Another Chance at Happiness by Dani Phoenix

4 Stars

Publisher: Dani Phoenix

Date of publication: August 24th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Trigger Warnings: Cheating, Divorce, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical child abuse, video game addiction, attempted parental alienation

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Newly independent after a long-awaited divorce from an emotionally abusive husband, LELA is finally following her dreams. She reaches out to her former lover, NATHAN, to inspect her potential B&B purchase. Months later, he appears with startling news of his own impending divorce. Lela grabs at this chance to be with him but soon discovers her insecurities, his guilt, his wife’s underhanded manipulations, and his family’s firm feelings about his marriage and their relationship threaten their chance at happiness.

Trapped in an unfulfilling marriage with a wife who criticizes and rejects him, Nathan struggles with pride and feelings of failure both as a husband and as a father. He willingly sacrifices his own happiness for his boys and his faith; however, the sudden revelation of his wife’s own infidelity gives him the push he needs to seek out his own happiness, with Lela.

First Line:

Rolling the stem of her martini glass between her fingers, Lela readjusted her legs, tucking her left underneath her right.

Another Chance at Happiness by Dani Phoenix

Lela is happy to start over after her divorce from her husband. Running a bed and breakfast has always been a dream of hers. When the property needs inspection, Lela immediately thinks of her ex-lover, Nathan, and contracts him to do the job. What she wasn’t expecting, or wanting, was her feelings for Nathan to return or for them to start a relationship again.

Nathan is struggling. He is married to a woman who constantly puts him down and criticizes everything he does. Nathan feels he has failed in his duty as a father, a husband, and a Christian. He is unwilling to divorce since it goes against his religion, and he feels stuck. The only time Nathan truly felt himself was when he was with Lela. So when he discovers his wife has been cheating on him and she wants a divorce, he thinks he can start a relationship with Lela. As Lela and Nathan get closer, the more Nathan’s ex-wife tries to drive a wedge between them. Will Nathan and Lela ever get their shot at happiness? Or will Nathan’s family and ex-wife succeed in ruining their happiness forever?

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started reading Another Chance at Happiness. From the blurb, I knew it was a second-chance romance with Christian themes. I wasn’t expecting this book to affect me so much. I was in tears for more than half the book because I could relate to what Nathan’s children were going through. I was also in tears for Lela because she got the short end of the stick in everything.

There are trigger warnings in Another Chance at Happiness. They are:

  1. Cheating— Nathan and Lela cheated on their spouses with each other and other people (on and off page). Lela’s husband cheated on her (which led to their divorce and off page), and Nathan’s wife cheated on Nathan (on page).
  2. Divorce—Lela has been divorced from her husband for a while (off-page). Nathan is separated from his wife at the beginning of the book and is waiting for her to sign the papers (on page).
  3. Verbal AbuseLela’s mother verbally abused her when she was younger (on page but through memory). Her husband verbally abused her and her children (off-page). Nathan’s wife and father verbally abused Nathan (both off and on page).
  4. Emotional AbuseLela’s mother emotionally abused her (on page but through memory). Nathan’s wife emotionally abused him (off and on page).
  5. Physical Child AbuseLela’s mother physically abused her (on page but through memory).
  6. Video Game AddictionLela’s husband was addicted to playing video games and would neglect his kids while Lela was out (on page but through memory)
  7. Attempted Parental Alienation—Throughout the book, Nathan’s wife tries to alienate his children from him (on and off page). At one point in the book, Nathan’s family joins in (off-page).

If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book.

Another Chance at Happiness is a medium to a fast-paced book set in Colorado. About 90% of this book takes place in Lela’s bed and breakfast, with some scenes set in the Rockies and at Nathan’s house.

This book deals with serious issues, and the author wastes no time diving in. The main storyline centers around Lela and Nathan’s relationship (past and present), Nathan’s relationship with his wife, and Lela running her bed and breakfast. The author doesn’t hide or make excuses for Nathan and Lela’s past relationship or how it ended. The way she presented it was two unhappy people looking for happiness. But I did lift an eyebrow at how they connected. Come on, Craigslist? Lela and Nathan’s relationship was very rocky in the past and the present. Mainly because Nathan’s ex-wife was playing games with him. Poor Nathan felt he had to walk on eggshells around her because she threatened to pull visitation with his sons.

I couldn’t believe how awful Nathan’s wife was. She completely tore this guy down to the point where he didn’t have self-esteem (the body hair comments hurt me to read). Now, Nathan was a cheater, but his wife acted awful. She conveniently forgot that she cheated too, and not only that but she got caught. She was nasty towards Lela (the voice messages and the false reviews left on her B&B’s site) and would flex her control over the kids and Nathan. I seriously wanted to punch her. But she crossed the line when she got Nathan’s family involved. That was the nastiest, most uncomfortable Thanksgiving scene I have ever read. It was followed up by Nathan’s sister’s visit to Lela, and the ultimation Lela was given.

I also couldn’t get over how willing Nathan’s wife was to use their children as pawns. She would undermine everything Nathan did and try to erase any relationship Nathan wanted with his boys. Nathan refused to say anything bad about their mother in from of his boys. But Nasty McNastyton didn’t hesitate, and it caused significant issues with Nathan’s older son. Again, I wanted to punch her.

I did like Lela. She was very open about admitting her past mistakes (including how she met Nathan). She stayed in an abusive relationship so her kids could grow up with two parents – which you shouldn’t do. Kids always know if their parents are unhappy, and Lela’s three adult children knew. She did love Nathan, but she should have known that Nathan’s wife would go nuclear once she found out about their relationship (past and present). After that disastrous Thanksgiving and its repercussions, I didn’t blame her for what she did. I would have done the same.

I liked Nathan, but I felt that he was a hot mess. He shouldn’t have entered a relationship with Lela so soon after discovering his wife’s cheating. It just made things so much more complicated. He was a good father, though, which is the only reason he agreed to make things work with his wife. But I wouldn’t say I liked that he used Lela (and yes, he did), and I didn’t think Lela deserved him until the last part of the book. When the Thanksgiving disaster happened, he did NOTHING to defend her.

What I liked most about this book is it’s messy and raw. While I might not have agreed with how Nathan and Lela did things, it worked for them. My only complaint is that the Christian angle got a little much towards the end of the book, not with Lela (I would class her more as spiritual) but with Nathan. If you are miserable in your relationship and the other person is just as miserable, end it!!!! But I know that divorce is frowned upon in some Christian religions, and I got why Nathan stayed.

A couple of twists in Another Chance at Happiness happened at the end of the book. One, I did see coming, but I figured it wouldn’t happen. The other twist occurred shortly after. While I was happy it happened, I almost didn’t want it to, mainly because that person had gone on with their life and was learning to be happy again.

I would recommend Another Chance at Happiness to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations. Also, see the trigger warning list above.

Many thanks to Novel Cause and Dani Phoenix for allowing me to read and review Another Chance at Happiness. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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