put her ex-boyfriend through law school with the understanding it would be her turn after he passed the bar. He cruelly dumped her before he could honor his promise. ( He should have paid her back, surely? I mean wow.) He makes her feel the same way her ex did: small and inadequate.
Can this romance be saved? Well yes. We learn the sad reason that Simon is resistant to changing the faire in any way and why he initially resents her light-hearted approach. It doesn’t hurt that he intriguingly seems to be another person and much more friendly to her, once he puts on his swashbuckling pirate costume. As Emily comes to understand him, they give way to their attraction, and a serious love affair ensues. There is the inevitable big conflict and both Emily and Simon have some changing and growing to do before the happy ending can occur.
I was initially attracted to this book because of the Renaissance Faire angle. I’ve been to at least 5 so far and I’m a big fan. Emily’s first-person voice is funny and likable. It is a light fun book with only some mild challenges to overcome (Molly needed to learn her worth, and Simon needed to let go of the past, move forward, and be his own man.) It didn’t completely ruin the book for me, but the one fly in the ointment was Emily’s paranoia and insecurity about Simon and her job at the book shop. It happened late in the book and at that point, there was no foundation for her to feel that way. In fact, it was made crystal clear to her that just the opposite was true. It was tiresome.
There are two follow-ups so far. The 3rd one starring Emily’s sister looks promising as her repression and anti-social tendencies made her an interesting character, ripe for development.
December 10, 2021