Forget Enemies-to-Lovers: 10 Books That Prove Second Chance Romances Are Better


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Whether you’ve read 10 or 100 romance novels, you know the tropes. Fake dating. Enemies to lovers. Forced proximity. Friends to lovers. Marriage of convenience. And whether you’ve read 10 or 100 romance novels, you have your favorite. If you’re like me, that favorite is second-chance romance. Why? Because it’s the best romance trope.

Second-chance romances are filled with the emotional tension of past feelings and things unsaid. They often take place over multiple timelines, showing us the main characters at different stages of their lives. They’re almost always combined with another trope, allowing us to also enjoy the sweetness of friends to lovers or the intensity of forced proximity. And best of all, they’re often very steamy.

Have I convinced you yet? Whether you’re already a fan or new to the trope, these books will prove that second chance is the best romance trope.

Carley Fortune
Meet Me at the Lake

Fern and Will spent one unforgettable day together in their early 20s. They made a pact to meet again one year later, but Fern showed up and Will didn’t. Nine years later, Fern is forced to leave the life she’s built in the city in order to run her mother’s lakeside resort, something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, Fern’s ex-boyfriend is the manager, and she doesn’t know where to begin. To her surprise, Will arrives with an offer to help her save the resort. Fern and Will couldn’t be what each other needed before. But can they be now?

Carley Fortune proved she can write a second-chance romance with her debut, Every Summer After. In her sophomore novel, she switches things up by showing us less time in the past and more time in the present. And just like her first novel, Meet Me at the Lake is filled with the hurt of things left unsaid and the longing for a connection you’ve never forgotten.

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Ava Wilder
Will They or Won't They

As the stars of a hit paranormal TV show, Lilah and Shane spent five seasons pining for each other onscreen and one season giving into their physical attraction to one another offscreen. Now, after trying and failing to become a movie star, Lilah is back to film the much-hyped ninth and final season of Intangible, which promises fans that Lilah and Shane’s characters will get together at last. But the real-life Lilah and Shane despise each other and haven’t spoken in years. Will they be able to give their fans a happy ending? Will they be able to find one for themselves?

Will They Or Won’t They is the steamy, heartwarming story of how Lilah and Shane’s physical attraction turns into something much deeper.

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Christina Lauren
Love and Other Words

Macy Sorensen thinks she finally has it all figured out, settling down and planning her wedding with an older, financially secure man. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the life she’s settled for doesn’t feel like enough anymore. But there are reasons, including one very big one, why Macy and Elliot didn’t work as teenagers. Is it possible for them to work now?

This dual-time, friends-to-lovers story is sure to have you turning pages as you uncover why these two people who are perfect for each other haven’t spoken in years.

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Emily Henry
Happy Place

For the eight years since Harriet and Wyn met in college, they have been the perfect couple. At least, that’s what their friends think. Because even though it’s been six months since Harriet and Wyn broke off their engagement, they still haven’t told anyone. And now, on their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends, their secret must be kept. Because with the cottage for sale and an unexpected wedding to plan, they can’t let their friends down. After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week, anyway?

In Happy Place, Emily Henry combines her signature laugh-out-loud banter with the incredible emotional—and sexual—tension of two people who have decided not to be together but are quickly realizing they may have made the wrong choice.

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Annabel Monaghan
Same Time Next Summer

When Sam returns to her family’s Long Island beach house to tour a wedding venue with her fiancé, Jack, she believes her life is on track. But the minute she realizes Wyatt is there, she is forced to question everything. Because Wyatt is the adventure-loving, guitar-playing boy Sam spent every summer with from age five to seventeen, until he broke her heart and never spoke to her again. And now, all of Sam’s feelings for him are coming back, their connection as undeniable as it always was.

Same Time Next Summer is an honest story of first love, found, lost, and found again, set against the beautiful backdrop of Long Island in the summer.

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K.A. Tucker
Say You Still Love Me

As the twenty-nine-year-old VP of her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, Piper Calloway is a busy woman, constantly working to prove her worth in a male-dominated world that includes her ex-fiancé, a fellow VP. She doesn’t have time to think about Kyle Miller, the guy from the wrong side of the tracks who became her first love when they worked together as summer camp counselors. That is, until he shows up at Calloway Group as a new security guard. Now, Piper is determined to make Kyle explain why he never got in touch with her after that summer, no matter the consequences.

With the sweetness of a summer camp setting and the drama of a workplace romance, Say You Still Love Me will have you turning pages until you reach its unbelievable ending.

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Elle Kennedy
Bad Girl Reputation

When Gen returns home to Avalon Bay for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Gen isn’t the party girl she once was, and as soon as she finds someone else to help her father run his business, she’s heading right back to the stable life she’s built in Charleston. But Evan knows that their attraction is undeniable and insists he can prove to Gen that they can be good together. Can these two former trouble makers really turn over a new leaf for each other?

Bad Girl Reputation isn’t told in multiple timelines, but it is told in multiple perspectives, allowing you to see Gen and Evan reminisce about their past, come back together in the present, and plan for their lives together in the future.

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Elissa Sussman
Once More With Feeling

It was always Kathleen Rosenberg’s dream to be a star: and she did it. She became Katee Rose, America’s number one pop star, playing sold-out concerts and dating Ryan LaNeve, the hottest member of adored boy band CrushZone. But fame isn’t exactly what she thought it would be, and Kathleen finds herself spending more and more time with CrushZone’s quiet, serious Cal Kirby. One night is all it takes to blow up her relationship with Ryan, her career, and her whole life. Now, Kathleen Rosenberg has a chance at fame again, a starring role in the Broadway show written by her best friend and directed by none other than Cal. Kathleen and Cal must move beyond their past in order to put on a good show, but will they be able to stop themselves from reigniting an old flame?

Expertly weaving between multiple timelines, Once More With Feeling reveals Kathleen and Cal’s history, every friendship-filled scene from the past only making you root for them more in every tension-filled scene in the present.

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Tessa Bailey
Secretly Yours

Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now, Julian is back in Napa Valley to write his first novel and Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens of the Vos estate. Hallie’s crush is as strong as ever, even causing her to leave a secret admirer note for Julian after one wine-filled night. Julian doesn’t remember fourteen-year-old Hallie, but he can’t deny his attraction for her, even though she’s always arriving to garden frustratingly late, bringing her loud dogs with her and disrupting his writing time. Will Hallie and Julian find a way to fit into each other’s lives, or will Hallie’s carefree attitude be too much for Julian’s tightly scheduled life?

Tessa Bailey is known for her steamy sex scenes, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint in Secretly Yours. I mean, can you imagine finally being with your high school crush when he’s had over a decade to grow into an even more attractive man? Read Chapter 10, and you won’t have to imagine any more.

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Beth O'Leary
The Road Trip

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun, where Dylan was a guest and Addie was a caretaker at an enormous French villa. Now, two years after their relationship ended, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again—literally. They crash cars while on their way to their mutual friend’s wedding, giving themselves no choice but to complete the journey together, Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy from Facebook along for the ride. Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart—and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

In The Road Trip, Beth O’Leary gives us two timelines, one with the opposites attract story of how Dylan and Addie first got together, one with the enemies to lovers story about how they come back to each other, and both of which will have you wanting everything for these characters.

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