Nov 19 2012 4:00pm

Author Cara Elliott on Second Chances in Love

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) 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 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.

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa KleypasSecond 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.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. GrowlyCub
I'm trying very hard not to be snarky here, but it would behoove an author to double check her facts before posting. Reggie is not the reason Alys fled from home and they were not engaged. Randolph Lennox was her betrothed.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@GrowlyCub: Thanks, I'm checking with Cara about the book. I read it so long ago I don't recall myself!
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
We edited to remove the reference to The Rake--thanks for the catch, @GrowlyCub.
4. Lucy D
I am so looking forward to this story. Cameron is such a mysterious character, not even sharing his past with this good friends. I definitely agree that we see life differently at forty then we did at 18 and the decisions we would make are different. Not only the choices we make might be different, but the original choice that we made will effect who we become both for the hero and the heroine.
5. CarolAnn
My favourite second chance book is definitely AGAIN THE MAGIC by LISA KLEYPAS. Such a powerful and moving story that can reduce me to tears every time I read it!
Vanessa Ouadi
6. Lafka
Oh, I love second chances books, exactly for the reason Cara Elliott mentions : so many possibilities! I like either former lovers/sweethearts who parted ways and then become reacquainted, or former friends/enemies who meet again after several years apart and realize perhaps there was or is more between them than what they think.

Among my favorites :

- Sarah MacLean's A rogue by any other name : in this historical, Bourne and Penelope used to be best friends, but after his parents' death and a gambling debacle, Bourne left without a word. Years afterwards, Bourne is back and determined to marry Penelope, but only to get the land attached to her dowry. The two of them struggle between who they both used to be and who they have become ; and what they used to and still mean for one another.

- Katherine Allred' The Sweet Gum Tree : it's a contemporary tear-jerker, about Nick and Alix who used to be friends then lovers when teenagers. Nick leaves without a word, leaving unknowingly behind him, not only a devastated Alix, but also a baby. He comes back to town years later but Alix, who is struggling to get herself back together after the death of her child and her divorce, is less than thrilled about it.

- Linda Howard's After the Night : in this contemporary romance, the hero and heroine have quite a lot standing behind them _ the hero's father ran away with the heroine's mother, which caused the hero' sister to try to kill herself and the heroine's family to be thrown out of their home in the dead of the night. Faith comes back to town 12 years later, to the great displeasure of Grey.

- Leslie D. Stuart's Roses in Winter was very good (though "cleaner" than my useal reads), a contemporary about a man who was brokenhearted when the woman he's loved his whole life left to live her dreams of music playing and become famous. She comes back years later to heal her wounds after the death of their son in a car accident.

Also on my to-be-read list is Elizabeth Boyce's Once a Duchess, a regency-set historical romance about two formerly married people who got a divorce and then meet again. It seems very promising, I'm quite eager to read it!

Funny fact, it seems several books released recently are dealing with former best friends or sweethearts who meet after spending years apart, except one of them (the hero) has become a rockstar in the meanwhile. That's the plot of Samantha Towle's The Mighty Storm, for instance. I think that's an intersting twist of the second chance trope :-)
7. Alie
I have to say my favourite second chances book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. Be still my heart Captain Wentworth!
8. carmenlire
I really liked Seduce Me At Sunrise; but After the Night and Again the Magic. Those are soo good!
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