Minda’s drunk review of The Second First Chance by Mona Shroff
What I drank prior: Lots of stuff! Mostly spiked seltzer and beers. Boat day FTW.
“Striking a perfect balance between drama and romance, this is sure to please.”—Publishers Weekly
The Second First Chance is a big, wonderful, messy love story about family, heartbreak, strength and courage. It shows us that sometimes what we want is what we least expect, and that everything we need is often right in front of us.
Strength comes in many different forms.
Riya Desai and Dhillon Vora grew up together. Sharing secrets, hiding in their tree house, they were playmates, best friends and later—as teenagers—almost something more. Until the devastating house fire that ripped them apart, claiming the life of Dhillon’s father and Riya’s big brother, Samir. Riya and Dhillon have barely spoken since that terrible night, but they both made big decisions based on that fire.
Riya has chosen to fight fire with everything she’s got, but it’s not easy. As the only female firefighter and one of the only people of color at her fire hall, she has to prove herself over and over. Plus, she’s hidden her career from her family.
Dhillon wanted to heal things, so he became a veterinarian. When a chance encounter with a rescue dog throws Riya and Dhillon together again, he’s furious at her career choice. After what happened to them, how can she run into fires on purpose? For Riya, Dhillon’s anger is unacceptable: How can he not see that she’s protecting others from the very losses they both experienced?
My Summary: A very cute love story between the boy- and girl-next-door who faced a horrible tragedy in the form of a fire that took someone very close to each of them. Now, they are adults who’ve taken wildly different paths. Dhillon has taken his experience with loss and the near loss of his dog and turned that into a veterinarian career. Riya, on the other hand, has chosen to be a firefighter, a tyipixally male dominated field. Though their families are still close, Dhillon and Riya can’t quite get past their shared history and their former friendship. But when a new event brings them together, they have another chance to rekindle what they once had—and maybe never lost.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: This was seriously SICH a cute long term love story. Like, everything I ever wanted when I was growing up. Even better, both characters are amazing. Which I feel like I don’t always feel in a romance novel. But Riya has a ton of agency and Dhillon is also someone I totally get. I was swooning the whole time. They are two very different characters, but I really understood both of the perspectives.
Characters: Riya Desais is an EMT-turner firefighter who LOVES her career. She’s still new to the gig and breaking into a male-dominated field/station, so that’s an uphill battle. In her wrap she handles it pretty well. Less so her family shit. Dhillon Vora is a passionate vet who couldn’t even imagine a single person he loves being in or around fires. Unfortunately for him. Scout. And Lucky are their very sweet, very low personality dogs. Hetal, Dhillon’s sister and Riya’s mentee is also Ana amazing character that we can’t sleep on, also appreciated a number of Riya’s colleagues, both good and bad. The rest of their families were also very sweet.
Plot: After Dhillon discovers Riya’s secret firefighting career, they both run into each other more and more. There’s definitely something between them, but they won’t admit it to themselves or each other, which is annoying sometimes but I think fairly typically for the greener. Of course all culminates into a VERY BIG moment that seems a little too convenient, but I’m too invested in this relationship to care. Literally they are the cutest and I love them and their families. The climax is kinda a clusterf*ck, but again I’m just glad it happened. And win for my girl Hetal.
World Building: I loved the descriptions of Indian American culture and the food. YUM! Bonus, I also live in Maryland so I knew a lot of the places they went!
Writing Style: Both Dhillon and Riya’s perspectives, which was much appreciated.
Drink Pairing: Caprihenia! I love them and they’re super great and hit the spot.
Rating: 4/5 shots