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Second Chance Romance

What is the Second Chance Romance?

This genre is called the “second chance romance genre” since it focuses on the story of the “one that got away.” It is an incredibly popular genre since so many readers can relate to it, and it brings us back to our own memories of whoever “the one” was.

What to Expect in the Second Chance Romance Genre

  • Pretty equally divided between the hero’s and heroine’s perspective

  • There is no common reason the two separated (someone moved away, they were forbidden to be together, someone was pursuing a career opportunity, someone went into the military, etc)

  • The two are not looking for one another when they reconnect

  • The two are mostly depicted as normal, everyday characters that we might know (or be)

  • A lot of the characters meet as young children

Second Chance Romance Characteristics

  • Level of Angst

    On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre is usually about an 8 or a 9. For some reason, these novels really connect with the reader, and we are often personally invested in whether or not the couples end up getting together. It does tend to be one the genres where the reader cares more about the development of the relationship and their path to reconciliation.

  • Character Development

    Character development in this genre is pretty done. As mentioned above, there are numerous reasons the couple split in the past, and their ages, jobs, and situations are quite diverse. They are mostly common, everyday people with everyday problems, although occasionally there is a “boy makes good and returns home to reclaim girl” scenario.

  • Plot Strength

    The plot strength is not nearly as important as the character development in these novels. Once the scenario has been explained for why the two were separated in the beginning, the plot does not usually take center stage. Exceptions always exist, of course, and sometimes there is some mystery/crime being solved and the victim/potential victim comes face to face with her long lost love, who is the one assigned to save/protect/guard her.

  • Romantic Tension

    There is quite a bit of romantic tension in this genre. We already know that there was a previous relationship/lost love, so we know that sparks flew once before. Figuring out what will “work” to bring these two back together does create some tension.

  • Level of Eros

    This genre probably has one of the higher levels of eros since it features a couple who had “it” and lost it. Their previous connection feeds into their current relationship, and their history with one another serves to create a high level of anticipation.

  • Prose Quality

    This is an interesting element here since the reader often inserts their own story into the novel. So, while the quality of writing is always dependent on the individual author, this genre is less dependent on their actual writing skill and more dependent on how they frame the situation/the characters: The more relatable they are to the reader, the better.

Related Romance Subgenres



  • The related subgenre here is basically contemporary romance…most of the novels are set in a contemporary framework, although this genre does age pretty well.

Second Chance Romance isn't for you if

You like glitz and glam – these characters are usually pretty down to earth. You like time-travel/the supernatural. You are impatient – these characters don’t just fall back into bed.

Second Chance Romance is totally for you if

You have your own “one that got away” and wonder whatever happened to him/her. You like a challenge, and real-life situations.

Popular Second Chance Romance Books
  • 1 The Sweet Gum Tree (2005)

    By Katherine Allred. Tells the story a woman who was left confused, abandoned and pregnant by her childhood love. Then one day he returns, and threatens everything she has worked so hard to achieve.

  • 2 Change of Heart (2014)

    By Jude Deveraux. Is the story of a boy and girl who have no friends but each other, and they have hilarious adventures until her family moves away with no warning and no goodbye. Fast forward 20 years later – both of them have not had successful relationships, and they decide to meet up one more time to see if they can recapture the “what might have beens” from their past. Note: This book is written in 2 parts; the first part focuses on them as kids, and the second focuses on them as adults.

  • 3 Paradise (1992)

    By Judith McNaught. A bit of departure from many of the novels in this genre in that it is about the rivalry between two power players who used to be married, got divorced and now find themselves engaged in an encounter that threatens to consume them both once again.

  • 4 Second Chance Romance (2010)

    By Asrai Devin. Focuses on high school sweethearts who reconnect through Facebook. The heroine decides on one last date to get the hero out of her system, but little does she know that he definitely has other plans.

  • 5 Back to You (2012)

    By Priscilla Glenn. Focuses on the story of high school friendship which ended painfully, and which when revisited as adults threatens to consume them both once again.

  • 6 Take this Regret (2012)

    By A.L. Jackson. Tells the story of a man who betrayed his wife and unborn child for his career. He eventually realizes his mistake and begins his fight to win them back.

  • 7 Take this Regret (2011)

    By Amy Lichtenhan. Has the same name as Jackson’s book, and tells a similar story. This novel tells the story of a woman who gets pregnant during college and who expects her boyfriend to stand by her and be supportive of her decision to keep the baby. He is not, and walks out on her. Fast forward almost 20 years, and the hero encounters his daughter working in a local grocery store. It propels him to try to reclaim what he left years before.

  • 8 Don’t Let Go (2015)

    By Sharla Lovelace. Is a pretty classic second chance romance – boy and girl fall in love, split under terrible circumstances, both feel that something is missing from their lives, and then they rediscover one another.

  • 9 Fighting to Breathe (2015)

    By Aurora Rose Reynolds. Is the story a young couple who fall in love and believe in happily ever after – until she suddenly and inexplicably leaves, leaving him reeling. Fast forward 15 years to her return, and their slow journey back to trust and love.

  • 10 The Lie (2016)

    By Karina Halle. Tells the story of a couple that was too combustible to survive, so they both pulled away and started lives on their own. Tragedy leads both to start over in London, where they rediscover one another and decide if they can start again.