I think what most people say about this book are right. This book is definitely not as light hearted as you think you could. It deals with some very personal and real life issues such as death and chronic illness of a family member, emotional abuse, and self doubt. In the end, my review mostly comes down to: For a book of this size, I wish there were less details about the Faire and more examination of the characters. For a book about 100 pages long, and more words about the characters, it would have been just fine. I felt like everything kind of happened really fast. Like I wish all the scenes were like 1-2 pages longer than they all were. If anything, it made me research Renaissance Faire’s in the area (there are two) and I”ll probably be attending at least one next year (they’re in the spring/summer). Anyway, I wish there was a bit more dialogue between the two characters. The logistics behind running the Faire for Emily were detailed and I liked that. I just wanted more flirty conversations between Simon and Emily as their Renaissance characters and as themselves; I wanted the angst to build more, basically.

As characters, I really loved Emily. Some people say Emily took out her previous relationship challenges on Simon and I think I would disagree there. I think it was more a reflection on herself than it was taking it out on Simon. I don’t think she was holding him to an unnecessarily high standard. I think she knew what she wanted and at the time when she talked to him, he couldn’t give it to her. Some people were also saying they didn’t like that Emily moved from one guy to the next and that they wanted her to do something for herself and they were disappointed she didn’t finish school. To that I would say, “That’s a dumb thing to say”. Emily didn’t seem all that interested in finishing school. April kept bringing it up. Finishing your degree isn’t everything. I finished my degree and don’t even use it. Same with my husband (he actually has two). A conventional life is not for everyone, and stop measuring people based on whether they went to college or not; that’s not cool. Emily found that she loved working in the bookshop/coffeeshop and she was happy and made the decision to stay working there despite not being with Simon. I hate that people are looking down on her for not finishing her degree. SO WHAT? MOVE ON PEOPLE.

I think the romance was done really well and I think both Simon and Emily had issues that they were not addressing. I do agree it would be nice for Emily to have a bit of self reflection and realize that Simon is not Jake, or whatever his name was. I think she did part of the work of working through that relationship, mainly that she deserves better—but the part where she learns to trust her partner more was not completely done. In turn, Simon unpack the relationship he had with the Renaissance Faire/stuff with his brother. But I think he was objectively very mean to Emily, in a way that wasn’t like entirely excused by what he’s been through.

I agree that the wooing was AMAZEBALLS and the flirting was off the charts a joy to watch unfold. I love the quiet heroes, and Simon definitely fit the bill. There’s a lot of criticism of this book that I think is valid, like the lack of character development and the how hostile Simon was at the very beginning (it was a little bordering on that—there’s no possible way for him to be the hero).

Really I think what the book needed was what I mentioned above: it needed more pages. This would have given the author space to explore the characters more, it would have given the scenes that felt rushed, more time to breathe. Overall, it’s not a bad debut at all. I will definitely pick up DeLuca’s second book, Well Played, next year. In a word, I wanted it to be more.