Discussion: Second Chance Romances

Reflecting on My Love/Hate Relationship with Second Chance Romances

THE TROPE

Two individuals are in love but then something happens, leading them to break up.  For some reason or other, they’re back in each other’s lives. Time is especially pivotal here. What happened during the time apart? How has distance, emotionally and, often, physically, affected our leads such that romance is still possible? Eventually, one thing leads to another, feelings can no longer be ignored, and they’re back together. Maybe this time around, the ending will be a better one. Better yet, maybe there won’t be an ending because they’ll be together forever.


Second chance romances always leave me with twisted emotions, torn between anger (e.g. Don’t do it! He doesn’t deserve you! ) and swooning (e.g. He loves you! You still love him! Just kiss each other already!). After reading Priscilla Oliveras’s Anchored Hearts, I had a sudden revelation about why I always feel a slightly uncomfortable with second chance romances. (Light bulb moment!)

I hate second chance romances because of the vulnerability that comes with it–this is where the discomfort comes from.  Someone can always hurt you at any time, but the problem with second chance romances is often times one person has already hurt the other–someone hurt you or you hurt them. Now, you’re giving them an opportunity to do it again, but what’s worse is that you’re doing it with your eyes wide open–I guess this can be a good or a bad thing. It also feels like you’re giving them permission to do it again. I hate this feeling and it usually rears itself just about every second chance romance novel I read.

Yet, I continue to subject myself to this pain because I also can’t help loving the trope. A new beginning brings with it hope that the outcome will be different. Hopefully, time and distance has allowed each to grow, to mature. It’s not just knowing everything that went wrong or even right, but understanding what happened. Maybe, we will be smarter this time around. Past hurts can be overcome. Maybe happily ever after is possible with each other. But then there’s always this little fear in the back of my mind, whispering that hope can be a dangerous thing.

I’m a sucker for second chances, and I’m a sucker for hope even though it means restarting something that might lead to painful consequences. Then again, I’m usually reading this trope in a romance novel where HEA’s are guaranteed. (Thank goodness!) My favorite second chance romances are where there is growth and lots of groveling, especially on the part of the love interest. It helps to tamper that niggling discomfort that the lead is making themself too vulnerable and they’ll be hurt all over again.

Second Chance Romances

Persuasion_cover

Persuasion (1817)
by Jane Austen
ASN/ISBN: 9780192802637


**One of my favorite Austen novels where time has allowed for greater introspection by the offending party. **

Goodreads Summary
Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.

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The Good Luck Charm (2018)
by Helena Hunting
ASN/ISBN: 9781538760154


**Not nearly enough groveling for me but an ultimately satisfying read.**

Goodreads Summary
Lilah isn’t sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career, or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she’s no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.

Ethan Kane wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.

Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let him in, though, she finds out their reunion has nothing to do with her and everything to do with his game. But Ethan’s already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he’ll do anything to keep from losing her again.

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Daring and the Duke (2020)
by Sarah MacLean
ASN/ISBN: 7980062691996


**Second Chance Romance/Lovers-to-Enemies-to-Lovers novel with so much groveling from the male love interest that I couldn’t help but love it. No discomfort here at all. Nearly perfect. My favorite read of the quarter so far (My Review)**

Goodreads Summary
Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best, until the man she once loved returns.

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back… and make her his duchess.

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.

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In Case You Missed It (2020)
by Lindsey Kelk
ASN/ISBN: 9780008384654


**While it’s a bit slow and Ros isn’t the most interesting protagonist, I added it here because it provides a different perspective on second chance romances from the other books listed. The overall message of the novel resonated with me as well. (My Review)**

Goodreads Summary:
When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

AnchoredHearts_cover

Anchored Hearts (2021)
by Priscilla Oliveras
ASN/ISBN: 9781420150193
Publication: April 27, 2021


**The one that got me thinking about second chance romances. Alejandro’s light bulb moment happens on the pages, but I really wanted to smack Anamaria over the head and make sure she knew what she was doing because Alejandro is pretty selfish. (My Review)**


Goodreads Summary
Award-winning photographer Alejandro Miranda hasn’t been home to Key West in years–not since he left to explore broader horizons with his papi’s warning echoing in his ears. He wouldn’t be heading there now if it wasn’t for an injury requiring months of recuperation. The drama of a prodigal son returning to his familia is bad enough, but coming home to the island paradise also means coming face to face with the girl he left behind–the one who was supposed to be by his side all along…

Anamaría Navarro was shattered when Alejandro took off without her. Traveling the world was their plan, not just his. But after her father’s heart attack, there was no way she could leave–not even for the man she loved. Now ensconced in the family trade as a firefighter and paramedic, with a side hustle as a personal trainer, Anamaría is dismayed that just the sight of Alejandro is enough to rekindle the flame she’s worked years to put out. And as motherly meddling pushes them together, the heat of their attraction only climbs higher. Can they learn to trust again, before the Key West sun sets on their chance at happiness?


How do you feel about second chance romances?

Hurricane Summer (2021)

By Asha Bromfield
ASN/ISBN: 9781250622235
Publication: May 4, 2021

GOODREADS | PURCHASE

Welcome to my leg of the blog tour for Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield (April 26 – May 10). Thank you to Wednesday Books for allowing me to be part of this tour. Links to different sections are below, but also feel free to scroll on through.


DESCRIPTiON

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Age group: YA
Genres: Contemporary

In this sweeping debut, Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise―all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic―and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

Content Warnings (For a more comprehensive list please see Book Trigger Warnings):
abuse (physical/emotional), cheating, colorism, death, incest, sexual assault


ABOUT THe AUTHOR

Asha Bromfield - Author Photo, Copyright Felice Trinidad

Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, and baking vegan desserts. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.

Instagram | Twitter


REViEW

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley as part of my participation in the blog tour. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Hurricane Summer is an appropriate title for the experience Tilla has in Jamaica while visiting her father for two months. Her hopes of reuniting with her dad and spending time with him over the summer go astray as soon as she gets there, proving once again why she feels the way she does about him. It hurt my heart to know that both she and her sister Mia waited so long to see their father only to hardly spend time with him. The father-daughter relationship was the heart of the novel but so many additional issues, including classism and colorism, piled on top of it that there was never time to fully explore each issue. The conversation Tilla has with her cousin about colorism is an especially poignant one though. This was one of my favorite moments in the book. I liked their relationship.

I’m a fan of emotional reads. The book tugged at me right away with Tilla longing for her dad’s love, secretly hoping to repair her broken image of him. As things slowly begin to spiral downward, with hurricane warnings abound, my anxiety level increased along with Tilla’s confusion about what exactly was going on around her. Just about everything that happens, except for moments of respite with her cousin Andre who might be the only character I liked in the book, is heart breaking. I kept wondering when it would stop. The answer? Like a hurricane, it’s unrelenting. However, as it neared the end, the final few chapters didn’t have the same impact. One event in particular did not add much to the story, and I felt it was unnecessary. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the ending.

One of the weaker parts of the novel is the romance. I couldn’t buy into it, and I was constantly questioning Tilla’s decisions regarding her love interest. The connection felt superficial at best, and when the word love is mentioned, I was taken aback. I couldn’t see how their limited interactions suddenly turned into love. But, the most difficult part for me was Tilla knowing the complications that would ensue from continuing the relationship yet still choosing to pursue it.

I was immersed in the book because of the writing. It’s poetic and the descriptions kept me reading–one of the most memorable being when Mia and Tilla bite into mangoes. Tilla feels a lot, and Bromfield was able to place me in Tilla’s emotional state of mind. It’s also well-paced. The plot moves along, never feeling disjointed or abrupt, despite the multitude of things that happen. I never felt the urge to jump pages or chapters to get to the end, with the exception of some of the heavier components of the book.

Hurricane Summer‘s beautiful cover hides a devastating coming of age novel about a young woman trying to come to terms with her relationship with her father while on vacation in what looks like paradise. It’s a heart wrenching novel filled with multiple events meant to break Tilly, culminating in what she decides to do: will she break, or will she overcome them? It’s a departure from the books I normally read, with a slew of triggers that pile on one after the other; it’s a heavy read. Despite the this, I did like the book even though it might not have hit all the marks for me. If you decide to read it, please be aware of the content warnings. I’ve listed them above in the book description, but I’ll include it here too: abuse (physical/emotional), cheating, colorism, death, incest, and sexual assault. Again, for a more comprehensive list, please see Book Trigger Warnings.

Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020)

by Rachel Lynn Solomon
ASN/ISBN: 9781534440241
Publication: July 14, 2020

**May contain spoilers. Please proceed with caution.**

When Neil is announced as the school’s valedictorian, it puts a dent in Rowan’s diabolical daydream of having him finally bow to her as the more formidable opponent. Now, she has only one last chance to beat him, the school’s annual scavenger hunt for graduating seniors known as the Howl. The competition takes an unexpected turn when she finds out a group of seniors are out to eliminate both her and Neil, turning the academic rivals into an unlikely team. Spending time working with each other as opposed to against one another has Rowan reevaluating her perception of Neil, seeing him in a different (possibly more rosy-colored) light.

As a fan of Sleepless in Seattle, Rachel Lynn Solomon had me at Seattle but my adoration of the book is all Solomon’s doing. “It was like…magic” mixed with a hefty dose of nostalgia when I first read it last summer. It remained much the same when I reread it recently. During my first reading, words evaded me when I tried writing a review. Even months after, I was unable to express how I felt about my best read of 2020. As May comes around with graduation ceremonies abound, I finally found the words to write something coherent.

Today Tonight Tomorrow completely and unexpectedly overwhelmed me. It felt like I was thrown back into high school. I was flooded with nostalgia as I simultaneously lived Rowan’s last day of high school and recalled celebrating my last days–mine was nowhere near as exciting as the Howl but I did get one last hurrah with friends.

Rowan and Neil were well-rounded characters. We learn about their hopes, dreams, and fears. I couldn’t help but adore them as they turned from rivals into an unexpected team. Initially, they have a one-dimensional relationship due to their rivalry but teaming up forces them into a different relationship that allows them to discover different sides of the other. While the events of the book take place in the span of 24 hours, the feelings that blossom in a single night don’t feel new at all–just newly uncovered. The feelings have been nurtured throughout their rivalry, and the layers of their relationship are now being peeled back, or maybe more accurately ripped off like a bandaid considering the time frame. With the book told strictly from Rowan’s point of view, it was entertaining to observe her thoughts and feelings, to see the different stages of her discovery, and to witness her initial shock that (gasp!) Neil is a person with feelings (I’m completely exaggerating here), that he could be someone she would feel anything other than antagonism toward. It was deeply satisfying.

There are so many things I admire about Rowan, including her passion and drive to go after what she wants (like bringing Neil down). One of my favorite scenes is when her friends tell her that for someone she dislikes, Neil occupies an alarming amount of her thoughts and time. Rowan thinks they’re clearly out of their minds for suggesting she feels anything beyond wanting to take him down. I couldn’t help but also agree that her friends were onto something. I also admire her commitment to her writing aspirations, which leads to Rowan explaining her love of romance novels. I agree with her assessment of the genre and the less than warm reception it generally receives. Solomon, through Rowan, helped me be comfortable with my love for romance novels even as my friends cringed when I (cautiously) confessed my undying love for the genre.

In an interview, she says the book is an homage/a love letter to Seattle. What a love letter it is! I’ve never been to Seattle, but I’ve always wanted to visit one day. Solomon created a sense of urgency to visit the rainy city, as though I should have done it yesterday. She does a tremendous job creating a sense of place with the vivid descriptions of the many places, both touristy spots and hidden gems, throughout Seattle. All this is possible because Solomon isn’t just a writer, she’s a conjurer of images and feelings, able to stir my long-forgotten memories of high school to life and make Rowan and Neil feel alive.

Today Tonight Tomorrow solidified Solomon as an automatic buy author for me. If you’re still wondering if I recommend Today Tonight Tomorrow, then I haven’t done a good job of divulging my love for this novel. I hope you’re itching to read it, even if you’ve already read it before. It’s my chef’s kiss of 2020!

To deal with the feelings you might have after finishing the book (book coma anyone?), here’s a short list of things that might help. I wish I had prepared them in advance. You know what they–whoever they are–say, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”

GRADUATiON PLAYLiST

YouTube | Spotify

Six Degrees of Separation: May 2021

**I have to do a shout to Mikaela at MikaelaReads first. This is my first Six Degrees post and I wouldn’t have a first post had I not seen this meme on Mikaela’s blog in April. I enjoyed the meme so much I decided to do it too. **

HOW IT WORKS:
Six Degrees of Separation is a meme that began with Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman and has been hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best since 2016. Each month a new book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Links can be formed in multiple ways. For instance, books can be linked through author, themes, settings, or even publishing year. Links can also be more personal such as books you reread often or books that remind you of a time in your life. The possibilities are limitless!

Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

STARTING BOOK: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary is the first in a series of middle grade books about sisters. Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever reading this particular book or series by Cleary, but her name is a part of my childhood because she wrote Dear Mr. Henshaw.

DearMrHenshaw_cover

Dear Mr. Henshaw, on the other hand, was a book I had to read for class. It’s about a boy who writes to his favorite author Boyd Henshaw every school year. They become friends through these letters, and Mr. Henshaw is a source of encouragement. Guess who also wrote to one of her favorite authors?

DealingWithDragons_cover

Me! I wrote a letter to Patricia C. Wrede, author of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, when I was in elementary school and she wrote me back! I don’t know where the letter is anymore, and I can’t remember the content of the letter, except that it was encouraging. I probably told her something about wanting to write when I grew up. I treasured it so much and even shared it with my teacher. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a set of four books. The first three books are about Cimorene, a girl who decides to go live with a dragon, and in the last book her son is the main protagonist. Dealing With Dragons is the one I’ll use to make the connection because this is the earliest book I remember reading (and loving) with dragons; thus, igniting my love for fantasy novels, kickass protagonists, and dragons. Now, speaking of dragons…

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There’s this Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While I never read the book by Stieg Larsson, I watched the movies and was blown away by the awesomeness of Lisbeth Salander. She’s a punk prodigy and is enlisted by journalist Mikael Blomkvist to help figure out what happened to a woman who disappeared over 40 years ago. Salander has the dragon tattoo and is a kickass protagonist. Who else is a kickass protagonist that is very good at what she does and is enlisted for help?

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Zafira bint Iskander of We Hunt the Flame is known as the Hunter and is gifted with her bow and arrow. She disguises herself as a man so that she can bring back food for her village. She enters a forest and is always able to return whom while others are unable to make it back alive, or if they do, they’re not the same when they return, which is why she is sought out to go on a journey to bring magic back Arawiya. It was published in 2019, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until recently. This was one of my favorite reads at the beginning of 2021.

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Also published in 2019 is Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. Holmes’s debut book is about a woman whose husband died in a car accident. A year after his death, she rarely leaves her home so people think she’s still devastated over his loss. Her best friend’s childhood best friend Dean needs a place to stay while he tries to figure out why he can’t throw a baseball straight anymore. He moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house and they become friends. This was one of the few books that set me on the path toward not only overcoming a long reading drought but consuming romance novels one after the other.

One of my latest reads with just the right amount of romance in it is Tricia Levenseller’s YA fantasy Blade of Secrets. Two sisters are on the run with a mercenary and a scholar to hide a weapon commissioned by a warlord who wants to reunite 6 countries under a single rule, the warlord’s rule. I hadn’t expected the romance and was fueled by the intriguing plot because the weapon was created by one of the sisters, Ziva, a blacksmith who imbues her weapons with magic. I’ll be posting a review for it soon (spoiler alert: I liked it…a lot.)

ENDING BOOK: Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

That was an unexpected ride through books I loved when I was young and books I now enjoy as an adult (more like a big kid). Also, I didn’t expect to end back up at a book about sisters.

Asian Readathon: May 2021

Start Date: May 1, 2021
End Date: May 31, 2021

I was supposed to be working last night but I needed to create my TBR for the Asian Readathon hosted by Cindy (withcindy). I was suddenly reminded of the Asian readathon while scrolling through my feed. (I know, I know…that’s not work either.) This is my first year participating in it, and I’m excited. (Look at me branching out and doing more readathons! Woohoo!) You can watch Cindy’s announcement video or access the Google doc for more information.

The goal of the readathon is to encourage reading more books by Asian authors and what better month than May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to do it in! While challenges can be combined, the twist is that books should feature a character or an author of a different Asian ethnicity. If one book features a Japanese character, then the next book read should a character of a different ethnicity/nationality for it to fulfill any remaining challenges. I really like the push for diversification.

  1. Read any book written by an Asian author.
  2. Read any book featuring an Asian protagonist.
  3. Read any book written by an Asian author in your favorite genre.
  4. Read any nonfiction book written by an Asian author.
  5. Read any book written by an Asian author that’s not US-centric.

I know that I’m not as productive when school/work is in session, but hopefully I can get these done. The most difficult one for me will be reading a nonfiction book. ACK! Unless it’s something I HAVE TO read, I tend to stay away from nonfiction because I use books for escapism…

PLANNeD TBR

This has already undergone multiple transformations because the diversity twist that seemed fun was a bit harder than expected. This is the final planned TBR–keyword is planned. Heh…

Author
Protagonist
Fave Genre
Non Fiction
Not U.S.-Centric