Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?
The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?
This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can't seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.
“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”
This is one of the best first lines in any book I’ve ever read. It seriously sets the tone for this delightful romcom that can only be summed up in one word: cute.
After her douchebag ex leaves her high and dry and suddenly homeless, Emily is forced to leave her life behind to begin anew in the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland. Emily moves into the home of her sister, April, who was in a terrible car accident, which left her with a shattered leg and an inability to properly take care of her teenage daughter. Emily assumes somewhat of a motherly role, taking care of her niece, Caitlin, basically shuttling her to wherever she needs to go. So, when Caitlin tries out for the town’s annual Renaissance Faire, Emily tags along and “volunteers” to take part in the Ren Faire so that Caitlin can participate in it.
And that’s where we meet Simon Graham.
Simon Graham is uptight and, for some reason that’s not apparent, really seems to dislike Emily. That’s one of the few problems I had with this book. It’s an enemies to lovers romance, but the reason why the two characters are enemies is never fully fleshed out. Simon is rude to Emily and Emily can’t stand Simon because he’s rude, but that’s about it. I think one of the reasons for the animosity may have been because Simon didn’t feel like Emily was taking the Ren Faire seriously. The Ren Faire means everything to Simon, as it was started by his late brother who tragically passed away from cancer three years prior. Since his brother’s passing, Simon has made it his mission to keep his brother’s legacy alive, almost obsessively so.
Unqualified for many of the positions with the Ren Faire, Emily is designated as a tavern wench, a role she takes to naturally having been a bartender. Over the course of the summer, Emily becomes acquainted with the residents of the small town she was forced to move to and actually begins to enjoy her role at the Ren Faire, even finding herself hopelessly drawn to Simon, who takes on the confident, flirtatious persona of the pirate character he portrays at the Faire.
Simon and Emily’s romance is a slow burn, which I enjoyed. The buildup was handled well and kept me listening (I listened to the whole book in one day). I loved peeling back Simon’s layers and getting to know him better. Simon is clearly damaged, as is Emily, and together they heal each other’s wounds. Like I said above, all in all, this was a cute read, with some pretty funny moments interlaced within. The audiobook was well-narrated, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet romcom to pass the time.