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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Secondhand Romance is a second-chances contemporary romance novel written by Jessica Stevens. Rita and her identical twin sister, Annabelle, did everything together, so those who knew and loved them weren't all that surprised when they announced their plan to have a double wedding. Annabelle was madly in love with Dexter, and Rita and Luca had been both best friends and lovers for five years when he finally proposed to her. While Annabelle seemed to be generating more enthusiasm over the endless details of planning their big event, Rita was thrilled to be participating in her own way. She was a career woman who loved fashion and had crafted for herself a dream job with a fashion magazine. Their double wedding was everything they had dreamed of. The guests marveled at the meticulous attention to details each of the team of family members had put into the twins' special day. All-too-soon, however, it was time for Rita and Luca to leave the reception. They had decided to honeymoon in Italy, and their plane reservations demanded an early exit. Annabelle and Dexter were likewise leaving in their limousine, which was following behind Rita's, when the unthinkable happened. An out-of-control truck veered into the limousine as Rita and Luca helplessly watched. Rita was able to crawl from the wreckage and was whisked off to the hospital where she'd spend some time recovering from her injuries, but Luca hadn't survived. Three years later, Rita still mourned her husband of only a few short hours. Her pain was still devastating, but she couldn't imagine living life without that awareness of her loss.
Jessica Stevens's second-chances contemporary romance, Secondhand Romance, is a sweet love story about a young widow and the artist-sculptor who might just be able to get her to fall in love once again. It's also a compelling look into relationships and how families can support one another. I was especially moved by the story of Dylan, the 13-year-old intern who comes to work with Rita and her assistant, Karen. Orphaned at the age of 10, Dylan had been inadvertently placed in some horrific situations with abusive and cruel foster parents. While she's with the best foster parents yet, she yearns for the stability of being adopted by a loving family, even as she acknowledges that her increasing age diminishes the chances of having her dream come true. Stevens's academic and professional background in Marriage and Family Therapy gives her readers an authentic look into the foster care system and the fortunes of children like Dylan, giving an added dimension to this well-written starting-over romance. Secondhand Romance is highly recommended.