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Top Tropes of Romance Literature: Second Chance Edition

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 27, 2022

From love triangles to missed connections, second chance romances feature some standard (yet sexy!) tropes. And for some of us, these juicy scenarios are exactly what brings us back for more. Here are some of our favorite tropes from the genre.

The Love Triangle

Things can get complicated when friends become lovers. But it can be even more snarly when a love triangle wedges its way into a friend group. In Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec, Everett's in love with his childhood friend Cameron, but he doesn't want to stand in her way of happiness with his other best friend Aiden, so he leaves, moving far away. Until, five years later, tragedy brings him back to the life he left behind.

Amy Harmon's The Smallest Part presents the story of Mercedes, who harbors secret feelings for her childhood pal Noah. She knows she'll tell him when the time is right, but this dream falls apart when her best friend, brave, beautiful, broken Cora announces that she loves Noah, too. So Mercedes steps aside and accepts her role as best friend, bridesmaid, and godmother. This is the tale of the girl who didn't get the guy.

Relationship Rehab

Even the most loving and committed couples have moments when it looks like everything could fall apart. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover paints the portrait of such a crisis. Faced with a long history of memories, mistakes, and secrets, infertility seems like the last straw. Can Quinn and Graham find the will to fight for their love?

In The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams, second baseman Gavin Scott can play a mean game of baseball, but he can't give his wife an orgasm. When she asks for a divorce, Gavin enrolls in a crash course on how to woo her back in the form of a secret romance book club made up of men just like him.

Tessa Bailey's sweet Love Her or Lose Her tells the story of Rosie and Dominic, high school sweethearts whose passion has stalled. Contemplating divorce, they enroll in a marriage boot camp led by an eccentric hippie issuing a variety of assignments meant to help them see one another with fresh eyes.

Like Ships in the Night

Missed connections are a big theme in second chance love stories. In This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens Minnie and Quinn have never met, despite being born minutes apart at the same hospital on New Year's Eve. In fact, Minnie feels she has good reason to blame Quinn for all her bad luck in life. But then a chance meeting at a party on their mutual 30th birthday changes everything.

Offering a time-traveling twist on this trope is Justin A. Reynolds's YA fantasy Opposite of Always. It's the classic love story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall for each other. Girl dies. Boy gets sent back in time to when they first meet. Over and over again, Jack keeps being sent back in time, trying to figure out how to save Kate.

There's Some Baggage

They were madly in love, but then something terrible happened. In order to restore their spark, they'll need to figure out how to resolve their past.

In Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, Macy has her life in order. But when she runs into Elliot, the careful bubble she's constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy's entire world, until one terrible night. Now that they've reconnected, can they overcome the trauma of their past?

Alexis Daria's A Lot Like Adiós tells the story of Michelle who is perfectly fine with her single status amid her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Gabe, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after, disappeared thirteen years ago. But now he's back and they're working together. As old feelings resurface, can they resolve their past mistakes?

In Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino, Emeline is a struggling writer who is shocked to read her own story in a pseudonymously published bestselling novel. It can only mean that the author is Jase: the first love she hasn't seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered, Emiline is furious that he's co-opted her painful past and taken some creative liberties with the ending.

The One That Got Away

The timing wasn't right for these one-time lovers, but they never got over each other. When authors Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising eyebrows. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love and they've been secretly writing to each other ever since. This is the steamy premise of Seven Days in June by Tia Williams.

While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend and first love. Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur is the story of two women thrown together by fate . . . again. Will they get a second chance at romance?

This is the fourth in our series on common romantic tropes. Check out our past installments on regency, mafia, and friends-to-lovers. We hope you've enjoyed this sampling of a few of the many delicious flavors of romance literature.

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