Amanda Reads: Well Met

I write to you with bleary, puffy eyes because I stayed up late last night to finish reading Jen DeLuca’s Well Met. When I first saw the synopsis of the book, I should’ve known something like this would happen, because, well, just read it yourself:

“All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca,” (Goodreads).Well Met cover

The sworn enemies having the hots for each other trope, but set against the backdrop of the Renaissance Faire? A protagonist in her mid to late twenties, literally the exact same age I am now? Yes, please, a thousand times.

I’ve been struggling to fit in enough reading as I’ve gotten older, something protagonist Emily (who has “most of” an English degree) would be familiar with. So, when I get sucked into a book deeply enough to stay up late reading it, it’s usually something that is just so perfectly within my wheelhouse. And as an English/Creative Writing degree holder who starts getting excited about Ren Fest around, oh, January, I’d say this book hits the target.

The basic premise is that Emily moves in with her older sister after a terrible breakup leaves her homeless and a car crash leaves her sister less than ambulatory. In order for her niece to participate in the Ren Fest she so desperately wants to be in, she needs to have an adult volunteer with her. Since Caitlin’s mom can’t exactly walk, let alone parade around in Renaissance garb serving drinks, Emily steps in to save the day. Which is where she meets Simon, who she hates upon first sight, though of course we as the readers know it won’t stay that way for long. 

Romances are so comforting because there is a certain predictability to them, an ease of the formula that is tried and true. And yet, every writer puts their own spin on it, and this book is no different. DeLuca writes such a sexy leading man that I did, in fact, stop reading the book to literally fan myself a few times. Yeah, the interactions between Simon and Emily in their Ren Fest personas are that good. 

I won’t dig much deeper into the plot because I don’t want to spoil how delightful it is, so I’ll simply say I highly recommend you romance loving nerds out there give this one a try. As a girl who grew up loving both sappy romantic comedies and watching Dragonball Z, who dreamed of one day playing Dungeons and Dragons, I sometimes feel like a unicorn–you’re a nerd girl or you’re into sappy, girly things, but both?! It’s so refreshing to see more and more writers putting the two together in their stories, shedding light on the fact that we all contain multitudes.

Well Met is an absolute delight, and I can’t wait to see what debut author DeLuca comes out with next. Something Dungeons and Dragons related, mayhaps? Just saying, I’d read the crap out of a book where two people who initially dislike one another roleplay characters who slowly fall in love… as they do so in real life, against their better judgement.


Amanda Reads: Waiting for Tom Hanks

Summer time=reading time. I had the joy of camping in the Adirondacks a few weeks ago, which of course meant that I got an extra dose of reading time.

Naturally, I spent it curled up with a lovely rom com of a book–Kerry Winfrey’s Waiting for Tom Hanks. 


I’ve been a fan of Kerry’s ever since I encountered her blog, A Year of Rom Coms, in which she spent a year watching and rewatching romantic comedies. Like many women around our age, I, too, grew up on romantic comedies, and was thrilled to see this blog filled with unapologetic joy for the genre. Romantic comedies over the past decade have fallen out of fashion, in part due to some incredibly valid criticism about their lack of diversity and reliance on sexist tropes, among other issues. While we are (thank goodness) starting to see Rom Coms again (thanks, Crazy Rich Asians & Netflix), there’s a special place in many of our hearts for the classics of our youths.

All that is to say, my favorite genre of read is without a doubt the romantic comedy style book. Naturally, I awaited the release of Waiting for Tom Hanks eagerly, sure that my fellow Ohioan romantic comedy fan would deliver a book I could fall in love with.

I was oh so correct on this front. While I expected something in the Young Adult vein, I was presently surprised to find the protagonist was exactly my age, struggling with the same existential career woes I am. Add in the fact that the book references Dungeons & Dragons with frequency, takes place in Ohio, and is littered with references to romantic comedies, and you’ve essentially created a Summoning Circle for one Amanda Kay Oaks.

This book took a few unexpected turns as I tried to do my usual “predict the plot” antics within the first few chapters. It has a delightful mix of romantic comedy tropes while still angling for something new and mixing it up where it counts. The protagonist can be a bit frustratingly unaware of the obvious, but seeing as that’s part of the genre, I could forgive her stubborn refusal to understand and process reality appropriately when it comes to The Love Interest.

Waiting for Tom Hanks features a wide array of well drawn characters, taking the time to hash out even the side characters with their own personal details and idiosyncrasies. I absolutely loved this book and it felt every bit like the written version of an on-screen romantic comedy. I’ve no doubt that I’ll be returning to this time and time again, and suggest that you pick it up, too.