REVIEW: Rules for Second Chances by Maggie North

Posted July 3rd, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, Review / 7 comments


In Rules for Second Chances by Maggie North, Being outdoors in the Canadian wilderness is the place Liz Lewis feels the most like herself. Not necessarily sitting in an office working on spreadsheets while her husband Tobin Renner-Lewis, who works for the same outdoor adventure company she does, leads hikes and other fun activities. But then again, Liz has pretty much always felt like an outsider with most people. Except Tobin. So, when things go haywire at her own thirtieth birthday party and she’s mistaken for one of the food servers, she shouldn’t be surprised. What it does, though, is point out exactly how much is lacking in her life. And it pushes Liz to (finally) do something about it.

‘This is my birthday. This is my party. This is my life. And I’m playing a supporting role. If I can’t get noticed here, at my own party, what chance do I have anywhere else?’

Liz begins making lists and plans on how to improve herself. How to find the magic Tobin possesses that sends people flocking to him at events, making him the life of the party. But leaving her husband–even temporarily? That was hastily decided and not so well thought out. Although once Liz gets some space, she realizes how much of herself she’s been holding back over the years. Signing up for an improv class to bring her out of her shell might sound ludicrous to some people. But being out of her comfort zone slowly helps Liz see that she’s capable of handling situations on her own. Even social ones. Something she hopes will help her and Tobin repair a marriage that has meant absolutely the world to both of them–if they can figure out a way to have real conversations without falling back into old patterns.

‘For a second, I don’t think about how far apart we’ve grown, and only remember the man I fell in love with underneath the summer stars.’

Full of introspection, self-discovery, diversity, and a romance that just *had* to work out, RULES FOR SECOND CHANCES was as relatable as it was raw and honest.

‘Maybe true love only happens once in a lifetime. But what if it happened again with the same person?’

CW: View Spoiler »

Second chance romance is my literary catnip. And RULES FOR SECOND CHANCES being a marriage in trouble trope definitely fit that bill. Author Maggie North brought the heat, laughter, and (eventually) happy sighs for Liz and Tobin’s story, which also included a whole host of secondary cast members that made a huge impression on me. There was just something about the ensemble that worked perfectly. Even if they didn’t always make it easy on our lovebirds.

Told strictly from Liz’s POV, this at first seemed like it was more about her growth as a person than it was about the breakdown of her marriage to Tobin–but by the end readers will see both issues went hand in hand. Thankfully there was still a ton of love between them. Tobin and Liz had basically lost their way together and instead felt like they were traveling their own paths. It took some doing for them to learn how to communicate, compromise, and be there for each other again but once they were moving in the right direction, oh how beautiful a relationship you could see Liz and Tobin would have going into the future.

I do want to say how much I loved the diversity of characters. Everything from different ethnicities to neurodiversity to LGBTQ+ was represented with carefulness and authenticity. While this did show how difficult it could be for Liz, her niece Eleanor, and others to be considered “different”, there was nothing shameful or overly hurtful about the way they were treated. Instead, I felt like North brought some normalcy to these subjects. And I admire her for including something that based on her author’s note, she has experience with in her own life. So, kudos and thanks to her!

QOTD: Are you an outdoor adventure type of person?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: June 25th, 2024 | St. Martin’s Press |

Brimming with heart and heat, Rules for Second Chances explores the hardest relationship question of can true love happen twice…with the same person?

Liz Lewis has tried everything to be what people want. But she’s always been labeled different from everyone else in the boisterous world of wilderness expeditions—that is, if anyone notices her at all. Her marriage to popular adventure guide Tobin Renner-Lewis is a sinkhole of toxic positivity where she’s the only one saying no. In a mountain resort town built around excitement, introverted Liz gets…spreadsheets.

When she gets mistaken for a server at her own thirtieth birthday party and her last line of communication with Tobin finally snaps, Liz vows to stop playing a minor character in her own life. The (incredibly well-researched and scientific) plan? A crash course in confidence…via improv comedy class. The catch? She’s terrible at it, and the only person willing to practice with her is a certain extroverted wilderness guide who seems dead set on saving their marriage one bonkers improv scenario at a time.

But as Liz and Tobin get closer (…again), she’s forced to confront all the reasons they didn’t work the first time, along with her growing suspicion that there might be more to her social awkwardness than anyone realized. Liz has just eight weeks to learn improv’s most important lesson—”yes, and”—or she’ll have to choose between the love she always wanted and the dreams that got away.



7 Responses to “REVIEW: Rules for Second Chances by Maggie North”

  1. Amy R

    QOTD: Are you an outdoor adventure type of person? No
    Thanks for the review.

  2. Glenda M

    Thanks so much for the review! I like to spend time outside (when the weather is nice), and easy walks that I can pretend are hikes are good, but I am not into camping or extreme stuff.

  3. psu1493

    I am not an outdoor adventure person. This story sounds very relatable. Thank you for the review.