Evie Grant, widowed and with children who have other holiday plans, is facing the prospect of a lonely Christmas. However, after brazenly quitting her job, she embarks with her best friend on a visit to her sister in New York City. Determined to make the most of the hustle and bustle, she almost immediately runs into Daniel Roberts, a former college boyfriend … who also happens to now be a famous actor. As his world of Hollywood clashes with her own steady, peaceful life, Evie must face her past and the potential for a new beginning.
The City of Second Chances opens with a bit of an explosion—multiple bodies are found in a deserted cabin in New York. Evie believes there’s a chance one of the victims is her friend, Olivia, who disappeared on holiday twenty years previously.
It’s a shocking beginning, but brilliant. Author Jane Lacey-Crane has dished up a masterful romance that isn’t afraid to examine the realities of depression and anxiety. She lays it all out right in the beginning—Evie has never really gotten over the disappearance of Olivia, a situation which was exacerbated by the death of her husband, Tom. It drives the beginning of the plot, and her intense need to get to New York is palpable on the page.
Even after arriving to the city, Lacey-Crane returns to the tragedies. These scenes where Evie attempts to reconcile them against her mostly happy life are some of the most gripping in the book. Particularly, an early moment between her and a diner server, Judy, is a highlight, and the personal wisdom passed between the two reads like a literary hug.
This all sounds heavy, and it is, but that’s not to suggest there isn’t a bit of fun and fluff. In fact, it’s damn funny. After all, Evie is looking for an escape for the holidays. Fortunately, her best friend Rachel comes along for the ride, and she likes nothing better than a good drink and a day shopping. However, it’s her sister, Kate, who lands most of the attention. It’s a heartwarming relationship, and anyone with a sibling will be able to appreciate their playful banter and barbs.
Of course, there’s also the romance aspect and, while this review has skirted around it, it plays a starring role. Daniel is a charming leading man, though external forces create tension for the pair. This was another great aspect—the conflict is completely believable and frustrating. However, Daniel performs some downright swoon-worthy actions, though I won’t spoil them.
It’s just refreshing to read a romance with so much honesty about personal mental health. Lacey-Crane is an absolutely wonderful writer with an original voice. While Evie introspects, it’s impossible not to get sucked into her world, rooting for her to discover whatever answers and closure she needs. And if she gets the man, all the better.
Title: The City of Second Chances
Author: Jane Lacey Crane
Publication Date: December 11, 2018
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.