This is the last ‘A Second Chance at Love’ post in our series about tropes in romance literature
by Nicole Murphy
One of the important aspects of having a romance novel work is having a great reason for the tension between the hero and heroine. They’re not supposed to have their happily ever after until the end of the novel – how do you keep them apart when it’s so obvious they should be together?
I think that’s why ‘second chance at love’ is such a fantastic trope, because nothing creates tension between a couple better than a difficult first attempt at being a couple. There is of course instant passion, but there are also instant bad memories, perhaps even resentment, dislike and hurt.
All that past history enables a writer to really play out reasons for them not to have a happily ever after – it didn’t work the first time, why should it work now? There’s nothing artificial in this problem and it’s one that we can all relate to, but at the same time that we desperately want them to work it out because we’re all die-hard romantics.
I used this trope in Protecting her Heart, the third book in my science fiction romance series. I’d set myself a real challenge with this book – the heroine was one of the antagonists in the first book in the series. She was a harsh, uncompromising, unfeeling character. In order to work out how to make her a romance heroine, I had to work out her past – how did she become this character? What is within her that makes her capable of having a happy ever after? The answer – her first great love.
So Paolo comes back into Plissa’s life. Making her wish for the life she’d turned her back on. A life that was now impossible.
Someone told me the other day that they’ve read a lot of SF romance lately, and that this book was one of the best because the tension as to whether Plissa and Paolo could overcome all the problems in their relationship and get their happily ever after was so real for the entirety of the book. I was really proud of that.
I fell in love with the ‘second chance at love’ trope when reading Nalini Singh’s Secrets in the Marriage Bed. It was done brilliantly – the problems in the estranged marriage so obvious, the heroine fighting for her freedom, the hero blind to her needs. Nalini handled the trope and let the tension play out and be resolved beautifully.
What’s your favourite ‘Second Chance at Love’ story?
Plissa has always valued her head above her heart, her ambition over her relationships, but with Paolo back in her life—and her bed—it soon becomes clear that her future is not the only thing she’s risking.