If you’ve been following my reviews for awhile, you may have noticed that, well, this is awkward… I don’t actually like second chance romances. Yes, we’re talking about my LEAST favorite trope – possibly only surpassed by the dreaded SECRET BABY. So you’d better believe that if I rate a second chance romance 5 stars, then it is GOOOOOD.
Just because I tend to be a little more particular about this sub genre, that doesn’t mean I hate them all. A second chance romance just has to have all the right ingredients to earn 5 stars from me. There are so many things that can take me out of the romance:
Did they sleep with other people while they were separated?
A lot of other people?
Were they thinking of their true love while in a relationship with someone else?
Is there another ex/current flame still in the picture?
Why’d they break up?
All of these questions and more run through my head every time I read a second chance romance, so I’m usually wary when I start turning the pages. Even the best authors can stumble from time to time trying to craft a story where there’s a valid reason for the couple to have spent time apart, but also a valid reason for them to get back together. That can be extremely difficult to execute properly.
I recently read a second chance romance where the couple spent over a decade apart, had kids with other people, then finally got together. But all of the conflict could’ve been avoided with a simple conversation. That’s…. ugh, that’s so frustrating to me. I get that it makes for great angst, but it doesn’t do anything to connect me to the story.
How do you feel about second chance romances? They’re popular for a reason. Whether they give you hope that love can find a way, or you just relish the heartache, there are plenty of reasons to seek out these stories. I’ve read some excellent ones – a few that hurt so good to read and a few that managed to remain light despite the heavy subject.
I’ve shared some of my favorites below – and I will continue to update this page as I find more. With each, I’ve explained all of the reasons why the book DID work for me, despite it having an uphill battle. I’ve also included a link to my review and purchase links for easy shopping.
Text Me Baby One More Time by Teagan Hunter
I LOVE it when there is texting in romance novels – it’s like banter condensed into its purest form, ensuring that the reader feels like they’re part of the conversation. That’s what drew me to this series of standalones – each one features plenty of texting, stays light and fun while also touching on heavier subjects, and has some truly spectacular chemistry between the characters. This one has the most angst of the bunch, matching up an unlikely couple who have had a few bumps in the road to happiness. It reminded me of all the reasons why I fell in love with Hunter’s work (if you haven’t read Let’s Get Textual yet, do yourself a favor and give it a try).
The Way We Loved by Tinley Blake
The debut novel from this author, I was blown away by the quality of this small town romance. It reunites a couple who were once great together, but needed to find their own way before they could have a forever kind of love. It’s fresh and sexy without a ton of angst to weigh it down, and the characters are genuinely good people who are easy to like.
Damiano de Luca by Parker S. Huntington
Huntington is an incredibly skilled writer, but what really hooked me into this book was the prequel story (Renata Vitali) that shows how this couple fell in love. That book is intense, a little dark, and a high school romance that shows all the reasons why these two WORK. By the time I started reading Damiano de Luca, I was already 100% invested in the couple and wanting to see them reunite. Older and a slightly wiser, this couple still has a volatile, intense relationship, but I was much more willing to put up with the drama to see them find their happy ending.
A Lie for a Lie by Helena Hunting
Not gonna lie, this features SO MANY things that I usually hate in romance novels, but Helena Hunting’s excellent writing keeps this from veering off in the wrong direction. It features TWO of my absolute least favorite tropes, but I loved the chemistry, the connection, and the characters as people. It’s a love story in two parts – one sexy and full of passion; one angsty and full of heart. It also kicks off a phenomenal series of standalones, with the followup, A Favor for a Favor, being one of my absolute favorite reads so far in 2020.
Barely Breathing by Erica Marselas
Marselas’ writing is so good, weaving a twisty, angsty, and steamy second chance romance that will keep you guessing. I loved how much tension this has – it keeps the reader in the dark for a while, with plenty of twists and turns as well as a couple you can root for. Featuring a rich girl and the bad boy she had to leave behind, it’s a quick read that you can gobble up in one sitting.
That Forever Girl by Meghan Quinn
Meghan Quinn excels at writing humor, but this series has shown that she also has a skilled hand at writing angst. That Forever Girl is heartbreaking, angsty, and so filled with love that you won’t be able to walk away from this couple until they get their happy ending. This should’ve been too emotional, the hero too unlikable, and the relationship too broken to repair, but instead it just held my interest the whole way through. Mixing flashbacks with present day, we get to see the evolution of this couple’s relationship – both good and bad – telling the whole story and slowly burning to a great conclusion.
Take Two by Heather M. Orgeron
This book doesn’t release until March 19th, but I read my ARC this week and it was a fun, sexy read with plenty of heart. Our couple is a divorced couple who re-marry in a drunken Vegas wedding to make their daughter’s wish of a reunion come true. What follows is the story of a husband who is trying to right all the stupid mistakes he made in the past and put his family back together again. It’s tender and heartwarming, sexy and sweet.
The cover reveal is next week, followed by the release, so there will be plenty more details about this one soon!
The Executive by Winter Renshaw
Half second chance romance, half enemies to lovers, this mixes my favorite and least favorite tropes together into one engrossing read. These two are coworkers who were adversaries, transitioned into enemies(ish) with benefits, then somehow found themselves in love. It’s got angst, tension, steam, and a foundation of love that ties it all together. Renshaw’s work keeps getting better with every book, playing on your emotions and keeping those pages turning.
One Night Stand-In by Lauren Blakely
Blakely knows how to deliver light, banter-filled reads with tons of chemistry. The majority of this book is so fun, with great dialogue and a connection that’s apparent from the start. These two former friends stumbled when they tried to make the leap to lovers the first time around, but they’ve got 24 hours to find their second chance. I loved that it wasn’t angsty, instead choosing to focus on all the reasons this couple belongs together. Forced proximity makes the tight timeline work, and the fun they have along the way is just the cherry on top.
Playing to Win by Stacey Lynn
Light, quick, and sexy, this was actually a really sweet read. It’s got minimal angst, characters you can root for, and a connection that’s obvious. When a hockey player is injury, he reconnects with the girl that got away, and it’s not long before they remember all the reasons their relationship had so much potential. The start of a brand new series of sports romances, I loved what a feel good read this is – and how promising the rest of the series looks to be.
Never Again by Julia Wolf
Truth? I HATED the hero at the start of this book. The second half of an angsty, sexy duet, this rock star romance features one bad, bad boy who had some growing up to do before he could find a lasting love. Wolf’s writing is outstanding, drawing me back into a romance I had almost completely disconnected from after the rollercoaster of a first half. And, no, it wasn’t the quality of the book that had me disconnecting – it was the irredeemability of the hero, who I thought could never win me back over. I was so very wrong on that – this emotional romance shows that all the heartache was worth it, making the ending feel that much sweeter.
Trouble by Adriana Locke
When Adriana Locke is the author, incredible banter and chemistry is a given. So what’s my favorite part of this second chance romance besides that playfulness? The fact that our hero has no idea he’s on his second chance. Our couple shared a one night stand years ago, but the hero has no idea, so the shameless playboy is relentless in his pursuit to get the heroine into bed. The push/pull works in a big way, with tension that straddles the line between light and angsty, and chemistry that is off the charts. The hero also undergoes a fantastic transformation throughout the course of the book, culminating in a romance that’s heartwarmingly good.
The Guy in the Middle by Kate Stewart
Do you like your second chance romances to rip your heart out before it’s put back together? Then this is the one for you. It’s ANGSTY, really well written, and engrossing with a relationship that’s challenging but worth the struggle. This couple met in college, fell in love, were torn apart, then reconnect after time apart. It walked a fine line of being too angsty for me, but I couldn’t stop reading, turning the pages even through the hard times.