After reading a series of intensive, high-octane thrillers in the past weeks, Jill Weatherholt’s  ’Second Chance Romance’ proved just the tonic I needed to relax and return to earth.

In this heart-warming novel published by Harlequin Love Inspired, Jackson Daughtry, a single father of five-year-old Rebecca, one morning comes to the rescue of Melanie Harper. She hit a tree whilst swerving to avoid a deer and Jackson’s paramedic skills come to good use as he helps her out of the car and then to the hospital. From this very first meeting, their lives are interwoven and irrevocably changed. 

Melanie is the niece of the very popular Phoebe Austin, Jackson’s business partner to the local cafe The Bean and since the death of his parents, Phoebe has been like family to him. Melanie wants her aunt to move with her to Washington, DC., which causes conflict for everyone concerned.

As a divorce attorney in the capital Melanie is a city girl through and through. However, the tragedy which struck her life a year earlier had resulted in her retreating into herself in the isolated, uncaring environment of urban life. When faced with the beauty and wondrous landscape of idyllic and harmonious Sweet Gum in the Shenandoah Valley she gradually opens up emotionally. The setting becomes an intrinsic part of the novel and the friendly, caring attitude of the community is sensitively and memorably portrayed.

The novel is told in the third person switching with ease and skill between the two main protagonists and ultimately allowing us closer access to their thoughts and feelings.

Being a romantic novel, the frisson between Jackson and Melanie is at the core of the story; its intensity and the continual emotional rollercoaster between them makes this a most compelling, addictive read. Whilst attracted to each other, they deny these feelings to themselves as differences over many issues makes any future seem untenable. Just as Melanie comes out of the hospital, Aunt Phoebe suffers a stroke and whilst she recuperates, the running of the cafe falls to Melanie and Jackson.  The past haunts them both more than ever when faced with working together each day and confronting their traumas.

Having been left to raise his daughter four years earlier when he was abandoned by his wife, Jackson finds it difficult to trust anyone. Meanwhile, Melanie is still lost to herself and the world following overwhelming grief…a tragedy that is only slowly revealed. Whilst  Jackson finds solace in his faith, Melanie lost hers. 

Faith is one of several deep and thought-provoking themes examined and woven into the narrative. Grief, fear, forgiveness and love are all seamlessly arced across the novel and hidden within the more everyday events. These include such gentle, seemingly inconsequential happenings such as a fair, apple picking, picnic and baking, which are all exquisitely described and very much part of the homily Mills & Boon genre. Numerous sub-plots such as the menacing return of woman long since disappeared and the romantic possibilities for Aunt Phoebe bolster the main story.

For me the star of this book is Rebecca, Jackson’s daughter – she instantly won a place in my heart! Her warm loving personality, belief and innate wisdom is brilliantly captured and helps unravel the darkness of sorrow within Melanie; I can just imagine the powerful impact of the hugs from this little girl. The reader’s instant affection for Rebecca only heightens the tension and drama as she faces danger and the possibility of being lost to them forever.

Although an easy read with a welcome escapist element, this is a well-crafted and written novel with a perfect fusion of romance and drama; I quickly became engrossed in the lives of all the characters and I didn’t want to leave my new friends as the novel came to an end.

Rating:                   4 out of 5 stars

Available from   Amazon US   or  Amazon UK



  1. Pingback: Bits of Joy – Natalie the Explorer

  2. Ohhhh it sounds like a great “getaway” book ~ I look forward to reading it! How nice to see Jill’s work in the spotlight. Well done with the way you wrote the review too, Annika. I hope you have a nice weekend xx

    1. Thank you, Christy and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! 😀 Just perfect for a ‘getaway’ – are you going on one soon? Wishing you a lovely weekend too…with many quiet moments for peaceful enthralling books! 📖📚❤️

  3. Mike

    After reading your review Annika you have sold me on this book. You certainly haven’t given too much away, but enough to whet the appetite to want to read more. Definitely one for my to read list.


    1. That’s great, Mike and many thanks – as with all reviews it’s always a tricky balance to explain and give my feelings about the book without telling too much of the story. So glad to have sold you on the book! 😀 Enjoy and do say what you think of it! 📖📚

  4. I was lucky enough to read Jill’s book several months ago, and you are spot on with your review. Similar to you, I had read several suspense novels before I reached for Jill’s book. The pace and the lovely tenor of it was just what I needed. Of course the reader roots for the characters all through the pages. 💚

    1. Pam, that is what is great about books like this…you’re cheering on the main character from the very beginning and wondering how they will get to the happy ending and what obstacles they will face on the way. So happy you liked the review and found it matched your feelings about Jill’s book! 😃

    1. Lana, were you spying on me?! 😀 I read this over a couple of long lunches on the swing bench outside…after the wonderful descriptions I wish I could travel to the area and see it for myself…I had to make do with google images! 😀

  5. Great review, Annika! We get a good sense of the main characters, and that’s why we like to read stories, right? 🙂 This sounds like a wonderful feel-good story that would be great as beach-side reading. I’m not one for romance so much, but I might have to check it out. 🙂

    1. Julie, you’re right about the characters being one of the critical components of books and in Jill’s I got to know and care for the main characters very early on. I’ve been on the look-out to read less intensive books in recent weeks and this was just perfect…and I definitely look forward to her one!😀 See what you think if you get a chance…

    1. Lost is just the word, Sue! 😀 I became so immersed in all their lives that I’d suddenly look up and be confused where I was (often on the swing bench with a lunch snack!). A joy to share here and do enjoy if you read it. Many thanks for your lovely comment. xx

      1. One of the things I would often do as a young teenager was get lost in books.. My all time favourites were not the modern day romances as much as the historical period romance.. I would get lost is long gowns and lace :-), I also loved reading all of Catherine Cookson books. 🙂 again thanks you for sharing 🙂

        1. I think it’s difficult to recapture that total childhood immersion in books of young as responsibilities of adulthood take over…yet some books come close and this one is such an example! 😀

  6. Great to read a review of Jill’s book, Annika. 🙂 🙂 It’s always interesting when it’s someone you follow and have got to know a little. So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing. It sounds like a good read.

    1. Thank you, Jo! 😀 Glad this gives you an insight into Jill and her book…it’s always a bit nerve-racking writing reviews about books by people I know! 😀Definitely a lovely read and highly recommended if you like anything in this type of genre.

  7. This is a lovely review, Annika! I love romance, but I also like real stories, not all happily-ever-after, sappy books. Jill’s novel sounds like it encompasses many different aspects of life and not all rosy. Currently, I’m reading the Harry Potter series that my kids (young adults now) have nudged me over the years to read. I finally consented, since wizardry and magic aren’t my usual reading genres. With that being said, I’m truly enjoying them, and I’m on book #5. Better late than never, right? 🙂 Anyway, I’m going to add Jill’s book to my list of reading for when I have left Hogwarts. Thanks so much for sharing her novel and for your wonderful review.
    ~Lauren ❤

    1. Lauren, you’re doing better than me! 😀 I quietly have to admit to never having read Harry Potter…I’m almost scared to say this! Many years ago I started the first one but half-way through it still hadn’t grabbed my interest…maybe I would feel differently now. Well done for reading them all and brilliant that you’re hooked…though I imagine a calm quiet read such as Jill’s might be a welcome change after the series! 😀❤️

      1. That’s exactly how I was when the series first came out, but now I’m really enjoying her writing and imagination. However, Jill’s book will be a nice change once I’m finished. 😊💗

  8. A beautiful review of Jill’s book, Annika. You do such a good job connecting us with the characters, drawing us into the story and covering all the elements of the read. Congrats to Jill and great luck with her book. 🙂

    1. Diana, thank you so much! 😀 I always want to bring the various elements into my reviews whilst not giving away too much of the story…it means a lot to me that you think I’ve achieved this!

  9. A brilliant review Annika…the one, which would inspire any reader to pick up this book. I gave up reading romantic novels long ago but your review is impelling me towards this one! More than a romantic novel, this seems to be blending in the real life problems we all can relate with. I’ll check it out. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Reviews do help to make a better choice.

    1. Balroop, thank you so very much for your lovely and thoughtful comment! 🌻 You are so right how this book confronts real-life problems…daring to not be over-dramatic or unrealistic…and this element makes is relevant to us all. Everyone is very particular to the genres they read but it can be fun and rewarding to step of the norm and I definitely found this with Jill’s book. Book buying has changed so much in recent years, where before I relied on book blurbs, book reviews now lead the way – great there are so many about!😃

          1. It was a lovely review, Jill and a great reminder for me to post on Goodreads! I’ve already put this on Amazon UK – the first one there and under the name I use on Amazon of ‘Cassie’.

        1. Ahh…I’ve just read your review and I see what you mean…Rebecca really does have the ability to melt hearts – not just Jackson’s and Melanie’s. Your review is lovely and captures the essence of the story perfectly – thank you for sharing the link and a reminder for me to post on Goodreads!

  10. Annika, thank you so much for your wonderful review. ❤ I had no idea you read, Second Chance Romance…I'm honored. I'm so happy you enjoyed the story and connected with Rebecca. I enjoyed writing her scenes and I missed her once the story was completed. Thank you again, sweet friend! xo

    1. You’re very welcome, Jill! 😀 This was a joy to read and review. I actually bought the book in late Spring but it disappeared into the ether of my kindle…so happy to come across it last week. Aww…I can totally understand how you must have missed Rebecca once you’d finished the book. Could she feature in a sequel I wonder?? Hope you’re having a peaceful Sunday. hugs xx❤️

  11. Well written review Annika and the story sounds lovely. I went through a stage years ago where I read nothing but romances, then I switched to thrillers which I really loved. But now I think, like you, it might be time for some soft reading again. Thanks for the inspiration. 💕
    How did the piano lesson go?

    1. Many thanks, Miriam and so glad you enjoyed the review…definitely perfect for a light romantic read! 😀I also tend to go through phases of book genre and at the moment I’m thrilled-out and reading anything else! This morning I went to the music school to book the piano lessons but the lady in charge is out so she’s calling next week – I’m ridiculously excited…thank you for nudging me go ahead with these!! ❤️

  12. “Perfect fusion of romance and drama” – I really feel I could do with a book like this now.
    Life is not always about high octane drama, most of us lead a life with a mix of dramas and hopefully romance too.😊 .
    A wonderfully written review, I am already pondering what the darkness and sorrow within Melanie is? The little girl Rebecca comes as the Ray of sunshine only children can.

    I will actually read this one. Will check out Amazon today.
    Thank you Annika and good luck to you Jill

    1. Miriam, it’s odd how many feel in need of a book like this at the moment – maybe just a way to have a break from the trauma in the world for a while? I’m so happy you enjoyed the review and are buying the book – do please let me know what you think of it afterward. As always it’s tricky of how much to give away in a review…you will learn all about Melanie and her tragedy soon enough…enjoy! 😀❤️ I have a feeling Rebecca is already starting to take hold of your heart!

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