Well Traveled isn’t my most well loved book in the Well Met companion series.
Well Traveled is the fourth book in the Well Met contemporary romance companion series by Jen DeLuca. The Well Met series follows four different women as they fall in love at a renaissance faire. The fourth book, Well Traveled, follows Louisa “Lulu” Malone, the cousin of a character from the last installment in the series, after she quits her job. As a break, her cousin suggests that she follows the Dueling Kilts, a band who plays at renaissance faires, on the road during the summer. At first, Lulu can’t imagine herself taking a break, let alone a break traveling to renaissance faires, but she soon finds some unexpected love for the faires and Dex, a member of the band.
Before I go into my review, I would like to include a disclaimer. Usually in contemporary romance companion series, it isn’t necessary to read the previous books because each installment can stand on its own. Well Traveled, however, contains major spoilers for the second book of the series, Well Played. I would definitely recommend at least reading Well Played in this series if you are interested in reading Well Traveled, as some of the plot in that book is heavily referenced in this book. As a result, in my review, there may be spoilers for the Well Played. I include a SPOILER notice before I include them in my review.
Overall, Well Traveled isn’t my least favorite book in the series, but it isn’t my favorite book in the series either. There are some aspects of this book that I think fans of the series will enjoy, but other aspects which I feel missed the mark. When I first saw the synopsis of this book, I was excited. I wasn’t expecting another installment in the series, but I was interested in the direction that this book would take. I did enjoy Lulu’s character in the previous book of this series and I was interested in learning more about Dex, who has appeared in multiple books in the series. That being said, I didn’t get the depth that I wanted in either of their characters. Consequently, their relationship felt flat and unmemorable for me.
One of my biggest issues with this book is that it barely scratches the surface on Lulu and Dex as characters. DeLuca did try to give each character an interesting backstory. Lulu, like Mitch in the previous book, comes from a very judgmental and critical family. Lulu constantly pushes herself to succeed, and as a result, lost who she really is in the process. On the other hand, Dex is never taken seriously by his family and his contributions are often overlooked. But… that’s all we get as readers, repeated over and over again. Even though the characters make changes in their lives by the end of the novel, I felt like I didn’t see a lot of progression, especially concerning Dex’s character in this book. This is one book where I really wished that I could have more than one point of view.
I had similar feelings towards the romance in this book. Lulu and Dex say they like each other, but I don’t see a deep emotional connection like I have with other contemporary romances. Since I didn’t really know them as characters, I didn’t feel as invested in their relationship and I didn’t fully buy into their love story. I didn’t really get why they were so interested in the other person. Like with their backstories, a lot of information is repeated over and over: they know their relationship can’t go beyond the summer, but they like each other so much. Even though there is a resolution to these issues, I didn’t find it to be very realistic.
I have discussed repetitiveness quite a few times in this review and I have found this to seep into other parts of the novel as well. As I mentioned, this book heavily references the second book in the series. Well Played was definitely my least favorite book in the series, so I really didn’t like having to see it rehashed multiple times in this book. There were also several lines in this book repeated over and over again so many times that they lost their humor. The plot itself lended to these issues as well since the characters are packing up and going to a new renaissance faire every week. As a result, it didn’t seem like the plot was moving forward to me.
Another aspect which I think contributed to these issues was that this book was the most far removed from the original series. This book does not primarily take place at the renaissance faire featured in the earlier books. While this book does feature some previous characters, Stacey and Daniel (from Well Played) as well as the Dueling Kilts, they are not the favorites among the series. Additionally, Lulu’s family is a large component of her backstory, but they aren’t really present throughout the novel which takes away from the tension surrounding that part of her story.
My biggest problem with this book, however, were the references to Well Played, the second book in the series.
At the end of Well Played, I could not believe that Stacey and Daniel were together after everything he did in that novel. He is a huge red flag for me, which was even more apparent in Well Traveled. Despite everything Daniel did, he continues to blame Dex for his actions. Even more alarming, Stacey started to blame Dex for all these actions too. Additionally, Daniel is a major reason for all the drama at the end surrounding Lulu and Dex because of inaccurate statements that he makes.
On one hand, I really did like that Lulu called Stacey and Daniel out on what they said. I feel like Stacey and Daniel’s romance wasn’t really challenged that much in their original story. At the same time, this made me dislike Stacey and Daniel even more as a couple. After you read a romance book, you want to love them as a couple and see them together forever as a couple, especially if you see them in later installments as a series. While I understand Stacey and Daniel would be a part of this story due to their connection to the Dueling Kilts, I wish this aspect of the story was handled differently.
END OF SPOILERS
Overall, I just wanted more from this book. For me, the characters and the plot fell flat because they weren’t given thee depth that they needed. While it isn’t my least favorite in the series, it isn’t my favorite either. I give Well Traveled 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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