By the Tropes: Second Chances

Why are second chance love stories so compelling? Is it because so many of us remember the one who got away? Maybe it’s the redemption arc—putting things right once and for all. Or, perhaps it’s that sometimes we know, even when they don’t, when two people really should be together. Watching that realization dawn, whether there is a shared history of hurt and heartache to overcome, or each character has their own past to contend with, can lead us to some of the most hard-won and best-earned HEAs ever.

I wasn’t so much a fan of second chance romances before I started writing them. I’d consider the stories and think, well, if it didn’t work out the first time, what hope does it have the second? I’ve always considered writing something of a puzzle, though, a task where I connect the dots between two people. So, the answer to that question varies. What really drives second chance romances are the circumstances.

In Let’s Connect, I explore the spark that nearly was. A year on from his divorce, Dan has decided he’s ready to start dating again. Or, more accurately, his best friend, Trevor, has decided that he’s ready. After signing up for the dating app Let’s Connect, however, Dan’s not so sure—especially when every new connection reminds him of how badly he failed the first time around and what he might have missed out on. Let’s Connect combines two themes I often include in my romances—taking another chance with love, and recognizing what’s already there.

When Was the Last Time is all about recognizing what’s already there—and remembering not to take it for granted. One day, over breakfast, Evan gently points out that it’s been a year since he and Paul made love. They’ve been intimate, but it’s been a very long time since they spent an evening devoted to loving one fully and completely. About to leave for yet another business trip, Paul takes this revelation to heart and vows to do better. As soon as he lands on the other side of the country, however, a familiar pattern of events unfolds, threatening to ruin his plans. The difference, this time, is that he recognizes what’s happening. Especially when he begins asking himself “When was the last time…”

I adore this story because it’s clear from the beginning how much these two love each other—and yet love alone isn’t always enough. Not when the day-to-day gets in the way of intimacy. All of my stories have a happy ending, though, and this one is no different.

Chaos Station (and the series) and Renewing Forever are not only friends to lovers stories, they’re second chance romances as well. In both instances, the chance to try again is an unexpected gift. Both sets of characters were all but permanently estranged until events conspired to bring them back together. These stories are about remembering first love and working not so much to recapture that but to start a new relationship based on who they are now.

A second chance at love doesn’t always have to be with someone the character already knows, however. The tag line for my This Time Forever series reads ‘Small towns, second chances.’ The majority of the characters in these books have had what they thought was their one great love and then lost it. None of them believe they’ll love again in quite the same way—and they won’t. That’s the beauty of a second chance romance, even when the story reunites old lovers. You can’t love someone the same way twice. And you can’t love two people in the same way.

With a large number of my books featuring older characters, you could say I’m all about second chances—which is odd, seeing as it’s a trope I so often eschew as a reader. I think the difference is probably the level of angst involved. Even when I’m covering tough subjects and writing characters with deep scars, I strive to keep my stories as light and balanced as possible. Real—I want my books to feel like they’re part of the fabric of reality—but always with a happy ending. Because a second chance should be worth it, don’t you think?

Previous posts in this series:
Friends to Lovers

Published by Kelly Jensen

Writer of love stories. Bibliophile. Gamer. Hiker. Cat herder. Waiting for the aliens. 👽 🏳️‍🌈

6 thoughts on “By the Tropes: Second Chances

  1. Second Chance and Friends to Lovers are two of my favorite tropes. They’re especially satisfying when they’re as well-written as Kelly’s.

    Perhaps they reflect our own feelings about what might have been, and give us a vicarious sense of closure.

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