I received an email to sign-up to read an ARC of L.B. Dunbar’s book, Second Chance. Prior to the email, I had never read anything by Dunbar. I became intrigued by the ages of the main H/h of this book. I’ve read so many books in the past year (something like 457…), and I have never read a romance with two older (not in their 20s) characters. I thought they are my age. What would a “second chance” romance at my age look like? So…I went for it. For the most part, I enjoyed this read. I could commiserate with the changes in bodies and the struggles of re-discovering each other after almost two decades apart. I loved many aspects of this book, but I also struggled with the main male character, Denton. Let’s talk about the good first:
- Mati. I love Mati. She has endured being left behind by a former friend, finding out she was pregnant at 18 with twin boys, giving up several dreams to find different dreams, and encountering the death of a spouse unexpectedly. She is also the only female in her family with lots of testosterone focused on her in the form of her brothers and sons, yet she holds her own. She is a power-woman. Her sons are older, one is married and one is struggling to figure out his life. Yet, she loves them both through their differences and challenges. She coaches the local high school volleyball team, and she’s successful. She is trying to find a new big dream for herself: coaching college volleyball. And she is trying to move past her grief and find her new “normal.” I admired her tremendously in this story. Quite frankly, if she laid down in her bed, pulled the covers over her head, I would deem it justified. However, she encounters every challenge in her life and with Denton with grace and resiliency even when she wants to give up. She held my heart in this story.
- I really liked the older age storyline. I think it’s different, and it shows that anyone over the age of 40 can still get “it on” AND they can still follow their dreams. Mati’s character is the best representation of continuing to challenge one’s self no matter one’s age in contrast to Denton’s sister, who has allowed her life to stagnate. Thankfully, after Denton’s return home, his sister can follow her heart and find a new life for herself, regardless of her age. A lesson for all of us in the over 40 set.
- The story, in general, is strong. This a second-chance romance story, so it is a common romantic trope. It isn’t really doing anything new here, other than putting it in the lives of older characters. However, it works. There are quite a few moving parts to it that can border on confusing. The chronology moves between past and present, but Dunbar does a good job of keeping it clear for the reader. All in all, the story is interesting.
Now, to what I didn’t care for…
- Denton. It took me most of the book to like this guy. He seemed self-absorbed and clueless. There are plenty of male characters I’ve read who are abhorrent characters. As I read dark romance, this isn’t unusual. However, Denton is disguised as a potential good guy who makes life all about him. For most of the book. Thankfully, Mati is the type of character to help Denton see the truth. Add the women in his family to the mix, and he finds out what he truly wants from this time in his life. Unfortunately, this epiphany comes late in the story, so you have to be patient for his change.
- Mati’s son, Jax. He was a bully to his mom, as far as I could read. Yes, he’s fiery like her. Yet, he takes his ire towards Denton a bit too far for someone old enough to know better. I thought Mati should have “put him over her knee” in the story. Thankfully, like Denton, Jax matures by the story’s end, so he redeemed himself.
I love that L.B. Dunbar writes stories about people my age. I sometimes love to read romance where I find or see myself in the characters. I think she provides enough sexiness, angst, and love to draw you into the story and find the power in a second chance at love.
In love and romance,