A Second Chance
About the Book:
Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.
Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.
Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.
About the Author:
Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer who loves the art of storytelling. My love for music is as deep as my passion for the written word. I’m a total foodie and love enjoying the food in cafes and restaurants located throughout my favorite cities!
How long have you been writing?
Since age 9 when I wrote my first story about two girls who were sisters.
Why did you start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
Since writing my first story at age 9, I knew that I wanted to be a writer.
How much research do you usually put into your books?
My first book, Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, was written without any real research done beforehand. But my new novella, A Second Chance, required research for the scene where Marc’s sister Gina is hospitalized. I spoke with a real-life ER doctor to make sure that I described the scene accurately in terms of making it true to real life, especially with the medical terminologies that I needed to describe Gina’s injuries.
What do you do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m working out, reading, blogging, cooking, eating, and spending time with loved ones.
What is your writing process? Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits?
Honestly, I’m still working on having a solid writing schedule. I think that these days I spend more time blogging than I spend writing books. But I’m trying to reach the point where I spend time writing at least 2,000 words every weekday. It’s a goal that I have not achieved yet because I have been only writing when inspiration hits.
What keeps you motivated?
My faith in God and His promises in The Holy Bible, such as Jeremiah 29:11.
Was there anything in particular that was special or unique about the process of writing this book that you'd like to share?
I’d love to share the fact that this book was re-written twice: I re-wrote it from beginning to end once then re-wrote it from the middle to the end. After a final proofread, it was published. The re-writing process made me stronger as a writer and made the story solid.
Is there anything that you learned during the process of writing and publishing?
Yes! Re-writes are important because as my book editor says, “A story can always be better!” I learned to let go of the idea that my first or even second draft of my manuscript is perfect. As a writer who edits as she writes her stories and is very much a perfectionist, re-writing my manuscript felt overwhelming at first but it was worthwhile and made my story stronger. So I am grateful for my God-sent editor who mentored me through this process.
Which are you - pantser or plotter?
I’m a total pantser! I love plotting as I write. It’s like going on a spontaneous adventure with my characters because I never know what happens next until I start writing each scene. I like to write my stories in the way that I’d like to see it play out on a TV show or movie.
Are you planning any other books?
Yes! I’m working on a book about a fictional five-star quality bakery in the heart of a major city with a focus on the characters that love it. Another story that I’m writing is about a wedding photographer who’s never been in love.
This book falls quite clearly under the contemporary Christian romance genre, which I rarely read these days. I thought it'd be fun to give it another go, but I'll be honest. I didn't love this book.
The characters were probably the strongest point. As people, I felt they were unique individuals, and I appreciated that the best friends were written (I think) to be Latinx. I especially liked the love interest's niece and nephew. Each main character had a solid network of friends and family outside each other, which is often lacking in romance novels. That independence, present more towards the beginning of the story, was valuable.
However, the plot leaves a lot to be desired. I felt like most of the controversy and drama was contrived. Honestly, it felt to me like the biggest roadblocks to the happily ever after were the characters making ridiculous mountains out of basic miscommunications.
The romance felt off, too. I think the biggest weakness here is a lack of show, don't tell. Past the halfway point of the book, Marc and Traci start to reference things they know about each other, but we never got to see them learning those things. They talk about their feelings, but we didn't see those feelings develop—they just sort of popped into existence.
This ties into pacing problems. Marc and Traci seem smitten with each other before they've even spoken. Not just "oh, he's cute"—no, I mean imagining a future family smitten. This over-the-top emoting gets worse after their actual first date. Then we skip ahead to all the Big Plot Drama, when what we (or at least I) really want to see is their blossoming relationship. Not to mention, both main characters and their best friends take minor miscommunications or potential concerns wayyyyyy too seriously without actually discussing things through.
Another issue I found was that exposition was handled poorly. Information that should have been built up to was dropped at the beginning, and things that were built up either took too long to reveal or felt unsatisfying or incomplete when they were brought up. There's never actually any discussion about the best friend with whom Traci's finance ran away. Similarly, we're told over and over that Marc's exes have hurt him, but we never learn details.
I think this book has merit. I think the characters are real enough to shine, when given the chance. But I felt like they were being led from Point A to Point B through a preconceived outline, in a story that made little sense most of the time. If the story focused less on their needs for a "second chance" or all the reasons they wouldn't work (which seemed blown out of proportion to me), then Marc and Traci's actual romance could have been something beautiful.
I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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