Thank you to St Martin’s Press for the review copy via NetGalley!
I’ve been on a bit of a cutesy book binge lately. From Sophie Kinsella to Josie Silver to Sally Thorne, I’ve been devouring rom-com books by the pound. When I saw the summary for this book on NetGalley, it was a no-brainer to me. It sounded right up my alley, a story of two exes finding each other a decade later with some fun complications. It’s a pretty by the books, told by many different novels, premise. Unfortunately, this book really did not come anywhere close to meeting my expectations.
Second Chance follows Ella, a successful matchmaker and former wannabe actress who does local theater gigs on the side. When her ex, Hank (who made it big in the acting business), shows up to film a movie in her city, she’s forced to confront her lingering feelings for him after a decade of separation.
My biggest issue with this book is the writing. To me, this book read like an early draft. It’s rough and unrefined: the plot was inconsistent and scattered, the characters had no real definition, and there were way too many cringe-worthy unrealistic moments in the book. Circling back to the plot: it was all over the damn place – one minute the focus is on the relationship between Ella and Hank, the next it’s on talking about her grandmothers affair (which doesn’t add anything to the book) and then the focus shifts to the insane con job that is Two Love Lane (we’ll get back to this later). It was almost like the author wrote down some event and drew them out of a hat, there was no rhyme or reason. Also, the exposition was about as subtle as a brick through a window. For example, there was one passage where Ella’s friend explained Ella’s past to her (and rubbed in how she had turned down her big break while, in a moment where she was supposedly comforting Ella).
Let’s talk about Two Love Lane (the matchmaking company). While I don’t believe in matchmakers, power to someone with the disposable income to spend on the old fashioned version of having your friends set up a Tinder profile for you. Also, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I adore books that focus on a career driven woman. However, I cannot get behind a book that focuses on such a nonsensical and borderline con artist den like Two Love Lane. One of the subplots follows a woman who is using the services of Two Love Lane and believes she’s cursed. Instead of gently steering her towards her happily ever after, she gets treated poorly and is told she has to make thousands of baked goods to cure her curse.
The characters of this book range from weird to boring. I don’t think I could pick one character out of this all that I really enjoyed. It was clear, however, that the author likes Samantha Drake better than any of her other characters – she’s given an oddly large amount of focus in this book (people are constantly comparing her to Meryl Streep and talking about how many Oscars she’s won). At first she angled to be Ella’s competition in the game for Hank’s attention, but all of a sudden the book switched directions and she became Hank’s confident and co-conspirator (she agreed to help manipulate Ella into getting back with Hank). As for the two leads of this story, I really don’t have much to say about them. They were one dimensional walking stereotypes and lacked chemistry. I wasn’t rooting for them to get back together, I was mostly rooting for Ella to get away from her crazy family.
Nothing about this book worked for me. The characters were bland and flat, the plot was scattered at best, and the exposition was blatant (and very tell not show). Maybe with a few more rounds of revisions by new eyes this book could be a fun read, but given the way the book is now, I won’t be recommending anyone take a trip to Two Love Lane.