Following Chance by Baxter BrownFollowing Chance by Baxter Brown is a second chance romance about forgiveness and re-establishing trust.

Kate and Lauren met in their last year of college. They were immediately drawn to each other, but Kate had two rules. She didn’t date straight women and she definitely didn’t date married women. Lauren falls into both categories. She married her high school sweetheart, but it’s clear she regrets that decision. When their affair blew up, Kate fled to law school determined to leave her feelings for Lauren behind.

Fifteen years later, Kate returns to Renfrew to become the head librarian at her alma mater. She’s left her fast-paced life as a lawyer because her priorities have changed. That priority has a name. Jack is Kate’s ten-year-old adopted daughter and the center of her world. She’s tired of her nanny having a closer relationship with Jack than she does.

The last thing Kate expected when taking Jack to her first day of school was running into Lauren and her daughter Abbie. Lauren had huge plans for her future including travel and post graduate work. Those plans would have taken her far away from the small town. Kate is shocked but figures she can keep her distance. If her only contact with Lauren is a curt nod at school drop off and pick up, she can manage. Unfortunately, Jack and Abbie become best friends and want to spend every minute outside of school together. Kate is a great mom and isn’t about to let the pain from her past influence her daughter’s happiness.

Kate and Lauren begin a very strained relationship in support of their daughters’ budding friendship. Kate is stuck on a rollercoaster of emotions as she moves between sadness and anger every time she sees Lauren. She tries to keep her distance, but there’s no denying the feelings she still harbors for Lauren.

Tensions run high when Lauren makes it clear she’s never stopped loving Kate. Kate is caught between resentment and hopefulness. How can she ever trust Lauren and her declarations of love? Lauren lied to her once, she’s not about to let that happen again.

When Kate finds out why Lauren broke things off fifteen years ago, will it be enough to trust Lauren with her heart? Do they have a second chance at love?

The Characters

Kate and Lauren are a complicated couple and even more so as individuals. When we meet them in college, Lauren is the picture of innocence, and Kate is all confidence and swagger. Their friendship is sweet. It’s endearing to see how close they become. Once Lauren realizes she’s attracted to Kate, she pursues her relentlessly. When it’s clear they’re headed for a romantic entanglement it’s only a matter of time before everything shatters.

When Kate returns to Renfrew with Jack, she’s wiser but also jaded. She’s never really recovered from her heartbreak at Lauren’s hands. It’s affected every aspect of her life. She carries her sadness like a wet bag of cement and uses clever sarcasm to cover her feelings. I felt every ounce of her struggle, and I so wanted her to find her happiness.

At times it was hard for me to like Lauren. I so identified with Kate I resented her for pursuing Kate then leaving her. As the book progressed, and I got to see her interact with her daughter and try to repair things with Kate she became more sympathetic. Her life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned either. She suffered from her breakup with Kate as well, and it altered the trajectory of her life plans. By the end of the book I was able see she was just as wounded as Kate, and I wanted her to do whatever it took to get Kate back.

The Writing Style

The story is told in first person from Kate’s point of view and she’s a very reliable narrator. Being in her head puts the reader front and center for the emotional turmoil she’s been carrying around for fifteen years. The dialogue is sharp with a dose of sarcasm from both women showing how they’re struggling with the attraction they still feel for each other. Kate uses her sharp intellect and cutting barbs to protect her damaged heart.

Brown structures the book so the narrative jumps back and forth between the current time and fifteen years in the past when Kate and Lauren were involved. This feeds the reader enough information to accompany Kate and Lauren’s tentative steps in establishing a new friendship.

My only critique is I felt Brown waited too long to let the reader know why Lauren broke things off with Kate. She promises her forever and then tells her it’s over. By revealing the reason behind Lauren’s actions so late in the plot, it began to color my opinion of her. That made the resolution to the conflict seem a bit rushed in the end.

My Favourite Parts

So much angst! It was like a big, beautiful pool of regret, meaningful looks, and unsaid feelings I was able to do a graceful swan dive into. This was all the more satisfactory because I got my happily ever after. I’m also a sucker for stories with scene stealing kiddos. Ten-year-old Abbie and Jack couldn’t be any more adorable, and I expect a follow up story set in the future where the two of them get their own happily ever after. (Ms. Brown, please get on that immediately.)

Heads Up

This book involves the dreaded topic of infidelity. It’s at the heart of the story so don’t @ me if you read the book and are affronted by the subjected matter. Interesting to note: it seems that there’re many readers who’re willing to accept a book about a woman cheating on her husband than a book about a woman cheating on her wife. Just an observation.

The Conclusion

victorias favourite booksI really enjoyed Following Chance and Brown is definitely one of my “must read” authors. The emotional pull between Lauren and Kate is undeniable. These women are meant to be together. Call it destiny, fate, or great writing, but there’s no way anything could stand in the way of them cleaning up the wreckage of their past. I find it cathartic to dip my toe into a demanding, soul-searching read every so often. I’m one of few readers who enjoy books that involve cheating. Life is messy and people make big mistakes, but it’s possible to grow from those mistakes and move forward and deliver a super engrossing story in the process.

Excerpt from Following Chance by Baxter Brown

“Can I try a sip of your whiskey?”

I handed her my glass, and her fingers brushed against mine.

“Well?” I could tell that she didn’t care for it.

“It’s different.”

I was surprised when she took another sip. “Do you want a glass?”

“No, I’ll just sip from yours if I want any.”

I sat down beside her and put the glass between us and focused on the music as it filled the room.

“How long have you had the record player?”

“It belonged to my father.”

She reached for the glass and took another tentative sip.

“Next time, I’ll get you your own glass.”

“I won’t want it then.” She closed her eyes. “What kind of women do you like to date?”

I chuckled. “Are we on that again? Are you trying to set me up with one of your friends?”

“No, why?”

“Why do you care so much? Am I the first gay person you’ve ever met?”

“Of course not.”

“Sometimes you act like it. I date women that are available. Why does it always come back to this question with you?”

“You’re very quiet. If I don’t ask you questions, you don’t say anything.”

It was the truth. I preferred to exist in the silent moments. “What is there to say with this music on?” The low dizzying sound of the trumpet lingered. I pointed to the record player. “The music is so much more interesting. What could you possibly want to know about me with this music on?”

“Everything.”

I moved the glass toward my lips, but she stole it from my hand and took another sip.

“I’m tired of talking about me. Why don’t we talk about you?”

“What do you want to know?”

Everything, I thought but didn’t say. “How did you meet Drew?” I asked, because even though I really didn’t want to know, I was curious.

“Our parents were friends for years, and by extension we became friends as well.”

“That’s nice, right? You got to marry your best friend.”

“I wouldn’t say he’s my best friend…”

“Bosom buddy?”

She rolled her eyes.

“If I get married, I hope she’s my best friend.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to spend the rest of my life with her. A best friend… You want to be around that person all the time. You can’t wait for them to wake up to see their smile, hear their voice. They know you inside and out. They know how to make you laugh and they go out of their way to do it. Morning coffee will be all the sweeter. Even the mundane… And when it gets tough, you tough it out together.”

“Did you know that another word for best friend is soul mate?” But she didn’t let me answer. “I was right.”

“About what?”

“You do believe in soul mates.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes. “I believe in best friends. Best friends are never stalkers.” I winked.

“I like that…”

“What?”

“The idea of ending up with your soul mate.”

“Best friend,” I corrected her.

“Best friend,” she said thoughtfully. No more words came. She continued to sip from my glass of whiskey as the music played softly in the background. Neither one of us touched the fact that even though she was married, she was neither with her best friend or her soul mate.

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Bits and Bobs

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About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.