Title: Second Helpings
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: Novella (23k Words)
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: For a novella, Second Helpings packs an impressive emotional punch, culminating in a lovely do-over for its leading men.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: After escaping to New York City and building a successful career, food blogger Isaac Reynolds returns to his small Ozark hometown for his twenty-year high school reunion. But old ghosts and a charged family history surrounding his mixed-race identity emerge to threaten the emotional safety that time and distance once provided.
Grant Atkins never expected his long-lost love to make an appearance at the reunion—or to step foot in their hometown, for that matter—not after two decades in the big city. But the flames Isaac inspired in Grant have yet to cool, and while part of Grant wants to shove the past aside and live for the moment, the other part screams out a warning that the risk might shatter his heart and the peace he has finally found.
As Isaac explores the memories and flavors of childhood, he realizes what his soul has been craving all this time… And a second chance might be just within Grant’s reach.
Review: Brandon Witt is never one to spare the emotional complexity wrought by some of the starker realities of life. In its simplest form his latest novella, Second Helpings, is both a play on words and a second chance romance. At its most tangled, it’s the story of a mixed-race man, Isaac Reynolds, who has returned to the backwater Missouri town where he was raised by his grandparents, where he’d endured prejudice, and where he learned of a horrific family secret that would go on to rock the foundation of his entire upbringing, even more so than his mother already had done, only to then come face to face with the man he’d loved, still loves, and yet had left behind without a word twenty years before.
Witt does not shy away from the topic of racism in this story, and how it impacted Isaac, specifically in returning to El Dorado Springs—a name that conjures a far more idyllic image than is the reality—and confronting his memories. There are no redemption stories for those who wronged Isaac, and I was relieved that’s not the path that was followed. Forgiveness doesn’t change facts or repair the irreparable, and Isaac was not the one to bear the burden of the concept that to “forgive is divine.”
Grant Atkins never really recovered from the devastation of Isaac’s departure, and Witt makes that clear from the get-go. It’s one of the strengths of this story, in fact, that the author was able to pick this relationship up nearly where it had left off, allowing readers to experience the sting of loss even without having witnessed the departure and those intervening years. Grant’s hurt was a mitigating factor in some of the choices he made in the aftermath of Isaac’s disappearance, and those choices become a point of contention, albeit briefly, in his and Isaac’s reunion.
The overarching message in Second Helpings is that living life without taking a few risks is a life not fully lived, and happiness comes when truth is accepted and chances are taken. For a novella, it packs an impressive emotional punch, culminating in a lovely do-over for its leading men.
You can buy Second Helpings here:
[zilla_button url=”https://smarturl.it/SecondHelpings” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]