Series: Second Chance Duet
Published by Self Published on 3/14/18
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon
Love and the right timing were two things I didn't believe in.
Love is about walking to the edge of the cliff and taking the leap together.
Timing was never on our side.
My first mistake was hooking up with my best friend.
My second came years later, when we met again, and I fell for her.
My third was letting her go, because I had to. Because a love like this wasn't built to withstand the winds coming in our direction.
Love and timing.
I didn't believe in either.
Then there was you . . .
It’s official, the complete Second Chance duet is LIVE on Amazon and here for you to read! Woohoo. Today we have a bunch of reviews—Jessica talks about BOTH books in the series + I review the duet as a whole. You kind find all book info, links, and blurbs! This is an intense read, you guys, full of twists and turns but also layered with some sweetness!
Then There Was You – Bk #1
My Way Back To You – Bk #2
PS: I decided to review this series as a whole. This is a combined review for books 1 + 2!
“One thing I learned in the aftermath of our love was that my heart can crack, break into a million pieces, and shatter like glass, but it kept beating.”
This series is drama, angst, and heartbreak wrapped in a sexy package of heartwarming. Two books that suck you in and don’t spit you out until the last pages. If I had one word to described the Second Chance duet it would be: INTOXICATING. From the moment I started reading I was lost to these characters as they undid me, consumed me, and completely intoxicated me. There’s so much back and forth, so much push and pull, so much chaos and tension, so many delicious twists and turns which make the angst tangible and palpable. It’s a saga that, for the most part, kept me on my toes. If you’re an angst lover, you’ll devour book 1 like a last meal, and if you like sweet and heartfelt then book 2 will act like a balm to the angsty wounds that book 1 gave you. It’s truly a tumultuous tale that has has a bit of everything for everyone, and man, I really loved the ride.
The Second Chance duet is composed of two installments: Then There Was You (Bk #1) and My Way Back to You (Bk #2)! It follows the Hawthorne and Monte families—specifically Tessa Monte and Rowan Hawthorne. Tessa and Rowan grew up together, had a relationship in high school that fell apart when Ro went to college. They both go there separate ways, not staying in touch, until years later when Tessa is back in town to sell her parents house. In the first book the story unfolds in past and present chapters, inviting us to view the development of Tessa and Rowan’s romance but also showing the breakdown of that friendship and relationship. So much happens in these books. SO. FLIPPING. MUCH. But one thing is clear, it’s a roller coaster ride of emotion that’ll leave you absolutely winded.
Now obviously, I can’t disclose details because of SPOILERS, but this series is about second chances, forgiveness, and new beginnings. Where book 1 is a full on angst-fest that ends with a jaw dropping cliff, the second book is a complete departure in tone. It’s sweeter, more mellow, more relaxed, way less tumultuous, but still manages moments of angst that squeeze your chest and make your tummy drop with feels.
Tessa and Ro are a couple who never quite find the right timing to make a relationship work. Rowan is closed off, broken from growing up in a home that oozed coldness. While Tessa is the opposite, her family (though somewhat in shambles) still manages to hold onto their connection and supports each other. Rowan and Tessa have to walk different paths in life and this is a showcase of the time it takes for them to work their way together. And man, is it bumpy.
Overall, I really enjoyed this second chance duet. The first book had me completely enrapture, gripped by the romantic drama that played out before my eyes. I was giddy with anticipation of what was coming in the second installment. Playing it out in my mind. And while My Way Back to You didn’t live up to what I initially thought it would be, it still kept me totally captivated. The full on raging angst-fest we saw in book 1, went in a totally different direction in book 2. And while I admit it took me a minute to feel where the second half was going, to ultimately accept the tempered down angst, I was still enthralled by this couple, still drawn to what would become of them! I couldn’t put it down, and I’m sad the ride is over. It was so good and gave me so many beautiful, romantic moments. I truly loved it. And I absolutely recommend this. You won’t regret reading!
Bk 1 – Then There Was You – 5 Stars.
Bk 2 – My Way Back to You – 3.5 – 4 Stars
Overall Series Rating: 4 Stars.
Bk #1 – Then There Was You
The first half of this book had me completely confused. I was torn. I didn’t know what I was feeling, if I was feeling the connection, the chemistry, the backstory that I desperately wanted to feel and understand. I wavered between wanting to hungrily turn the pages to see where this was going and struggling to connect with it at all. It was such a crazy war I had going on inside me at first but by the end I was so glad I had pushed on. Truthfully, I had no choice BUT to push on. I was hooked. Somewhere along the way I became totally gripped by this crazy friendship turned romance between Rowan and Tessa. I was GUTTED. I was consumed by their angsty push and pull, by the intoxicating, infuriating mess of emotions that Claire Contreras created here in Then there Was You. It was just… WHOA. It was so good and so brutal and so angsty. I need the second book RIGHT FREAKING NOW.
I won’t even go into the plot details because JUST READ IT. There’s so much happening, so much history between these characters, so much familial drama and reluctant feelings and career obligations and so much sexual tension. It’s this chaotic mess of emotions and stuff I loved and stuff I hated and there’s really nothing I can say other than I NEED MORE.
A story I wasn’t sure of quickly became a story I couldn’t get enough of on these pages and it left me hanging on the edge for dear life silently screaming OMG, WTF, NO, YES, HELL FREAKING YES!!! This duet is shaping up to be deliciously romantic, wholly infuriating, and I can’t wait for the second book. This was just.. ughhhhh… so good. I wish it wasn’t so good because I CAN NOT WAIT for more.
Bk #2 – My Way Back to You
I was initially left feeling a bit torn about my feelings on this book. I was left a riot of confused emotions that seemed to contradict one another when I finished reading. It took me a bit to reflect on all of it, to reconcile everything I felt while reading and the conclusion I inevitably came to was surprising, even to myself.
First, I need to make something abundantly clear. I ENJOYED THIS BOOK. I really liked it. I actually couldn’t put it down. But my inability to put it down is partially blamed on the fact that I was voraciously looking for the emotional depth and angsty drama that riddled the first book. I had such high hopes for the sequel, that My Way back to You would be another emotional rollercoaster ride, and because of that, I came away a smidge underwhelmed at first. This is NOT a reboot of book one. It has a decidedly different vibe than the first book and it took me a little while to come to terms with that. Time and circumstances and the characters themselves have changed quite a bit and so this sequel plays out in ways I didn’t expect. To be honest, I struggled with that at first. I wanted more of that chaotic uncertainty. But once I let go of what I was missing, I could appreciate this for exactly what it is, a lush second chance romance that’s intention is to fix what was broken and send these characters off in a way they deserve.
Then There Was You was layers upon layers of juicy angst, turbulent emotions and frustrating drama. I loved it. It had me riveted. The epic cliffhanger left with so many questions, so many possibilities, so much hope for what was to come that I think the time jump, the timeline that became immediately clear at the beginning of this second book, was initially disappointing. While I applaud Contreras for not giving readers what they’d expect, I did also feel like an opportunity had been missed for some serious character growth, for some hard decisions to be made by Rowan, an opportunity for him to fight for what was more important given his predicament at the time. Setting this sequel up the way it was made things easier… Maybe too easy for my personal taste. But that’s the angst lover in me craving the addictive taste of heartache. At the end of the day though, I had to let go of all the things I wished had been different and accept what was. And I suppose that’s what Rowan and Tessa had to do too.
This is a story about love prevailing when the time is right. It’s about acceptance. It’s about letting go of all the things you wish were different and learning to move on with what you’re given. It’s sad, the lost time, the years that were stolen. It was frustrating for me that there wasn’t more anger on these pages, a bigger fight over all the things that should’ve been different. But that’s what forgiveness is. It’s about letting go of the hope that things could’ve been any different and accepting the gift of a second chance.
Once I forgave Claire Contreras for what she did here and accepted that this wasn’t the story I initially wanted but rather it was the story they NEEDED, I could see this for the sweet second chance that it is. I understood that maybe it’s such a sweet story because after all that these characters have been through, after the years of longing and heartache that separated them, they deserved some relief from all that. Did I think things were a little TOO EASY in this sequel? Yes. A bit. (It’s not you, it’s me.) I missed the push and pull. I longed for the tumultuous emotions that I felt so starkly in book one. But I also loved where these characters ended up. I felt the sweet victory of getting everything they yearned for after so much had separated them. I got it! And with that said, I can’t recommend this beautiful duet enough. This will break your heart and mend it. It’ll infuriate you, it’ll tear at your heartstrings and soothe them back together with humor and blissful romance. And it’ll teach you the hard lesson that what you want isn’t necessarily what you need. It’s beautiful and heartfelt and emotional and I really, really enjoyed it.
About the Author
Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages.
She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she’s not writing, she’s usually lost in a book.
SERIES READING ORDER:
PS: This is a duet, two books. It needs to be read in order!