Today we welcome author Cara Elliot, whose upcoming release Too Dangerous to Desire is the final installment in her Lords of Midnight trilogy. We are delighted to have Cara here to talk about second chances at love.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about second chances. Maybe it’s because in the grand scheme of Life, it’s so rare that we get things perfectly right the first time around. Think about it—how many times have you wished go back and make a different choice? You know, from that swanky prom dress that was two sizes too small in the ass (prompting a “WTF was I thinking!” moment when trying to wiggle into it on the big night)...to a stupid fight with a best friend that lingered far longer than any memory of what it was about…to falling in love.
Which, of course, brings us to the subject of men. A complicated subject, especially when one is talking about “getting it right.” Finding Mr. Right is, of course, an elemental theme in the romance genre. But what intrigues me is how often Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong are one in the same.
As I said, it’s complicated.
Time and chance. Amazing how those two Fates shape us. Right and wrong. Our perceptions change as we ourselves grow and evolve. How many of us are the same person at eighteen as we are at thirty? Forty? Cynicism, humor, tolerance, forgiveness—all the little things that add up to what we call wisdom keeps changing our perspective on who we are and what makes us happy. Not that wisdom has much influence over the heart. But it makes things...more interesting
Which is why I find the classic romance trope of young lovers who are separated—for a variety of reasons—and then find themselves thrown together again a fascinating one. The layers of emotion are far deeper, the conflicts are far more complex than they are between a couple who meet for the first time. As an author, I’m drawn to all the possibilities...like an alchemist adding arcane ingredients to a fire-heated cauldron, I get excited by the potential for creating a very potent brew. That it’s a little dangerous and might turn volatile is part of the allure.
I love the trope as a reader as well. One of the reasons is because of the infinite variations, from sweetly poignant to kick-ass anger, from hidden longings to fiery confrontations. Betrayals! Misunderstandings! Heartbreak! Redemption! Reconciliation! Honestly, you have to admit that second-chance love is drama at its most delicious best.
Second chances takes a subtle shade of meaning in a favorite of mine, Seduce Me At Sunrise, book two in the Hathaway series by Lisa Kleypas. Longtime longing—edged with an “I’m not worthy” nobility-makes Kev a kinder, gentler hero. Yet the simmering passions are just as fierce. In this book, it’s the heroine who shows unexpected strength and resolve. Win returns from a lengthy absence spent recovering from a sickly childhood, and is now ready to confront her youthful admirer in different terms than before. They both know what they want—and she dares to reach out and grab it.
And who can blame her? The noble hero who thinks he’s not good enough for us...hard to resist that!
I took go on and on, but I’ll end on a brief note—a very brief note. Joanna Bourne’s short story “Intrigue and Mistletoe” in the just-released Christmas anthology Mischief and Mistletoe deals with deception and betrayal, and all the accompanying emotions of anger, hurt and rejection. The pages read like a burning match, with the first hot flame flaring on the chance encounter at a snowbound inn, then dying down to a more muted heat and glow as the two old lovers deal with their feelings. Jack is unapologetic for what he did. There were compelling reasons that made him put aside his personal feelings for that moment. But now he’s asking for Elinor to trust that he can make it up to her.
Ah, the elemental question—do you trust a man, and yourself, to get it right the second time around?
How do you feel about second chances? Would you ever consider rekindling a spark with an old flame? And what are some of you favorite “second chance” books?
[Editor's note: This post was edited after publishing.]
Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.