Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson (Whitney Finalist 2013)

Title: Second Chances
Author: Melanie Jacobson
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Digital Copy
This book would be rated: PG

Louisa Gibson lives in Southern California, where there the LDS dating scene is hopping. But she and her friends have found that although they might go on lots of dates, these dates rarely progress to relationships. In fact, Louisa hasn't had a serious relationship since she broke up with Nick, a shallow actor, several years earlier. Lou is also trying to start her own marketing firm, and she has a brilliant idea to capitalize on the dating scene and the job situation-- she'll film webcasts of a show based on The Bachelor, where all of the cast members are Mormon. But days before the show is scheduled to start filming, her bachelor backs out, and Lou's partner recruits Nick to step in.

What happens next comes as a surprise to no one but Lou, who finds herself behind the camera on Nick's dates, realizing that she wants to be the one he's wooing.

Jacobson really has her finger on the pulse of the modern Mormon romance. She captures the dialogue of twentysomethings, she uses the right pop culture references, she's funny, and she integrates Mormon culture in a way that feels natural and right. The books will undoubtedly feel dated in a couple of decades, but who cares? They'll represent how things were in a certain time and place. While the reader knows from the moment Nick agrees to become the bachelor that he and Lou will end up together, what makes the story great is that Lou doesn't know it, and since the story is told from her point of view, we're able to experience all of her anticipation and pain as she watches Nick date a different woman each night. Jacobson also does a great job showing growth in both characters-- in Nick over the years when he and Lou were broken up and Lou coming to some self-realization during the course of the narrative.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Melanie Jacobson's work. Two years ago, she had two finalists in the Romance category (The List-- of which Second Chances is a spin-off and Not My Type) and for me, the voting came down to Jacobson v. Jacobson. Last year, she had two more funny, smart, adorable finalists (Twitterpated and Smart Move), and once again, readers must have split their votes. This year, with one finalist, I'm really hoping that it's her year. Fingers crossed!

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