Welcome to #RomBkLove Day 9: Second Chances.
Second Chance romances can mean different things to different folks, but for this post, B. and I define it as 1) a romance that started, ended, and is starting again for an HEA/HFN or 2) childhood friends where one likes the other but nothing happened, then they get together as adults for an HEA/HFN.
B. and I have put together some of our favorite books where the characters get a second chance at love. We hope you enjoy these books as much as week have. And we’d love for you to join in! Please add your recommendations at the end of the post in the comment section, and join in the discussion on twitter, using the prompt #RomBkLove.
Cherish Me by Farrah Rochon (2018, self published) REVIEW
What happens to a happily married couple after nearly twenty years together? Cherish Me takes a hard and realistic look at the troubles couples can face after many years, life, and kids impact a marriage. There is no one big thing that causes Harrison and Willow to drift apart, but rather the wear and tear of life that takes its toll. Luckily, they give their relationship a SECOND CHANCE.
One thing I loved about this story is how the author infuses such genuine emotion and realism into the story, without making it overly dramatic. There is no cheating spouse or horrendous situation. Willow and Harrison still love each other deeply but have hit a rough spot. After twenty years, things don’t necessarily flow the same as the did when a couple first gets together. They are scared to talk to one another because they are both afraid of what the other may think/say/do. And there are no easy fixes in this relationship. They recognize there is a tough road ahead, and there will be bumps in the road. The author doesn’t sugarcoat the situation, but still finds a way for an HEA. [contemporary; m/f; rep: black couple; AOC]
I Want You Back by Lorelei James (2019, Berkley) REVIEW
Lucy and Jax have a history, including a beautiful daughter they both love. However, when Jax was a professional hockey player in the NHL, he was promiscuous (cheating before book), a drunk (before book), and after his daughter was born, he didn’t spend much time with her. Now Jax is retired and sober, living back home near his family, including Lucy and Mimi, those old feelings just won’t go away, leading this couple to a SECOND CHANCE at love.
Lucy and Jax are given a special gift: the chance to start again. Jax has grown so much from his self-destructive days as an alcoholic professional athlete. I love how open he is about his past sins and his need to accept responsibility. How he has reprioritized his life. How he is still growing. But it takes a woman like Lucy and a strong initial love to make this work. Lucy is special. She has learned to let go of the hurt because she has such a huge heart. I like that we didn’t have to go through the horrible to get to the good… we got glimpses via flashbacks, and now they are open and willing to work on things to be good co-parents to Mimi. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of work to trust again, but the worst is behind them by the start of this book. I appreciate that Ms. James gives us a fairytale romance, but rooted it in reality. This couple has been through a lot, and she doesn’t sugar coat some of the issues. [contemporary; m/f]
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (2019, Avon) REVIEW
While working in New York, Likotsi fell in love but had her heart broken. Trying to purge Fabiola out of her system, Likotsi begins her day off with a bucket list of must-see sites. Early in the day, she runs into her ex, who persuades Likotski to spend some time with her. From here we witness both the couple’s initial romance eight months ago via Fabiola’s flashbacks and their SECOND CHANCE at love via Likotsi’s present day POV.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy is a novella set in Ms. Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. It can be enjoyed as a standalone, but readers of the first two books will already be familiar with Likotsi and know what an awesome woman she is. While it was a whirlwind romance and love-at-first-sight the first time around, Fab dumped Likotsi via text and refused to return her messages. From the flashbacks, we learn the truth of what really happened. Meanwhile in the present, we learn of Likotsi’s ache and how she can’t give up on potential love and happiness. With its unique storytelling, we get a full story in the shorted space of a novella. [contemporary; f/f; rep: black lesbian couple; AOC]
Out of Sync by Bronwyn Green AUDIOBOOK REVIEW
(print October 2015; audiobook May 2018, Blunderwoman Productions)
Once a promising musician, Morgan walked away from what he loved to fulfill his father’s expectations. He hasn’t composed or played music in years, not since he walked away from his dreams, and the man he loved. Meanwhile, Jamie continued playing music after school, creating a life doing what he loves and is now a successful musician. Once best of friends falling in love, they haven’t spoken in over 10 years until Jamie decides to confront Morgan, giving them a SECOND CHANCE at happiness.
Right from the start, Out of Sync captured my mind and heart. I found myself engrossed in Jamie and Morgan’s story, uncovering what happened that drove a wedge between them, and watching them rediscover their passion and love for both music and each other. … The author does an amazing job capturing the longing and heartache both men have felt over the years. When they finally come together, it is amazingly sexy and passionate. I ached for the pair as they navigated the bumpy road to happiness. And their journey is filled with detours and potholes, causing this reader to cry out in heartbreak. I love the emotion the author packs into the story, crashing into me from all sides. [contemporary; m/m; rep: closeted gay male]
In Her Court by Tamsen Parker (2017, self-published) AUDIOBOOK REVIEW
Years ago, Evangeline “Van” Thompson thought her best friend Nate’s kid sister was cute, interesting, and WAY too off limits. Willa’s crush, however, ran much deeper, and she can’t help resenting Van’s refusal to acknowledge the woman she’s become. But, Van does notice the changes in Willa, and is as undeniably fascinated by her intelligence and determination as she is tempted by her humor and tennis skirts. Eventually, Van realizes that she doesn’t have all the answers, and losing Willa to her own fears is too high a price to pay, finally giving them both the SECOND CHANCE at a forever worth fighting for.
While I initially had some reservations about these characters, they won me over fairly quickly. Though Van is older and more “worldly,” it was heartening that it was fun, carefree Willa who was far more certain of her path in life. Their attraction evolved nicely from an unrequited crush to two adults who enjoy one another’s company—whether they’re working together towards a common goal or having sex. I also liked that the narrative wasn’t overly serious, allowing the playful “newness” of their relationship to balance out the heaviness of the doubts and disappointments they each carry. This is a very sweet HEA that won’t take a lot out of most readers, which I found to be a welcome ending. [contemporary romance; f/f; rep: lesbian female]
Forget Me Not by Brenda Jackson (2019, HQN Books)
Ashley and Devon Ryan worked hard to build a solid, loving marriage. And everything was as perfect as they could have hoped for—until Devon was killed in an auto accident on his way home to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Three years later, still mourning and unable to make peace with her loss, Ashley accepts her friends’ offer to go to gorgeous Catalina Cove, Louisiana to reassess her situation and hopefully discover a way to move forward. But, seeing Devon there alive and living as “Ray Sullivan” turns her world inside out. With no memory of his former life, Ray already struggles with who he feels he should be, and can’t understand why he finds the beautiful newcomer impossible to resist. With patience, determination, and a lot of hope, Ashley and Ray find themselves on the cusp of the unlikeliest of SECOND CHANCES, whether they manage to recapture their past, or not.
Forget Me Not is the sequel in the Catalina Cove series, and unlike any other second chance romance I’ve read. One of many things I liked was that, even before the accident, Ashley and Devon’s marriage hadn’t been perfect, but was absolutely worth fighting for. In fact, those earlier trials only made their bond stronger. Another thing that made this story fly by (too quickly!) was the author’s ability to shift from races of apprehension to plateaus of relief and back again, building the tension of the narrative to a thread that was going to hurt when it snapped. Ultimately, I thought Forget Me Not was a genuinely lovely tale about two hearts that were separated, not by arguments or infidelity, but by death itself, yet somehow find their way home. [contemporary romance; m/f; rep: black couple; AOC]
Where We Left Off by Roan Parrish (2016, Dreamspinner Press)
When Leo Ware first met (and eventually kissed) beautiful, mesmerizing Will Highland at the age of eighteen, he knew instantly what he wanted—and that he’d never find it in his tiny hometown of Holiday, Michigan. Nearly two years later, he’s earned a full scholarship to NYU and is ready to begin the rest of his life. Of course, it’s not a coincidence that Will lives in New York City, too. Neither is it a surprise that Leo hopes Will wants him as much as he wants Will. But, truly knowing someone isn’t always easy, and Leo quickly learns that loving Will is probably going to hurt more than he can bear. Still, with time, experience, and an open heart, Leo and Will discover that taking a SECOND CHANCE on each other might end up okay after all.
Where We Left Off is the third in the Middle of Somewhere series, which I loved from the first book. This isn’t an easy HFN—it’s complicated, heartbreaking in places, and there’s nothing tidy to it. It’s also hard to watch Leo hurt like he does, especially when there isn’t really a bad guy to blame. But, Where We Left Off isn’t about growing up, so much as it’s just about growing, which can often be a long, storm-trampled process. Watching Leo go through all he does ended up being very rewarding for me as a reader. Seeing Will forced to accept a few new truths was fantastic, as well. And while both Leo and Will acknowledge the uncertainty of the future, the happiness they find by the end of the story seeped right off the pages and into my heart. [contemporary romance; LGBTQIA; m/m]
Licks by Kelly Siskind (2018, self-published) REVIEW
Growing up as neighbors, Gwen never told her best friend August that she was in love with him. And instead, stopped talking to him in high school when he started dating someone else. After a year and a half of the silent treatment, Gwen drunk texts August on her birthday, which leads to a mistake that ends their friendship for good. Fast forward nine years later. August is a full-time musician touring in Europe, and he never got over his feelings for Gwen. He returns home to see Gwen because he has an important message for her from her deceased mom. As one serendipitous event leads to another, the pair begin a 36-hour quest to discover the identity of Gwen’s father giving them a SECOND CHANCE to find true love.
What can I say about Licks other than it is one of the best stories I’ve read? Right from the opening chapter, I had all the feels for Gwen and August. Their history is gutting and relatable. I was flooded with emotions and the need to keep reading because I had to know they would make it. While the romance is utterly emotional, both tender and gritty, the plot to uncover the name of Gwen’s father is captivating. The dual aspects of the plot—unrequited, unrealized romance and the search for Gwen’s father—played together perfectly, weaving and dancing around one another and together with sublime effect. [contemporary romance; m/f]
Now that you’ve read some of our favorite SECOND CHANCE stories, we hope you’ll share some of your favorite #RomBkLove!