A chance at true love doesn’t come around every day and getting another shot is about as rare as a unicorn. That’s what makes second-chance love stories so alluring. This month, three books in which true love comes after a second take.
Lady Dorothea Beaumont, the heroine of Lenora Bell’s If I Only Had a Duke (Avon), was destined for love at the start of Bell’s debut, “How the Duke Was Won.” Things didn’t work out well for Thea then, but readers have benefitted from her poor luck. After being jilted, Thea is looking for anything but love, particularly when freedom to follow another passion — to set up residence in Ireland and research female painters — is so close. To do that, however, Thea requires an escort. Enter the handsome, dangerous Duke of Osborne, who just happens to be on his way to Ireland to exact revenge on the man who ruined his family. He agrees to protect Thea on the way to the Emerald Isle, despite his better judgment. What ensues is a delightfully clever, deceptively powerful romance between two characters who deserve love in all the best ways.
Those readers looking for a more traditional take on the second-chance romance will adore Sarina Bowen’s Rookie Move (Berkley), the first in her new Brooklyn Bruisers series. When rookie hockey forward Leo Trevi is hired by the brand-new NHL team, he does not expect to find his childhood sweetheart running the team’s press office. Georgia Worthington and Leo fell in love when they were teenagers and parted ways after Georgia suffered a traumatic attack. Now, years later, the two are thrust back together, forced to prove to the world the value of the untested hockey team. They are undeniably drawn to each other, however, and soon vowing to overcome their past. As their lost love is reignited, Bowen gives us a deeply emotional, incredibly sexy look at two flawed, honest people who are willing to sacrifice anything for another chance at love.
While romance comics were once a large segment of the comic market, they are now all too rare. But that’s changing with the arrival of Fresh Romance (Oni Press), the crowdfunded digital romance comic, which this month has been published in a print anthology. There is something for every romance reader here, including: “The Ruby Equation,” written by Sarah Kuhn and illustrated by Sally Jane Thompson, in which an otherworldly matchmaker with disdain for love falls in love herself; the first volume of Sarah Vaughn and Sarah Winifred Searle’s “Ruined,” an Austenesque Regency comic about lost love and the possibility of new romance; and Marguerite Bennett and Trungles’s “Beauties,” a lovely reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast myth. But it is the final, four-page “First, Last and Always,” from Kieron Gillen and Christine Norrie that is the gem of the collection. This short tale of a young woman who, when she experiences a first kiss, also experiences the last kiss in the relationship is electrifyingly romantic. It captures vividly the heroine’s fear of beginning what will likely immediately end, all while she longs for a second chance at a fleeting love. Gillen and Norrie’s remarkable skill showcases the unique ability of comics to tell a love story — visually, emotionally and with a powerful punch.
MacLean views romance monthly for The Washington Post and is the author of the forthcoming “A Scot in the Dark.”