Give me a fake relationship, an office romance, or enemies to lovers intensity any day of the week – I’m there! But a second chance romance? You’re gonna have to win me over. It’s the trope that I’m always the most hesitant to read, because they need to have the perfect combination of elements to be successful.
When they’re done right, second chance romances can be INCREDIBLE, emotional reads. Whether it’s a marriage in trouble, a one night stand turned more, or a high school sweetheart coming back into the picture, there are so many different types of second chance romances. I use the term loosely in this list, because – to me – a second chance romance is any relationship that fumbled on the first attempt, or starts with some troublesome history of the sexual variety. That emotional baggage is the catalyst for everything that comes afterwords, be it sexual tension, heartache, or angst. That potential for greatness is what keeps me coming back for more, even when so many second chance romance novels have let me down in the past.
If a book has made this list, then it was so good that it overcame my distaste for the trope. Most are not the “traditional” second chance romance, but they all feature couples who have a history they need to move past. Each contemporary romance novel on this list has received a 4 or 5 star rating from me, and links to my reviews are included for most. I’ve also got the blurb, a description of the vibe, and links to Amazon for easy addition to your Kindle. Happy reading!
Second chance setup: Marriage in trouble, bodyguard/client
The vibe: Emotional, suspenseful, slow burn
Out of the Blue by Kathryn Nolan
There was no way I could protect her and my heart at the same time.
Cope McDaniels is known for two things: His cocky charm and his sterling reputation for keeping high-profile clients safe. Until a security job goes bad, and he suddenly finds his career on thin ice. Cope’s newest assignment comes with serious consequences – he’ll keep his job as long as he makes no mistakes.
Cope isn’t worried…until his new client turns out to be a beautiful blast from his past.
Big wave surfer Serena Swift loves the adrenaline of her sport. And the elite athlete hates being told what to do. That goes double when the orders are coming from the sexy bodyguard-in-a-suit who broke her heart.
But she doesn’t have a choice when a mysterious threat materializes and Serena’s sponsor saddles her with the last man she’d want guarding her body. She’d rather focus on her next surf competition, not on some shadowy danger or the arrogant ex who dared to get even hotter since their breakup.
Cope can’t stop butting heads with his new client. Just like old times, Serena refuses to play it safe, even when it’s clear she’s in peril. Now the intimacy of spending every second of the day by her side is wearing away at his self-control. He can’t afford to lose focus, but everything about the woman is a constant distraction.
Including the fact that their divorce was never finalized…
Author’s Note: One-click this scorching-hot bodyguard romance if you’re a fan of second-chance angst, sizzling sexual tension, thrilling action and mysterious danger set on the warm, sunny beaches of San Diego.
Second chance setup: Former f-buddies turned co-workers-ish
The vibe: Intense, emotional, hot slow burn
Hard to Handle by K. Bromberg
New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg is back with an all new second-chance, standalone hockey romance.
At first, the request seemed simple—sign a new athlete to the agency.
Then I found out the new athlete was none other than the most wanted man in hockey today: Hunter Maddox
Gifted. Sexy. At the top of his game. And the only man who has ever broken my heart.
If signing him will help save our family business, I’ll swallow my pride and do what’s asked.
But when it becomes clear his uncharacteristic antics off the ice are a hint of something deeper, keeping things strictly professional between us becomes more than complicated. But I know better than to cross that line.
I’ll never date a client. Not even for him.
Win the Stanley Cup and do it before time runs out.
Not a small feat, but it’s what’s motivated me since the start of my career.
And time is running out.
Enter Dekker Kincade.
Feisty. Dogged. Damn gorgeous. The one I let get away.
I have no idea why she’s traveling with the team, but hell if resisting her is going to be easy.
But I have a job to do, and I refuse to lose sight of that end game. Even if she confuses me. Even if she sees parts of me I’ve hidden from the world.
I can’t lose focus. Not even for her.
Jeeves’ Top 19 of 2019 Selection
Second chance setup: Banged the wrong brother turned enemies? lol!
The vibe: Super intense, hot slow burn, a little dark
Devious Lies by Parker S. Huntington
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes an enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance full of revenge and a dash of fate.
“She could enjoy her pretty, perfect world a little longer. Soon enough, everything she owned would be mine.”
I had a plan to escape the friend zone.
Step one: sneak into Reed’s room.
Step two: sleep with him.
But when the lights turned on, it wasn’t familiar blue eyes I saw.
These were dark, angry, and full of demons.
And they belonged to Reed’s much older brother.
Four years later, Nash Prescott is no longer the help’s angry son.
I’m no longer the town’s prized princess.
At twenty-two, I’m broke, in need of a job.
At thirty-two, he’s a billionaire, in need of revenge.
Who cares if my family ruined his?
Who cares if he looks at me with pure loathing?
Who cares if every task he assigns me is designed to torture?
I need the money.
Simple as that.
I’ll suffer his cruelty in silence, knowing there’s one thing he wants more than revenge…
Note: Devious Lies is a standalone billionaire office romance. If you love banter and angst, this book is for you! Welcome to Eastridge. Enter if you dare.
Second chance setup: Former f-buddies who have grown and matured
The vibe: Emotional, light moments, heartfelt
Replay by Amy Daws
Not all players deserve a second chance… no matter how hot their first chance was.
Football club lawyer, Santino Rossi is known in the locker room as the two-month chump. For years he’s been on a mission to find someone he can share his basil plant with and cure him of his former playboy ways.
Tilly Logan is a fiery, Scottish lass who didn’t bat an eye five years ago when a smoldering Italian pulled her into a nightclub bathroom. He was dark, dangerous, and exactly the good time Tilly was looking for—even if he worked for her over-protective brother’s team.
But a lot has changed and when Tilly returns to London five years later only to find herself trapped in an elevator with the smoldering Italian, it isn’t a happy reunion. Especially because her brother blames Santino for her high tailing it back to Scotland in the first place.
Tilly doesn’t want a replay of past mistakes and reconnecting with Santino is playing with fire.
But if they keep their relationship a secret, it could be worth the burn.
Second chance setup: Former f-buddies/co-workers/rivals
The vibe: Angsty, intense, sexy
The Executive by Winter Renshaw
Let me first say: Reed York was never my boyfriend. He was the pen. I was the company ink. Though if you want to get technical, we were more like colleagues-who-hated-each-other … with benefits.
Everything was fine until the charming jerk went behind my back, stole my promotion, and became my boss—literally overnight.
Refusing to work beneath him (professionally speaking and otherwise), I transferred 2,014 miles away to our Chicago division, and I’ve spent the past year trying to remember how much I hated his panty-melting smirk so I can forget how much I secretly loved the way his ocean eyes lit every time I walked into the room.
But he’s just announced a last-minute site visit next week, and on top of that, he’s audaciously designated me as his ‘right hand gal’ during his visit. If he thinks he has a snowball’s chance in this hell at getting back in my good graces, he’s got another thing coming.
Reed York might be a man used to getting everything he’s ever wanted, but Joa Jolivet is a woman that never forgets.
One of Jeeves’ 2021 Favorites
Second chance setup: Marriage in trouble
The vibe: Emotional, heartfelt, swoony, slow burn
Ever After Always by Chloe Liese
Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.
I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby.
With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.
I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much.
As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?
Ever After Always is a marriage-in-crisis, opposites-attract romance about a sensitive, fierce-loving woman and her resilient husband who has anxiety disorder. Complete with island vacation antics, a sibling prank gone wrong, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the third in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
Second chance setup: Rock star duet with a bad boy antihero
The vibe: Super angsty, intense, sexy
Never Blue Duet by Julia Wolf
Book One – Never Lasting:
Tali DiPietro is a good girl with a streak of punk rock rebel.
The first time I see Jude on stage, I know I’m going to fall for him, and I’m damn sure it’s going to hurt.
Jude Goldman is a bad boy with a guitar and big dreams.
Tali becomes as important as landing a record deal, and I’ll do anything to have both, no matter how much it hurts.
We’re two ships moored together in a storm of excess, stardom, and broken promises. Forever might be nothing more than stardust and memories.
Book Two – Never Again:
They were a perfect storm of bad decisions and tragedy…
We thought our forever kind of love would protect us.
We thought we were strong enough to withstand any storm.
But we were so young then. We couldn’t have known what was coming.
Older now, we’re both stronger than we’ve ever been. Brought back together by cicumstance, we have a second chance to discover if forever is still the truth or yet another broken promise.
Author’s note: This duet contains mature themes and sensitive topics such as drug use and suicide.
Second chance setup: Former one night stand
The vibe: Light and sexy, swoony
Mourning Wood by Heather M. Orgeron
She’s hard up.
He’s just hard…
After an ill-fated one-night stand, Wyatt Landry was the last person I ever expected to see again.
By design, mind you, as I spent the last two years avoiding him.
He was only ever meant to be a good time—a really good time—and now, thanks to one teensy little mistake, he’s back in my life and wielding an entirely different set of tools.
It’s not like I intentionally hired a bogus contractor to redo our chapel, and Lord knows I never imagined Wyatt would ride up in his pickup truck, like a knight in thigh-hugging blue jeans, to save the day.
But here he is, and to make matters worse, he’s every bit as charming as I remember, and before I can fully process his reappearance in my life, he has my six-year-old daughter wrapped around his finger, my parents eating out of the palm of his hand, and my best friend shipping us like we’re some celebrity couple.
Thankfully, working in the death industry, I’ve mastered the skill of compartmentalization. Keeping my growing feelings tucked away should be a piece of cake. Except, seeing him every day definitely throws a wrench in that plan.
Before I know it, we’re trading favors for dates, and as much I don’t want to admit it, the feelings for him I thought were dead and buried are taking root and growing into something that looks a lot like love.
Daigle Family Funeral Services… don’t be caught dead any place else.
Second chance setup: One night stand that he forgot
The vibe: Light yet emotional, sexual tension, playful
Trouble by Adriana Locke
She wants something real. He wants something now. Together they’re trouble in USA Today bestselling author Adriana Locke’s sexy and funny twice-in-a-lifetime love story.
With his shameless grin and let’s-play swagger, carpenter Penn Etling leaves women wanting in Dogwood Lane. What do they get? Avery Perry knows: a one-night stand. She’s been there. She remembers every hot pulse as if it were yesterday. But Penn? He doesn’t remember a thing. Now he’s making new moves, and Avery’s not falling for trouble…again. Is she?
How could the beautiful stranger resist him? Avery is going to be a challenge for the bad boy. She’s the kind of woman who digs deep—deep enough to see there’s more to Penn than meets the eye. But first she has to give him a chance. She has to say yes. Could she also be the woman to make him change his playboy ways?
When these two come together, it’s hard to pull them apart. But with love and trust on the line, can Avery and Penn get what they both want? This time for keeps?
Second chance setup: Marriage in trouble
The vibe: Light and sexy sports romance
Steele by Sawyer Bennett
A second chance may be just what James Steele needs…
I might be one of the older players on the Arizona Vengeance, but I like to think that also makes me one of the wisest. Or at least I used to.
Turns out, I’ve been a bit selfish. I’ve been married to hockey and my team for years, which hasn’t left much time for my actual wife, Ella. Now I’m juggling a separation I never wanted, the pressure of being a single dad to our teenage daughter, and the career I sacrificed it all for.
While my game on the ice might be on fire, the game in my personal life is clearly lacking, as evidenced by the fact I just saw my wife on a date with another man. If I have any hope of saving the family I love, I need to re-prioritize, and fast. So it’s time for me to get back to fundamentals, just like I did when I learned how to play hockey. I’ve never backed down from a challenge, and romancing my wife is a challenge I am very much looking forward to.
Time to put on my game face, because I’m in it to win it.
Second chance setup: Best friend’s brother turned enemy (and new husband)
The vibe: Super angsty, intense, slow burn – triggering
Her Reluctant Husband by Erica Marselas
I would do anything for my family, including marrying a man who hates me.
Not like I had a choice when the person who helped raise me tells me who I must marry in order to save my home.
When I came face to face with Alex Wilks again, the man who despises me and wishes I never stepped foot back into Kinder Falls after the day I left, I didn’t know what I was in for.
Alex was the boy I once idolized, but later, he became the man that broke my trust.
Both of us are reluctant to dig into the lies and secrets surrounding the night that broke us apart.
Because it might end up being the truth that destroys us.
We just have to survive one year.
The only thing is, we both have so much to lose.
But maybe everything to gain.
Her Reluctant Husband is a full-length emotional and steamy rollercoaster standalone romance.
***Please Note: This story deals with sensitive subjects of sexual and physical abuse that might be hard for some readers. ****
Second chance setup: One night stand gone wrong
The vibe: Laugh out loud rom com
I Pucking Love You by Pippa Grant
You know those stories where an adorably misunderstood clumsy girl needs a fake date to a wedding so she asks her brother’s best friend and they accidentally fall in love?
I wish that was the kind of life I lead, but it’s not.
I don’t need a date to a wedding. I need a date to a funeral.
Clumsy sometimes fits, but then, that’s true for all of us, right? But adorable? No. Misunderstood? Nope again. I’m just your average girl, standing in front of a funeral invitation, asking it to be a winning lottery ticket instead.
And I don’t have a brother, or a best friend with a brother available, which means I’m stuck with Tyler Jaeger.
Sure, he’s a professional hockey player who also knows advanced calculus, but let’s say we’re not compatible and leave it at that. I should know. I am a matchmaker.
Not a very good one, but that’s beside the point.
I know a mismatch when I see one.
Still, Tyler’s what I’ve got, and I am not going to this funeral solo, so he’s what I’ll take.
After all—what could go wrong at a funeral?
I Pucking Love You is a hilariously wrong romantic comedy about the world’s worst matchmaker, a hockey player with a problem he doesn’t want to talk about, and an awkward date-of-convenience that everyone would prefer to forget. It comes complete with a cat working his way through his nine lives, all the sexy times, fish and chips, and a swoony happily-ever-after.
Second chance setup: Texting buddies turned enemies-ish
The vibe: Angsty rom com
Text Me Baby One More Time by Teagan Hunter
From the author of the hit romcom Let’s Get Textual comes a hilarious, entertaining, standalone second-chance romance that’s sure to make you laugh and swoon…and root for the jerk.
I love you, he said.
Forever, he said.
Turns out, he lied.
When he leaves me high and dry after a cross-country move, I push him out of my life as much as I can, which is hard to do when the guy who broke your heart also happens to be the most famous dude in town.
After a disastrous year, he’s aiming to rehab his reputation, and I just so happen to be aiming for a promotion at the paper.
So, we strike a deal, and it’s a win-win all around.
Besides, what’s the harm in a few dates to charity galas anyway?
He’s arrogant, a total jerk. There’s no way I’ll fall for him…again.
I used to love him. Now I hate him…I think.
Second chance setup: Forbidden romance when younger
The vibe: Office romance, light but emotional
Back for More by Kayley Loring
When I was a kid, my dad was the gardener for the richest man in town. His daughter, Lily Barnes, told me she could never like a guy like me. Then she kissed me and told me it would never happen again. When it happened again, she told me she could never love me because she was going to leave this place, and I would never leave my dad.
We were never quite friends, not exactly enemies, and we could never quite stop secretly kissing each other.
She never said goodbye before running off to try to make it as an actress. That was her dream, and I wanted her to chase it. Okay, maybe I hated her for it, just a little.
Now she’s back, with no money and even more sass.
A lot has changed around here … except for my hidden feelings about Lily Barnes.
So, it turns out I’m a terrible actress and now I’m back!
When my father offers me a job at his company, I actually think he’s finally decided I’m worthy of one day taking over the family business. Imagine my surprise when I find out that the gardener’s son is the one who’s being groomed to take over, and I’ve been assigned to work for him.
Wes Carver has always been rich in confidence and abs, but now he’s rich in everything, including disdain for yours truly.
If he thinks I’m not built to work, he’s wrong.
If he thinks he can boss me around just because he’s my boss, he’s delusional.
If he thinks I’m still the girl who could never love him … I may be a better actress than anyone thought.
Second chance setup: Former high school sweethearts
The vibe: Super angsty, intense, slow burn
That Forever Girl by Meghan Quinn
USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn’s second book in the Getting Lucky series brings heart, humor, and heat back to Port Snow.
There are two little words every small-town man dreads:
Harper Sanders, the girl who was supposed to be my forever, has returned to Port Snow, Maine, for good—and she’s bringing back memories of our shared past.
We once had a bright future together, but when tragedy struck, I threw it all away and pushed her out of my life. People in our small town think I’m cursed, but I know better. I did it all to myself.
And now she’s creating a life of her own in the place where we first fell in love. I can’t fight my feelings for her—or the strong attraction that keeps pulling us together. But after all this time, can she forgive the past and fall in love with me all over again?
Everyone hopes to find that forever girl…I just hope I haven’t lost mine for good.
Want more romance recommendations? Check out my list of lists here.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases