Review: Second Chances anthology
by Chace Verity, Dee Holloway, Leigh Landry, Candace Harper
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Second chances--are they always deserved? This collection of contemporary romance stories explores the different ways women can be messy and still find a happy ending.
Just like it says on the tin, this is an anthology of four wlw second chances romances! I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that while I own books by three out of the four authors, I’ve only ever read one – the absolutely fluffy and hilarious Deal with the Demon by Chace Verity. I feel like this was a great introduction to all of them and definitely had me shuffling things around on my TBR!
“So far we’ve got a dead guy and a dog in your truck this morning,” Casey said. “Anything else you want to disclose?”
A dead guy, a dog, and Susan’s ex in her truck. But that didn’t seem worth pointing out at the moment.”
“Out for Delivery” – Leigh Landry. ★★★
Content warnings: View Spoiler »murder (including discovery of a dead body on-page), sexual harassment (off-page, discussed), illegal gambling « Hide Spoiler
Susan knows it’s going to be a bad day at her job delivering packages when her first delivery is to her ex Casey’s house. And then she finds her boss’s dead body in the back of her truck. The premise is completely bonkers. Casey insists Susan try to figure out who killed her boss before going to the police, so they ride around together doing deliveries with a dead body in the back of the truck while simultaneously trying to do amateur detective work. Despite the fact that Susan doesn’t completely trust Casey (for good reason), she goes along with it. Despite the bonkers-ness, it’s obvious that Casey cares deeply about Susan and regrets her past actions. The ending of the story was especially sweet, but the whole murder plot didn’t quite work for me. I loved the dog, though!
“There was no note of allure in her voice when she said again, “This is nice stuff, Trace. Let’s just—let’s do business.”
Business, right then, was the last thing Trace wanted to do.”
“Your Mess Is Mine” – Dee Holloway. ★★★★
Content warnings: View Spoiler »cheating (secondary characters) « Hide Spoiler
Trace has a dual business – she sells off her clients’ ex’s possessions, and sometimes even comforts them in a more physical manner. But when her ex Tansy contacts her out of the blue during a messy divorce, Trace has to decide whether the possible paycheck is worth reopening old wounds.
There was a lot I liked about this story. Trace’s business idea was absolutely brilliant, and I loved how butch she was – at one point, she’s chopping wood in her backyard when Tansy shows up unexpectedly. Trace knows what she wants in life. Tansy, however, didn’t, and that’s what ultimately caused the breakdown in their relationship. For a long time she was willing to be led along by someone else, be someone she wasn’t – literally relegated to a guest room in her own house.
My main issue with this is that it felt like it ended too abruptly and left too much unfinished. There was a whole subplot with Tansy’s brother, Colt (who was also Trace’s best friend) that wasn’t resolved. I think this is perhaps more of a 3.5 stars for me, but I’d definitely read this as a full-length novel, just saying.
“Things hadn’t worked with Justine or any other girl in the past because they weren’t Dahlia. She only wanted to commit (fake) crimes with Dahlia.
She wanted to do more with Dahlia.”
“The (Virtual) Body Guard” – Chace Verity. ★★★★★
Content warnings: View Spoiler »depression, anxiety, self-harm (in the past), car accident (in the past), estranged parents (not on page), video game mob violence, transphobia, ableism, MC experiencing housing insecurity and job loss « Hide Spoiler
Tala started playing a Mafia-themed game during rehab after a car accident that left her in a wheelchair. Now, years later, she can hardly imagine a day where she doesn’t spend time as a bodyguard to her online best friend, Dallas. But when she misses a raid due to a last minute Valentine’s date, Dallas suddenly ghosts her. Tala’s grieving the loss of the friendship when she meets a gorgeous woman at the library she works at, catches a glimpse of her screen, and realizes she’s Dallas. Dallas – Dahlia – is even more wonderful IRL, but how can Tala tell her who she is without ruining this new friendship?
I absolutely loved these two. Tala favors a butch aesthetic, and she exercises religiously, while Dahlia’s a trans lesbian. Dahlia has very good reasons for being so hurt by Tala’s actions, even if it was “only a video game,” and despite those reasons, this is really a comforting and sweet story. I loved how Dahlia would walk Tala to work every day, along with all the other bits and pieces of their “new” friendship. Definitely my favorite of the collection!
“The Best Places” – Candace Harper. ★★★★
Content warnings: View Spoiler »side characters die in car accident (off-page), MC’s husband died of heart attack (off-page, many years ago), grief, animal neglect, ace phobia (mentioned) « Hide Spoiler
After the death of her husband fifteen years ago, Rebecca left her judgmental in-laws and the small town they lived in behind for good. When she receives a letter on Christmas Eve that she’s the executor of her in-laws’ estate, she’s torn, but decides to go along with her daughter Emma. She’s surprised to find the lawyer is her roommate from college, Rosalyn. They were best friends once, but that fractured when Rebecca married Rosalyn’s cousin, Bill, and Rosalyn didn’t support her against her in-laws, who saw her as nothing but a gold-digger.
This was just so unbelievably sweet, and it is the absolute epitome of the “missed chances” version of the second chance trope. It really felt like Rebecca and Rosalyn had a history and it was wonderful to watch them reconnect. I also liked Rebecca’s relationship with Emma. She felt like a real teen, and I liked how her perspective on her (previously unknown) grandparents and “their” town was included. I also liked the rep. Rosalyn’s asexual and panromantic, Rebecca is pan as well, and her daughter is bi.
Overall, this was a great collection, and I’m hoping for more just like it, whether it’s more second chance stories or whether the authors decide to explore a different trope.