Title: Second Chances
Author: Rita Oberlies
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
May Contain Spoilers
Will the past keep them apart…
High-powered attorney Luke Braden knows that perfection only comes once in a lifetime, and for him it came and went in the form of his college girlfriend, Brenna Morgan. Circumstances beyond his control separated them before, but now that she’s back in Boston, Luke won’t let her slip away again.
…or give them a second chance at love?
For Brenna Morgan, returning home is the very last thing she wants, especially when it means facing the man who once became her salvation—and then dumped her at the first sign of trouble. But Luke is determined to make up for his past mistakes, and Brenna finds herself weakening against him. A decade of deceit lies between them, and he’ll have to fight if he wants to keep his second chance at love.
This is actually a story that needed more pages for me to be won over by the tragically flawed heroine. The jumps in time and attitude near the end left me confused or wishing for more details as Brenna, coming to grips with all of the baggage she has lugged around since she was thirteen, attempts to cope with the guilt that overwhelms her. The guilt has shaped her adult life, destroyed her relationship with her estranged father, and twisted her responsibilities for her younger brother. I found Brenna an interesting character because she was such a mess, but I didn’t feel that her struggle to finally accept that she needed help and that she needed to learn to trust again, was adequately explored. Instead, it was glossed over, which made her attempts to repair all of the damaged relationships in her life seem unconvincing.
Brenna fled from Boston six years ago, after her father’s mug shot was splashed on the front of every newspaper in town, chronicling his latest indiscretion. When Luke, her wealthy boyfriend, was caught on the arm of another girl, Brenna had had enough. No longer able to trust Luke, she packed her meager belongings and moved to Florida without giving him the opportunity to explain. It’s only when her grandmother, who is suffering from dementia, requires more care than Brenna can provide, that she finds herself back in Boston, temporarily living with her great-aunt Tess. Now with a dwindling bank account, she needs to find a job so she can provide for herself and her grandmother.
I loved the set up. Luke has never gotten over Brenna, and he sees her reappearance in Boston as a second chance to win her back. Hurt that she thought so poorly of him six years ago, he has come to realize that he wasn’t blameless in their breakup. He didn’t make a great enough effort to explain, and when he finally did get over his anger and hurt, she shut him down when he did try to tell his side of the story. While Luke was a bit too stalkerish for my liking, he was a really nice guy, and that’s what Brenna needed, even if she didn’t recognize it. She needed nice. She needed supportive. She needed the patience of a saint to help her work though some of her hang-ups over relationships and trust and love. Being Mr Fix It, that’s all Luke wanted to do. He wanted to shelter and protect her, but every instinct told Brenna to run before she was let down again.
Brenna is hard to warm up to, and she tries to be so independent that it is grating at times. She isn’t interested in a lasting relationship, especially not with Luke, but a moment of weakness finds her back in his arms. When she denies that being with him is anything other than a booty call, Luke is, once again, hurt by her disregard of his feelings. I felt so bad for him, and started thinking that perhaps Brenna wasn’t the perfect match for him. He deserved so much better than her casual dismissal, but he can’t move on. Their relationship, at times, is so painfully awkward that I couldn’t understand the constant pull they felt for each other.
Brenna has some deep emotional issues to work out, and the final resolution to her problems seemed too easily won. Shifts in time left me reeling, wondering how Brenna arrived from Point A to Point B in her relationship with her family and in her relationship with Luke. The ending was too rushed for me to be satisfied, and for the first time in a long while, I wanted more; more pages, more detail, more depth. This story is just too big to fit into allotted pages.
Review copy provided by publisher