Review and Giveaway: Once Upon a Second Chance

Dec 10, 2012 by

I love Persuasion. It’s my second favorite Austen to Pride and Prejudice, but only just barely.  There’s so much to love about it – and by so much to love I mostly mean Captain Wentworth (and of course, The Letter).  One of the biggest problems with Persuasion for many readers, though, is Anne.  I like Anne.  I get why she originally rejected Wentworth, why she let herself be swayed, why she ended up as the epitome of a wallflower in the years after.  I get it, but it still makes her not as easy to fall head over heels in love with as a heroine.

Anne is the main reason that I think modern Persuasion adaptations can be difficult.  It’s hard to translate that kind of a character into something modern women will accept and identify with.  This is why I was surprised and excited by the fact that I actually love the main character, Julia, in Marian Vere’s Once Upon a Second Chance.



Like Anne, Julia rejects the love of her life, Nick Kerkley.  She breaks their engagement based on the advice of her older sister who is a mother figure to her.  Julia is young with a promising career in front of her and Nick is young and decidedly poor with nothing but big plans and dreams (and hard work and dedication) going for him.

After Julia breaks off their engagement she never quite recovers.  I loved that she didn’t just shrivel up and die, she also didn’t become quite Anne Elliot level of wallflower, but she was never really totally happy and she never let herself reach her full potential.  It is so easy for a woman her age (or really for anyone) to put her career in neutral.  Working, even doing well in their job, but never achieving their full potential.  For me, Julia was a modern Anne I could relate to.

Plus, Julia has a great voice.  The story is written in first person and she has just enough humor, self-deprecating wit, and sense of irony to make it truly enjoyable to read her perspective.

So, here we have Julia, cruising along in her comfortable job, love life on total hold, when who should walk back into her life? Nick Kerkley.  In fact, he’s hired her firm to help him vet some property – property? Yes, Nick, like Captain Wentworth before him, has made good on all that potential.  And he’s hot.  Really, really hot. And not a total jerk.  And he seems to be falling in love with Julia’s good friend and co-worker.  Oh yeah, and Julia is still completely head-over-heels in love with him.

Will Julia’s fairy godmother come to her rescue or will she have to make her own magic?  Will Nick and Julia ever be able to work through their past and make a new future? Will this book leave you all warm and fuzzy? (The answer to that last question is YES!)

Although this is a Persuasion retelling (and probably the best one I’ve read), you don’t at all have to be familiar with the original to enjoy it.  However, for Janeites there are some fun moments and plot twists.

So to sum up, Once Upon a Second Chance is a fun, breezy, and romantic modern take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Vere weaves together a story of rediscovering lost love with sweetness, sincerity, chic-lit sass, and just a sash of magic. A highly recommended read.

Five out of five stars.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Anne Elliott and (even more so) Fanny Price are difficult for modern readers. Elizabeth Bennet and even Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Morland make far more sense to us.

    I’d love to read this!

  2. Ooh! I have not heard of this book yet! It looks wonderful and I too love modern-day Persuasions, I can’t get enough! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention and for the opportunity to win a copy!

  3. Stephanie Carrico

    I love PERSUASION…..I am interested in a modern version of Anne…I see the strength in her…I feel for her on many levels….Would like to meet Julia and compare the two.

  4. Monica

    Yay! I hadn’t heard of this one before but it does sound great! I like Anne. I don’t know that I’d have made the decision she made but I understand it, and I feel like a lot of her wallflowerness comes from the burden of being the only one with any sense in her family. She is more difficult to modernize than some of the other heroines.

    Thanks for the giveaway! Definitely adding this to my tbr list.

  5. Monica

    I deleted my first tweet for the Rafflecopter ’cause the tweet button has @indiejane (apparently an actual account) instead of @indie_jane but here’s the new one

  6. Ceri

    I will certainly try and catch this one. Persuasion is also my 2nd favourite of Austen’s work but I would agree that it can be harder to update than some of the other Austen works, as a modern woman has so much more control of her destiny and so much more choice, plus we can support ourselves financially, so in modern terms Anne’s decision seems less understandable than it would have 200 years ago.

    I would certainly agree that the letter in Persuasion is exquisite, is this also in the new version?

  7. Teresita

    I would probably identify myself with this character too. It will be a very interesting reading.

  8. maria

    I love “Persuasion” and I think Anne Elliot is very strong despite what most readers think about her. I’d love to read this novel… sounds beautiful!

  9. As we all know, I have a reeeeeally hard time with Persuasion (esp Anne) … BUT, I (strangely) love modern adaptations. So I’m super interested in this one! :) Plus, that cover is entirely too fun, haha

  10. Wonderful review, Jessica! I haven’t read Persuasion (but I am in love with Wentworth Miller who I believe was named after the hero) and I enjoyed your introduction about the novel as comparison. I look forward to reading this!

  11. Do you know how long my TBR list is becoming? All these fantastic books we’ve reviewed lately! Thanks for a great review, Jessica.

  12. Sophia Rose

    Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel so I am eager to read this modern retelling thanks to your review.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  13. Margay

    Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen reads, so I’m always interested in reading adaptions of it and this one sounds good.

  14. Margaret

    As soon as I see the cover it interests me. Sounds like a lot ofmagical girl fun!

  15. The cover alone drew my attention. This sounds like a great book

  16. Patty Marq (@PattyMarq)

    I’d love to read a modern take on Persuasion


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