ARC-review: SECOND CHANCES by Lauren Dane

Ten years ago, Rori Simon left town shy, unattractive and with zero self-esteem. Now she’s back, older, stronger and finally loving herself—and it shows. Hot men are soon knocking at her door, including Jude Callahan, the bad boy who starred in her teenage daydreams…and her adult fantasies.

Jude can’t believe the sexy, confident woman before him is actually Rori! She’s gotten under his skin like no other woman has…and brings out secret desires he can’t resist. He wants to dominate Rori with every fiber of his being. Wants to own her and pleasure her. To cherish her as he makes her his.

Rori discovers she likes being controlled. She also knows Jude is not a one-woman man. Everything changes when she meets Zach Helm. Edgy, sensual Zach knows just what she needs, and before long, she’s in love. Jude watches them together and wonders if he’s lost his chance forever…



Title: Second Chances
Author: Lauren Dane
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Year of release: 2010, October 25 (this is a revised reprint of an earlier title)
Format: eBook
Source: Requested and received digital ARC from publisher through NetGalley

First line:
You can come home again.
Bittersweet memories overwhelmed Rori as she pulled her packed sedan up her sister’s the tree-lined driveway.

Memorable Scenes:
– Restaurant scene with Zach > OMG! Scorching!
– A scene I cannot reveal much about but it was the pivotal scene of this book and made me cry like a baby, sobbing and all.

As far as summaries go, you’ll have to do with the blurb because I can’t say anything more without spoiling and this is a book best read without spoilers that would ruin a lot of pivotal emotional moments in the story. SECOND CHANCES touches subjects as D/s and bondage but also emotional stuff as family bonds and a tense mother-daughter relationship, loss, grief and a bunch of other stuff I can’t mention for fear of spoilers.

This story has three main characters and I’m not talking ménage here. It’s a complicated love story filled with heat, emotions and struggles.

After a break-up with her cheating ex-boyfriend, Rori Simon leaves the life she’s build in Paris and moves back to her hometown and her roots after ten years. She re-connects with Jude, the town’s bad boy, womanizer and her friend whom she had a crush on when she was a young. She also decides she’s not going to chase after Jude him because no matter how much she wants Jude she’s also realistic enough to realize exclusiveness is not in his vocabulary. Though she is falling for him, and has fallen for him she demands respect and will not taking his crap.

Throughout the story I couldn’t fully connect with Rori. She was too fickle for me at times but I can’t say I didn’t like her. I liked her as a heroine because she was strong, self-confident and realistic. I just had trouble with some of her decisions and I never quite felt her emotionally except during a pivotal emotional scene where her hurt broke my heart.

Jude Callahan is a commanding charmer and a commitment-phobic, skirt-chasing womanizer. He’s not the one-woman type but rather juggles multiple women at the same time, enjoying them but never committing to one of them. A fact he openly admits to and doesn’t pretend he’s not. And it’s been made easy for him with the women falling at his feet so he doesn’t even have to make an effort.

Until Rori’s return changes things and he finds himself doing the chasing instead of the other way around and he starts feeling things (jealousy, possessiveness) he’s never felt before. Rori calls… no, screams, to his urge to dominate. Deep down he’s not the carefree bachelor he seems to be. Opening up and making himself vulnerable because of how he’s starting to feel about Rori scares him to death, which is why he inadvertently pushes her away as he doesn’t open up to her other than sexually.

This drives Rori to Zach Helm, her best friend’s brother. Zach is the total opposite of Jude. He is ready to commit and so the focus of hero shifted to him, another Dominant but very openly so. He fills the emotional void that Jude left. Though both Zach and Jude are Doms Zach is more sure and comfortable with his mastery, which made him come out on top and made the sex scenes with him and Rori hotter to read.

Jude really started to get on my nerves with his petty jealousy over Rori once she’s with Zach. He came across as a petulant child stomping his foot because he didn’t get what he wanted but only wanted it after he threw it away and someone else grabbed it. Still, as much as he got on my nerves and as much as I wanted to smack him for being an ass to Rori, Jude was the character I clicked with the most.

Zach to me was kept on the surface as a character, understandably once you get to the heart of the story and I couldn’t completely click with Rori. Jude was the one who made a significant enough character development for me. Then something big, significant and heartbreaking happens and Rori and Jude grow close again and at the start of that development in the story my feelings about it were ambivalent.

I admired how Lauren Dane tackled the situation and the romance in this novel but I wasn’t sure if I was going to love it in the end. It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill romance novel that you just go through the motions with. It made me stop and wonder what I would do in Rori’s place faced with the situations Lauren Dane put her in.

There were some things I liked less in the story.
One thing that bothered me a bit was the flashbacks during sex scenes. Rori and Jude and Zach had them and they took me out of the sexy times mood, even when they were flashbacks with a sexual tone. Also Rori attracts dominant men but I didn’t find a foundation in her character to suggest she’s a sub other than both Zach and Jude saying she was “the perfect sub”. The “something clicked into place inside her” didn’t completely work for me either, as it was sudden and left too unfounded for me to truly accept it.

However there were so much more things that I did like about this story and they made the above little issues pale in comparison. I loved the quick alternations between Rori and Jude’s POVs, which gave the story a very fast-paced, feel and kept it moving forward.

The characters and their emotional development were also pluses for me. This goes for Jude especially because he could have been a character easy to dislike, even hate, but the way Lauren Dane portrayed him you just can’t because he’s very unapologetically upfront about who and what he is, he learns from his mistakes and his redemption is believable and heartfelt.

The story at a swift pace and a lot of things were happening yet it never felt rushed. SECOND CHANCES is emotional, witty and super hot. The emotions make it honest, genuine and realistic. The romance that is not of the flowery, all sunshine and roses kind touched me deeply. I cried through the last 4 or 5 chapters and had to put it down a few times just to get a grip.

Lauren Dane ripped my heart out with this book but she also put it back, whole and rich with a new emotional reading experience. This shouldn’t surprise me because it’s Lauren Dane. Need I say more? I love her writing whether it’s contemporary, futuristic, full-out erotic or just sexy. She writes, I love!

Favorite Quotes:

The men pulled up chairs and sat. It was simply not a chore at all to look at them there. Like a box of chocolates of male beauty. A little of every type and she liked them all.

Tonya Big Boobs came back with their drinks and gave Jude another facial massage with her mammary glands. So conscientious, that girl.

The part of him that wanted to gobble her up and binge warred with the part that wanted to draw it out, fully taste every single moment they had, including the build up to what he knew would be explosive and very hot sex.

And just to be clear, there is no me and Rori. I just took her for a drink, a dance and a ride on my bike.”
“And a tonsillectomy on the front porch.”

“You know, I can think of a lot better ways to spend this evening. There are just so many things I’d rather be licking than this spoon.”
“Oh yeah?” His eyes darkened. “Please, feel free to elaborate. In great detail. With your tongue in my ear if you wish.”
“Show me,” he said, a slight tremor in his voice.
“Can’t here, you’re a cop, you’d have to arrest me. Although the idea of you putting me in handcuffs does have its appeal.”

“This is like a symbol that I’m yours? Not as in, you own me, though, right? Because I am not down with that, mister.”
He smiled at her sauciness. “I don’t own you, you’re a human being. So beautiful and perfect. The collar is a symbol that you are mine emotionally and physically. But I’m yours, too. You won’t lose yourself to me, Rori. I don’t want your independence, your spirit. I just want your obedience in bed.”

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