Hello friends! I’m excited to be back with a new addition to my series – that, as per usual, has no official name, because of course – in which I recommend novels based on some of my favorite tropes.
If I’m being honest, second chance romance is not a trope I actively seek out, but I’ve recently realized that I have read and loved quite a few novels with this trope, all of which are worth recommending. So, here were are today. Without further ado, let’s jump onto my recommendations.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy–so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.
When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.
💜 Technically, this is part of the Reluctant Royals series, but it can be read as a standalone novella, and I think it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what the rest of the series is like.
💜 This is so soft and wholesome! If you want to read something comforting, I highly recommend it.
💜 I love the idea of Likotsi trying to get over her ex by revisiting all the places that meant something to them as a couple. When she runs into Fabiola this journey starts to resemble a long montage, as we alternate between reading about their past as a couple while also seeing what kind of feelings these places invoke in them in the present.
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Summer love… gone so fast.
Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.
💜 Only Mostly Devastated is one of my favorite novels of 2020, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s sweet and lovely for the most part, but be mindful of the fact that it also contains homophobia and biphobia, as well as a character suffering from cancer.
💜 Being a Grease re-imagining, the novel uses and modernizes certain aspects of the musical, and does a wonderful job of this. Don’t be afraid to pick up the book just because you hate or haven’t watched Grease! Yes, you may not understand all the references, but they are built into the novel in a way that they make sense even without their connection to Grease.
💜 One of my favorite parts of the novel is Ollie’s relationship with his family. They all have so much love for each other and are so supportive; the most heartfelt, heart-wrenching moments of the novel are thanks to them.
Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again.
If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.
Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.
Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…
💜 Even though Don’t You Forget About Me was marketed as a cutesy rom-com, it deals with sexual assault, and the description and aftermath/effects of it are explicitly described, so be careful, friends!
💜 That being said, the novel does have some pretty adorable parts. Lucas and Georgina fit together rather perfectly, and I couldn’t help but root for them from the get go.
💜 Georgina’s character arc was heartbreaking, but well-developed. We see how her life has been influenced by what was done to her as a teen, and we see how she tries to deal with her trauma throughout the novel.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay
The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
💜 The Bromance Book Club is a hilariously over-the-top novel that made me laugh out loud over and over again. Seriously, if you’re looking for an entertaining rom-com, look no further.
💜 I tend to dislike children in novels – and in general, to be honest – but I adored Thea and Gavin’s kids, and I loved how the author paid attention to include them in every part of the novel. Thea and Gavin cared deeply about how their marriage/divorce affected their children, which is something I found realistic and lovely.
💜 I know that some people found Thea too cold, but I really appreciated her character arc. She was deeply hurt by Gavin as well as by the tumultuous relationship her own parents had; it made sense for her to be extremely careful and too scared to give Gavin another chance.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.
💜 Girls Made of Stars is one of the most difficult novels I’ve ever read. Mara, a sexual assault survivor, is forced to deal with the idea that her own twin, her other half, could rape someone.
💜 At its core, Girls Made of Stars is the story of two survivors, and how they handle their trauma. It’s also a story of friendship that focuses on girls supporting girls.
💜 At the same time, it is a second chance romance between Mara and Charlie, who went from best friends to girlfriends and then broke up. They have a lot to discuss and deal with, and we see this process throughout the novel, too.
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.
Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.
But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.
💜 While You Deserve Each Other is a fun rom-com, it is incredibly stressful to read at certain parts, because the battle between Naomi and Nicholas gets pretty serious.
💜 That said, I found myself utterly entertained by this novel. It’s a fun, sometimes overly dramatic and unrealistic rom-com that will have you laughing out loud.
💜 Some people had a problem with Naomi taking things too far… while I was mostly angry at Nicholas. It was his family that was bullying Naomi, plus he clearly had the upper hand in their relationship in certain ways. That said, they both developed as individuals and as partners by the end.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules.
– Nude pics are by invitation only
– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice
– Protect your heart
Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.
Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…
💜 The novel deals with some heavy subjects – sexual assault and domestic verbal abuse – and, as for Samson’s part, it focuses heavily on CTE, a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head.
💜 Rhi is a cold-hearted, successful businesswoman while Samson is soft as butter pro-football player. In other words, the dynamic between the two is perfect.
💜 I loved Samson’s aunt so damn much! Some people underestimated her because she is a very extra, over-the-top person, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t smart.
Do you enjoy second chance romance? Why/Why not? What are your favorite examples for this trope? Do we have any in common?