4 sapphic second chance romances | F/F February 2021

8th February 2021
second chances chace verity beyond a bookshelf

To celebrate F/F February 2021 here on Beyond A Bookshelf, we have collaborated with fellow bloggers, authors and creators to provide sapphic guest content, recommendations and interviews constantly through the month. If you’ve stumbled across this post by accident, you can find out more about F/F February in our announcement post. Furthermore, if you’re in the market for a new sapphic read (and you don’t find what you’re after below), we have a masterlist of almost 200 books which feature WLW characters and F/F relationships.

Tomorrow Second Chances, a sapphic romance anthology, edited by Chace Verity releases. We invited Chace and their fellow authors to talk to us about why the second chance romance trope spoke to them, and give us some examples of ‘if you like this book, you should pick up Second Chances‘!


Why second chances?

From Chace Verity, editor of the anthology and author of The (Virtual) Bodyguard

Like everyone else, 2020 was a hard year for me. 2021 is my year of second chances.

An especially difficult moment from last year came when I realized I needed to give up on some important things. My heart broke in anguish and fury when I set fire to the bridges I needed to burn. While I wish I could be more specific, it’s still just too soon for me to talk about the pain.

What I can talk about is pursuing passion projects, which is basically what Second Chances is. While I was busy dealing with my grief, I started thinking about creative projects I wanted to do. Not trends to chase or boxes to fit myself in–stories that would allow me to dream again. Editing an anthology was one of those ideas that I decided to pursue.

My favorite flavor of second chance is when it has a hint of enemies to lovers. I’ve seen this called the, “Oh, no, not you,” trope, and I can’t get enough of it!

Leigh Landry, author of Out For Delivery

Why second chances? It felt pretty natural to me, considering how close I had been to abandoning everything related to writing. Second chance romance is a trope that focuses on more than the romance itself–often the leads are in need of another opportunity somewhere else in their lives. When they fix themselves, they figure out how to fix their relationship. It’s a trope that lends to some of the most beautiful and rewarding moments in literature. As a messy person myself, I love it when messy people get happy endings.

Since I was going through a hard time, I had to be honest when I approached the authors I wanted to invite. They were friends who had seen me through good times and bad ones. I confessed I had no right to ask them to hop on when my train was blazing, but they were writers who were good at giving messy people happy endings. It was imperative I embark on a new challenge with people who would understand my vision for the anthology.

Figuring out how your life might have changed, or could change, if you figured yourself out at the right time is a big theme in ‘The Best Places’. I loved getting to play with the “what if’s” that tie into any second chance story.

Candace Harper, author of The Best Places

To my surprise, the people I wanted to join me for the ride did. 2020 was a hard year for my contributors too. They were also looking for second chances, albeit in different ways from me. Leigh Landry blended mystery and romance together, Dee Holloway gave the trope a flowery lit-fic spin, Candace Harper dove deep into home and family themes, and I explored how real online relationships can get. Our stories are so different from each other, but they all end with characters who have healed enough from their pain to move forward to the next part of their lives.

This anthology allowed us all to unleash some stress and find some healing. Every time someone emailed me about anything at all, I felt like I was doing something right. It had been so long since I felt like I was doing the right thing. I had no idea a passion project could be so rewarding.

Second chances can be a reset button or a way to make amends. Second chances can be deserved–or not. Second chances land hardest when both parties want them… and need them.

Dee Holloway, author of Your Mess is Mine

Once Second Chances releases, I am going to spend some time inhaling passion projects. Drafting weird stories I’m interested in, unearthing projects I thought wouldn’t be marketable, and so forth. Alyssa Cole once said a live chat, “If it makes me happy, it can make others happy.” That is the exact energy I plan to carry into my future works (and I have it pinned to my board to remind me).

2021 is my year to fall in love with writing again. I can’t say for sure what’ll come next from me, but I’m excited to find out.

I’m a sucker for second chance stories, so I was thrilled to write one for this anthology. My favorite flavor of second chance is when it has a hint of enemies to lovers. I’ve seen this called the, “Oh, no, not you,” trope, and I can’t get enough of it! I love watching characters squirm because they hate that they still have feelings for someone they’ve tried desperately to get over. Especially if they thought they were already over this person, but SURPRISE, those feelings are still there. Sometimes stronger than ever.

In Out For Delivery, I knew I wanted this second chance to tackle trust and how (or even if) a couple can overcome broken promises in particular. I also love playing with the opposites attract trope. Some opposing characteristics in a relationship, particularly when values are concerned, can’t (and usually shouldn’t) be smoothed over. But I like to play with very specific conflicting personality traits—creating characters that want the same things or have similar values, but who approach the world in different ways. This presents a lot of fun opportunities for them to get under each other’s skin, but it also provides space for growth and for each character to see the world differently.

As much as I love mystery stories—all kinds, but especially lighter mysteries that fall closer to the cozy end—I didn’t actually set out to write one this time. Like Susan’s surprise, the dead guy just showed up in my story truck!

I love the puzzle of combining mystery with romance. There’s something so delicious about mixing the twists and turns of a mystery plot with the twists and turns of a relationship. One of the first romances I ever read was Welcome to Temptation, by Jennifer Crusie. When I hit the mystery plot in that book, my brain exploded with the idea that I could have both mystery and a fully formed romance arc in the same book, and I’ve been chasing that high ever since. And I definitely want to read more sapphic romances with fun mystery plots!

Out For Delivery is a second chance, opposites attract romantic mystery packed with juicy banter and dark humor. Readers who like women with a strong sense of responsibility or a weakness for dogs and fierce loyalty in the face of a potential murder charge will enjoy this ride with Susan and Casey through New Orleans’s Seventh Ward.

When Chace told me the theme of this anthology was second chances, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. Most second chance stories revolve around a couple that has already given love a shot, but in every relationship I’ve been in, we broke up for a good reason. Instead, I chose to focus more on a missed opportunity that is very familiar in my life.

Unlike many people’s “born this way” narratives, I didn’t realize what my queerness was until I was in my early twenties. I had always thought people were beautiful, but being autistic and artistic, I’d just thought I liked them aesthetically. I didn’t have sexual feelings towards anyone, so I was just straight like everyone else was, right? Wrong.

When I learned the word asexual, and realized that I could find every gender attractive without necessarily being sexually attracted to them, it was like the world opened up around me. I found my labels and everything made sense. It’s been a while since then, and I’ve had time to think about it. Now that I know more about who I am and how I view relationships, it became clear that quite a few of my more intimate with my female friends were probably closer to a romantic relationship or a queerplatonic relationship than a friendship.

I wondered what it would be like to get back in touch with some of those people and see if some of that spark still remained. That, tied with Taylor Swift’s song Last Great American Dynasty, really inspired this story.

Figuring out how your life might have changed, or could change, if you figured yourself out at the right time is a big theme in The Best Places. I loved getting to play with the “what if’s” that tie into any second chance story.

Obviously, I’m biased, but I really love the way that Rebecca and Rosalyn grow back into each other’s lives and get their second chance. Hopefully, you’ll like that, too!

Second chances mean a lot to me, as someone who’s constantly finding herself reborn, bewildered and excited, unsure how she wound up reviewing comics, hanging on the fence at the local racetrack, or dating a woman for the first time. Second chances can be a reset button or a way to make amends. Second chances can be deserved–or not. Second chances land hardest when both parties want them… and need them.

If second chances is the ur-trope of Your Mess Is Mine, the fulcrum around which the story spins, then the rest of the spokes are composed of things like cottagecore but make it queer, and butch/femme, and best friend’s sister. Queer romance is a fertile breeding ground for trope-freshening, the ideal opportunity to take well-beloved and familiar tropes gleaned from our wastrel teen years spent furtively peeking at Harlequins and turn them inside out.

During the 2020 Pandemic Spring, soft and earthy aesthetics bloomed across the Internet as people tried to stay connected through sourdough-starter recipe swapping, apartment gardening tips, and a new embrace of outdoor spaces in cities and suburbs alike. To my city-bi sensibilities, the popular butch/femme trope took on thrilling new angles when a cottagecore lesbian like love interest Tansy–curvy and floral-scented and wrapped in cozy knits–knocked up against heroine Trace’s sharp tattoos, wood-chopping forearms, and barn full of tools. The re-entry into a small town of someone the narrator hasn’t seen in years is classic romance fodder of the type showcased in Sweet Home Alabama and Robin Carr novels. An underlayer to second chances is often forced proximity–and while Trace never finds herself snowbound in a cabin with Tansy, the emotional and physical Venn diagrams of the two women encroach on one another until a circle is formed.

A real-life trope of women-loving-women and other queer communities is that these groups are so often circumscribed. In small cities, let alone small towns, the dating pool looks about the same as the friends you hang out with for book club and craft brews. A constant flow of rewriting attractions, exploring relationships, and defining boundaries takes place. In the case of Your Mess Is Mine, Tansy is the sister of Trace’s best friend Colt, someone both of them were once close to. The tension of knitting frayed relationships into new shapes drives the story toward not only Tansy and Trace’s romantic future, but Tansy and Colt’s family reunion.

The confusion of lingering, unresolved feelings and the tentative hope of building a new relationship on the foundation of an old one might be familiar to many queer readers. The choice to make your own family, the ability to forge a new career beyond difficulties with school and mental health, the life that unfolds after discovering truths about your gender or sexuality–these are the second chances that queer people deserve.

I hope you find yourself in one of these characters.

If you like these, you should pick up Second Chances


About the authors

Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although queer friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”

Candace Harper is a queer, neurodivergent woman living with her partner, two cats and a dog in the PNW.

Dee Holloway is a librarian and writer interested in serving diverse populations, bridging gaps between academia and the public, and making education available to everyone. As a writer, she loves crafting worlds almost like ours but steeped in the strange, horses, and girlfriends. Lots of girlfriends.

Leigh Landry is a contemporary romance author who loves stories with happy endings, supportive friendships, and adorable pets. Once a musician, freelance writer, and English teacher, Leigh now spends her days writing and volunteering at an animal rescue center. She lives with her husband, their two children, two dogs, two cats, and an endless supply of foster kittens in the Heart of Cajun Country.

Cover o Second Chances: a sapphic romance anthology by Chace Verity

Second Chances by Chace Verity (ed.)

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Synopsis

Second chances–are they always deserved? This collection of contemporary romance stories explores the different ways women can be messy and still find a happy ending. Featuring stories from Candace Harper, Leigh Landry, Dee Holloway, and Chace Verity (ed.).

Available February 09, 2021! .99 CENTS PREORDER SPECIAL! (will go up to $3.99 on February 10) Paperbacks will available on release day.


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Please note: affiliate links may be used in this post and will be marked with an asterisk. This means that if you purchase a book using this link, we receive a small commission in exchange.

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