All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh

on October 7, 2020

Second Chance Lane (Brockenridge #2)
Nicola Marsh
Harlequin AUS
2020, 364p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When the past crashes into the future, there’s more than hearts on the line.

Natasha Trigg leads a simple life in small-town Brockenridge. She works at the roadhouse, has good friends, and at the centre of her world is her daughter, Isla. She knows dumping musician Kody Lansdowne thirteen years ago by misleading him about her pregnancy was best in the long run. She drove him away so he could achieve his dreams but has always felt guilty. When a matchmaking Isla invites a surprise new neighbour to dinner, Tash and Kody come face to face once again…

Now a bona fide rockstar, Kody’s in hiding to sort through the mess his life has become after a concert resulted in devastation. The last thing he needs is discovering he has a child. Especially as it means the one woman he’s never been able to forget is now permanently part of his life. Pity he’s so furious with her…

For Jane Jefferson, who has deliberately fooled townsfolk into believing her reputation is worse than it is for years, a second chance is something she thought she’d never get. Reconnecting with friendships she thought lost forces her to face the question: do past mistakes define you forever?

While navigating the troubled waters of forgiveness, friendship and love, will these three Brockenridge residents discover everyone deserves a second chance?

This is the second novel in Nicola Marsh’s Brockenridge series, centred around a rural Victorian town up in the Murray region. Both books have dealt with people who have grown up in the town, left and returned although Tash was away a much shorter time than Ruby from the first book. Tash was the daughter of very strict religious parents and it was a relief to escape to Melbourne to do a nursing degree. Tash was passionate about her chosen career but meeting Kody at a gig ended up changing everything. After a whirlwind romance, Tash found herself pregnant right on the verge of Kody and his band being offered the biggest break and so she makes the ultimate sacrifice in order for Kody to live his dream.

Now it’s 13 years later and Kody is riding the crest of a wave in his career but at their most recent gig, a terrible thing happened leaving him a mess. He’s holed up at a bandmate’s country property, trying to work through it when he realises that his next door neighbour is Tash….and her 13yo daughter. Their 13yo daughter. Kody is incensed that she kept this from him but he wants to get to know Isla and establish a relationship with her. That means also getting closer to Tash again as they negotiate this new role of co-parenting.

This was a really nice read, I ended up finishing it in one sitting in just a couple of hours. It was good to return to Brockenridge again and catch up with Ruby and Alisha and Harry and learn more about Tash and her young daughter Isla. Tash has raised Isla alone with very little in the way of assistance from anyone. She has made friends back in Brockenridge, returning when she was pregnant, hoping for support from her family despite their strict religious beliefs. When that wasn’t forthcoming, Tash got on with it alone and she’s proud of her daughter. With Kody’s shock arrival in town, Tash realises that everything is about to change – she’ll have to tell Isla the truth about her father and facilitate a relationship between them. And she’s well aware that if Kody chooses to, legally he could make things very difficult for her. And she can’t compete with Kody’s money and lifestyle.

As in the first novel, there’s a secondary story here too, with a romance component. Readers will remember Jane as Ruby’s teenage antagonist and we get a lot more of her story in this book, which helps shed light on why she was the way she was in high school and how she’s doing now. I always enjoy a good redemption story and thought Marsh did a wonderful job of bringing Jane to life and giving the reader some insight into her childhood, the reasoning for her behaviour and even as an adult. There are things that shape us that we find hard to let go of and I enjoyed the way she and Murray interacted. It took up just the right amount of page time although there were times when I thought Murray might’ve needed to let go the things that happened some 13 years ago!

Back to Kody and Tash and I thought that Kody definitely had every right to be angry at Tash for the lie she told him and the fact she denied him 13 years of getting to know his daughter, of being a parent. Even though Tash was doing what she thought was the best thing to do at the time (something Kody does later acknowledge to himself) it doesn’t change the fact that she definitely took a choice away from him, even if she was doing it to benefit him. He also got to come in and be this famous figure to Isla which gave them somewhat of an idealised relationship – it didn’t feel at all like a parent-child relationship and perhaps they might never have that. I thought it was a bit rough when he asked for all the holidays when trying to work out custody – Tash deserved ‘downtime’ with Isla as well, rather than just parenting her through all the school year and doing the harder yards only for her to be able to have holidays with Kody and spend all her “fun time” with him. I was surprised there wasn’t an attempt to negotiate this but Tash seemed too fearful of trying to counter-offer in case Kody brought in lawyers when she could ill-afford to fight legally. Even though all of this wasn’t particularly relevant in the end I think Tash felt too guilty really, to try and balance things out a bit more.

This was enjoyable and I feel as though the next Brockenridge book might already be in the works!


Book #199 of 2020

This was book #77 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2020


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