A long time ago, I wrote a post about how I really don’t like second chance romances, but I had five exceptions that I talked about. Since I made that post, I think my thoughts on Second Chance Romances have sort of evolved. It is still not my favorite trope, but I do think I have a greater appreciation for it and I think, I hope, I might be better able to pinpoint what I like in a second chance so I can do a better job picking ones I like. In this post, I’m going to look at five second chance romances I loved last year and try to figure out what makes them special.
A Reunion of Rivals by Reese Ryan
This category romance with a second chance is definitely a book I would not have expected to love. Quinn and Max dated when they were much younger–she was just about to enter college and he had been in college for a couple years maybe. They broke up at the end of the summer and Max broke Quinn’s heart. Now they’re shoved back together because of professional reasons and that pull between them is still there. So I think I liked this second chance for a few reasons. One is that Max made a gesture that he’s never broadcasted and is really sweet, but also a spoiler so I won’t say more than that. Two is that they were young and helpfully, the reason they broke up is not that one of them cheated. Three is that Quinn still has some hurt feelings and Max never acts like she should be over it really. I liked that Max seemed to understand, maybe because he also still felt pain over what happened, that just because something happened a long time ago, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a fresh start. Also, Quinn didn’t take Max’s self-protective bullshit. She stood up to him and I always love that. My ARC Review is here if you’d like more thoughts.
A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane
This book takes place two years after the events of A Heart of Blood and Ashes. In it, we follow Lizzan, a disgraced and outcast soldier from Koth, who feels betrayed by Aerax, who she views as having abandoned her, despite the fact that they were childhood friends turned lovers. Aerax has, what he views, as an extremely compelling reason for making the choice that he did, but that doesn’t stop him from desperately wanting Lizzan back in his life. I think this second chance romance worked for me for a multitude of reasons. One, Aerax is genuinely contrite and he’s also got a really solid reason for making the choices he did. Two, Lizzan and Aerax are just so good together. Three, the line, “If I have to become a monster to save you, that is what I will do.” Like…. My whole heart. Here’s my ARC Review if you’d like more of my thoughts.
One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie
One Last Chance was a book I requested as an advanced copy because I know several friends love Beharrie’s writing. I left the book knowing exactly why they like her writing, because it’s fantastic. This particular book follows Zoey and Sawyer and is written in two separate timelines. Zoey and Sawyer in the present haven’t seen each other in nearly six years, but they used to be best friends who fake dated and then real dated… This book left me no room to not feel so deeply empathetic with Zoey, to not fully understand her decision to leave Sawyer, while also letting me feel the sense of betrayal Sawyer felt in the being left. These two beautiful characters love each other so much and you can feel that and you can see it. There’s a deep sense of loss that both of them feel because they haven’t been part of one another’s lives for a couple of years. I think part of the reason, maybe the main reason, this book worked for me is how well Beharrie did the character work. I understood Zoey and Sawyer and I felt deeply for them both. My ARC review is here if you’d like to read more thoughts.
Flying Gold by Vanessa North
Flying Gold is a second chance romance between Tiffani and Matt, who dated and fell in love in high school and had plans until Matt ruined things between them. Tiffani is still grieving her father’s death when Matt’s car shows up in her life. She’s also still angry with him for messing them up so carelessly a decade ago. Matt is now a cinematographer or director or some such. Anyway, it’s very obvious from the beginning that he (a) regrets how things went with Tiffani and (b) wants to fix things. As for why this book worked for me, I think it’s partially just because of how much I love Tiffani. Tiffani is big mad. But then she has this moment where she thinks about how she’s been treating Matt and realizes she doesn’t want to let this bitterness really be a part of who she is anymore. And for his part, Matt is unbelievably patient and contrite. He just wants to be who Tiffani wants. There’s a lot about trust in this book and I really loved the way it’s handled. I believed their HEA even if the conflict at the end had me rolling my eyes. Here’s my ARC review if you’d like more of my thoughts.
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Maddox and Cole have a whole past that I’m reluctant to spoil, actually, but let’s just say it was high stakes and high drama. Unlike a lot of the others, this one I think I liked the second chance element by nature of the fact that the stakes were so high and stayed so high throughout this wild and twisty turny suspense book that by the end of it, I was like, y’all deserve to be happy together forever. I really enjoyed this one, but it’s definitely not like the others!
So, in conclusion, I think one of the things that makes it easier for me to support a second chance romance is when the first chance occurred when the couple was young and there have been years of personal growth away from one another. Or at least that’s my current working theory on the thing most likely to make a second chance romance work for me. The other thing is probably authors who are really good at writing emotions because I think it’s usually really important for me to understand someone’s decisions and thought processes when their actions hurt a person they claim to love. What do you like about second chance romances? Please share your favorites and your thoughts with me below!