I’m a softie for romantic comedies, both in books and movies. And with more and more second chances being highlighted in novels, regardless of genre, I decided to jump down that rabbit hole. While I definitely don’t want a second chance with any of my exes, it’s still fun to swoon over fictional lovers coming back together. Anyway, here are my 17 favorite second-chance romance novels.
‘Second Chance Summer’ by Morgan Matson
I had to start this list with a book with “second chance” in the title. So, here’s Second Chance Summer. It was the first book I read from Morgan Matson, and it got me hooked on her writing. I loved the concept, and it had me both crying and laughing as I read.
Taylor Edwards hasn’t been to the lake house in years. But after her father gets some news about his health, her entire family spends one last summer there. Now that Taylor is back, she has to confront the memories and feelings she thought she’d left in the past. And maybe she won’t run away this time.
‘The Ex Hex’ by Erin Sterling
Young witch Vivienne healed her broken heart with the typical heartbreak remedies. Plus, a little curse on her ex. She thinks everything is fine until he shows back up nine years later. Rhys’s luck has just gone down the drain as Vivienne’s hex takes effect. The two exes must work together before the town is destroyed in the wake of the curse.
While there are a ton of fantasies that include second chances with past lovers, I had to include The Ex Hex on this list because it’s just so much fun. Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall) wrote this book under the pseudonym of Erin Sterling. A sequel is expected later this year, titled The Kiss Curse, and will follow another character from this book.
‘Once Upon a Marquess’ by Courtney Milan
Judith Worth never wants to see or hear of Charles Trent ever again. He ruined her family’s name, and she has never forgiven him. But when Charles is the only person who can help her out of a tricky situation, she has no choice but to ask for help. Now, he’s back and doing whatever he can to try and win back the woman who hates him.
Once Upon a Marquess is the first in the historical fiction series The Worth Saga. There are seven novels and three novellas following various members of the Worth family and their love stories. While you could stop after just this novel, you won’t want to!
‘Again the Magic’ by Lisa Kleypas
Moving on to another historical fiction novel, we have Again the Magic, a prequel to the Wallflowers series. There are three more books and one novella. Again the Magic is perfect if you finished watching Bridgerton and read all the books recommended in fellow writer Erin Elizabeth’s list.
When Lady Aline Marsden was growing up, she was told to marry into the upper class. But the young woman falls for a John McKenna. When they’re caught, she lets him leave to keep him safe from her family. Years later, John returns with revenge on the mind. But fate has other plans.
‘The Lady Rogue’ by Jenn Bennett
Theodora wants to go treasure-hunting with her father, but he wants her to stay put. He instead takes her former lover, Huck Gallagher, on the adventures. When her father disappears during a treasure hunt, Theodora runs off with Huck to find the missing man.
This historical fantasy was way out of pocket from Jenn Bennett, who was better known for contemporary romances at the time. I just wish this had been the start of a series instead of a standalone.
‘Starry Eyes’ by Jenn Bennett
Zorie and Lennon have managed to avoid each other for the last year. However, a camping trip leaves them stranded with only each other. As they try to find their way back, they work through what went wrong with their friendship. Secrets long hidden are brought back up, and nothing will be the same when they finally make it home.
Yes, another Jenn Bennett entry, but it’s worth it because it’s one of her well-known YA contemporary novels. I loved Starry Eyes, but I would never want to be in Zorie and Lennon’s situation. Regardless, I couldn’t stop thinking of this book for months.
‘Count Your Lucky Stars’ by Alexandria Bellefleur
Ten years ago, Margo and Olivia fell apart. Now, Margot has sworn off relationships, while Olivia is a wedding planner who’s already been married and divorced. When Olivia ends up without a home, Margot opens up her place and the door to the past. Will they finally get their “happily ever after”?
While Count Your Lucky Stars is the third book in a series, it can be read as a standalone. The other books, Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon, are LGBTQ+ romances with other beloved tropes, like fake dating and right person-wrong time.
‘The Geography of Lost Things’ by Jessica Brody
Ali’s father left her a 1968 Firebird convertible when he died, but she’s not keeping it. The memories are too hard, and the money she’s offered for it is just enough to save her home. The problem: the only person she knows who drives a stick-shift is her ex-boyfriend, Nico. Is this trip what they needed to get a second chance?
Jessica Brody has been a staple in YA contemporary novels for years, and this book is no exception. There are tons of road trip novels out there right now, but this book is in my top five.
‘The Road Trip’ by Beth O’Leary
Yes, another road trip story, but both are so good, I couldn’t choose. And it’s Beth O’Leary; I have a soft spot for her writing. From The Flatshare to The Switch, O’Leary has had hit after hit in the rom-com department. And this road trip with too many people in one car is no different.
Addie and her sister are on the way to a wedding in Scotland when Addie’s ex, Dylan, totals his car right behind theirs. Dylan and his friend are going to the wedding, but now they’ve no way to get there. Soon, all four are stuffed in a car with their luggage–and their personal baggage. Will the forced proximity lead to a second chance at romance?
‘Bad Romeo’ by Leisa Rayven
Cassie and Ethan first fell in love at acting school when they played star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. But Ethan broke her heart, and they both moved on. Years later, they’re set to star in another romance in college. With their chemistry, how hard will it be for Cassie to protect her heart?
In addition to Bad Romeo, the rest of the Starcrossed series has more second-chance romances and enemies-to-lovers storylines. The second book and direct sequel is Broken Juliet, while a third following separate characters is Wicked Heart.
‘These Violent Delights’ by Chloe Gong
Juliette Cai is the new leader of the Scarlet Gang; Roma Montagov is the leader of the rival gang, the White Flowers. When a dark force starts killing both of their gangs, the two lovers-turned-enemies must work together to save their city. Will they be able to put aside their hatred and love for each other long enough, though?
TikTok wasn’t wrong when they said this duology was exceptional. It’s a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in Shanghai with supernatural elements weaved in. A spinoff series is also in the works.
‘The Shaadi Set-Up’ by Lillie Vale
Rita is happy with her career, life, and boyfriend, Neil. But when her first love, Milan, shows up for her help flipping a house, her life is undoubtedly shaken up. She signs herself and her boyfriend for a Desi matchmaking service to prove they’re a perfect match. But the results say different: it matches Rita and Milan instead. Is the website right?
This novel is Lillie Vale’s first adult rom-com, but she had one YA rom-com out shortly before this. The Shaadi Set-Up may be standalone, but I can’t wait to see what else Vale has in store for her next books. I just hope she tackles more beloved tropes because she knows how to do it with a nice twist.
‘Been There Done That’ by Hope Ellis
Been There Done That is the first book in the Leffersbee series, but it can be read as a standalone. Before and After You, the sequel, follows different characters in the same town. I honestly can’t wait for the next books from Hope Ellis; I need more stories from her!
Zora’s life is falling apart–her career, her employees’ careers, and her love life are crumbling around her. Still unsure where she’ll end up when everything settles again, Zora can’t help wondering, “What else could possibly go wrong?” That’s when Nick Rossi, the boy who broke her heart years ago, walks back into town.
‘Where the Rhythm Takes You’ by Sarah Dass
Two years ago, Reyna lost two people close to her–her mother died, and her first love left their hometown. Now she’s running the family’s resort, the Plumeria. Out of the blue, her first love comes sauntering right back into town with his band and a possible girlfriend. And he’s staying at the Plumeria.
When I picked up this book, I had no idea what it was about. All I knew was the cover had pretty colors, and I liked the title. But I am so happy I went in blind. Where the Rhythm Takes You is a Persuasion retelling. It also includes a music playlist at the end.
‘A Lot Like Adiós’ by Alexis Daria
Thirteen years ago, Michelle’s only love, Gabriel, walked out of her life. Now, she’s spending her time working as a freelance graphic designer while her family hounds her about marriage. But Gabriel is back, asking for her help with a marketing campaign. Will it be happily ever after, or will they flame out again?
A Lot Like Adiós is the second in The Primas of Power series, but like most others on this list, it can be read as a standalone. But trust me, you won’t want to stop with just one book by Alexis Daria. The series started with You Had Me at Hola, and a third book is still on the way.
‘You Deserve Each Other’ by Sarah Hogle
I didn’t know I needed this book until after reading it. Prank wars, falling back in love, and an impending deadline; what more could I want from a romance novel? Seriously, you need to read this book.
Naomi and Nicholas are miserable despite looking perfect on the surface. When they both realize neither wants to stay together (but also don’t want to foot the nonrefundable bill for the wedding), they start a prank war to get the other to break first. But as the days count down and neither holds back, they realize they’re actually having fun.
‘Love and Other Words’ by Christina Lauren
Macy’s life is perfectly curated, from her career to her love life. But all that comes crashing down around her when her first love, Elliot Petropoulos, enters her life again. As you read this novel, you’ll switch between then and now. “Then” follows the budding romance of Elliot and Macy; “Now” is about Macy and Elliot trying to move on from the past.
Christina Lauren is the queen of romance right now, so of course, I had to mention one of her books. As her first fiction novel (and the fact it fit the second-chance romance trope), I thought Love and Other Words was the perfect way to end this list. I wonder what other tropes I’ve been missing in her other books.