Have always loved romance fiction, especially historical romances, and now have discovered paranormal and all kinds of different scenarios. After all, romance told against any background and in any configuration is grand!
Writer Lauren Dane has given us a novel about a woman who has returned to her hometown after a decade of finding herself, emerging as a whole person, recovering from her mother's imposed image of her, developing her skills as a writer of note, and re-establishing her life after a painful break-up with her ex who had betrayed her. Now Rori is becoming re-acquainted with old friends, enjoying sibling togetherness with her sister, her brother-in-law, and her nephews, and even hooking up with a guy or two who would not have even given her a second look ten years earlier. Her dream date Jude, a guy who had been one of the few who had even bothered to get to know her in years past and about whom she had fantasized for years, latches on to her immediately, and their connection is hot and intense. But Jude likes to play the field, surrounding him with lots of women--even telling Rori up front that he was seeing other girls. But after some uncomfortable encounters with Jude's other interests, Rori decides that she just can't be in any kind of relationship with him. For a time their friendship was even in doubt.
On the same night Rori jetisons Jude from her life and from her bed, she meets the brother of one of her old friends, Zach Helm, a good-looking, caring, intense, and dominant young man who believes almost immediately that he has met "his woman." He introduces Rori to the BDSM lifestyle in the bedroom, and she discovers that this new kind of relating answers some long-standing questions about her deepest, darkest needs and urges. Their relationship grows into love and they eventually marry about a year after they meet. Jude is devastated because he knows he has lost Rori, the woman for whom he has been searching for years, completely due to his immaturity and foolishness. Not having Rori causes him to face himself and to grow up, and he knows that he will always love her. However, he is willing to have her friendship and Zach's as well if he can't have her love.
This story is about love lost and won, joy and disappointment, grieving and renewal. The characters are real and believable. It is full of friendship, family, and fun. Rori has become a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, enjoying the BDSM and the way it fulfills her, but not reluctant to set some boundaries that are necessary to her self-perception. She even takes on her own mother lovingly, declaring her independence from parental judment and criticism that has oppressed her for years. Zach and Jude are both strong, dominant, Alpha kind of guys, men of honor and great depth, not afraid for someone to see gentleness as well as strength. And you have to love her sister Kelly, who with her husband Mac, form a circle of support and acceptance that keeps Rori balanced and whole. In so many ways and on so many levels this novel is about a journey of discovery for Rori, Zach and Jude. Each discovers important aspects about themselves as they grow into really wonderful people, accepting the limits of their relationships with one another, respecting those boundaries.
Romance fans will find this novel truly satisfying--lots of hot loving and warm fuzzies. There are emotional ups and downs galore, twists and turns in the storyline that keep the reader moving on to the next page. I couldn't put it down--read it all in one sitting. Ms Dane has demonstrated considerable flare in putting this work together--good plot, interesting storyline, strong characters that the reader can relate to, a great ending, and enough surprises to keep any reader's interest. It is the stuff of which good fiction is made. All in all, it is a terrific read. I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5.
Second Chances will be released by Carina Press in November, 2010.