Stella: Hi Rita, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Rita: Thanks so much for inviting me to Ex Libris, Stella! I have to tell you that you deserve an award for the most well thought out interview questions. Each one really made me think…which is great exercise for my brain.
I’m a native Bostonian now living in Western New York with my husband, our two sons, a couple of spoiled shelter dogs, and thousands of books.
Reading and writing are my biggest vices, along with chocolate, sports, Dunkin Donuts, and constantly changing hairstyles.
Stella: Aw, thank you Rita, I am glad you enjoyed answering my questions! :-) Your third novel, Second Chances was released by Entangled Publishing recently in their Indulgence line, congratulations! How would you sum up Second Chances through a catchline (or a Twitter-style elevator pitch)?
Rita: Thanks! Getting a contract offer from Entangled was a major squee moment for me. They are an incredibly professional team and completely deserving of the success that they’ve achieved.
Okay, here’s my Twitter summation:
Hot boy meets reserved girl. Wins her heart. Breaks her heart. She says adios. 6 yrs. later he begs for 2nd chance. Trust comes after long held secret is revealed. HEA.
Stella: And now can you tell readers about it in more detail?
Rita: Second Chances is about a young couple that establishes a relationship in college that eventually falters because of underlying trust and maturity issues. Six years later circumstances bring them back to the same city where they quickly discover that their attraction to each other hasn’t diminished. Unfortunately before they can have a lasting relationship one of them must reveal a potentially damaging secret. At heart it’s about the importance of healing and acceptance, learning to embrace the past so that you can achieve an emotionally healthy future.
Stella: Any good teaser excerpt/scene you’d like to share (or just some titillating lines)?
Rita: Here’s a quick teaser taken from a scene where Brenna and Luke wind up back in bed for the first time in six years:
Not exactly what she wanted to hear. She would have preferred anger to the disappointment in his voice. “Don’t do it. What just happened was awesome. Let’s not put it under a microscope.”
Steady hands claimed the white briefs tangled up at the bottom of the bed. “Okay.”
His single word response was like a kick in the gut. Her brain screamed foul. She hated being on the defensive.
“I’m not kicking you out,” she said, shrugging her arms into her discarded shirt.
“Sure you are.” He brushed his index finger across her lower lip to stop her from responding. “And if that hurts my feelings...well, that’s my problem.”
“I don’t regret having sex with you.”
He lowered his head, breaking eye contact with her. “Fair enough. And I don’t regret making love with you tonight.”
Stella: What inspired you to write Second Chances? Any decisive moment, scene, line which sparked the story?
Rita: This story has been percolating for a few years. The character of Luke actually appeared in one of my earlier novels, Ready to Take a Chance Again. At the time I had no idea what his backstory involved. I actually wrote a very different story for him and then ended up scrapping it completely and starting over.
Stella: Could you introduce the main characters of Second Chances to our readers?
Rita: Brenna, the heroine of Second Chances, grew up in a dysfunctional family. Her father is a deeply flawed individual who is incapable of supporting his family emotionally or financially. Her mother sticks with him despite the fact that he’s a criminal, a cheater, and a horrible example to his children. Unfortunately she succumbs to cancer while Brenna is a teenager, leaving the family in deeper turmoil. When Brenna moves from teenager to young adult she carries with her a tremendous amount of emotional baggage, which impairs her ability to develop a healthy relationship with Luke.
Luke comes from a rather privileged life, surrounded by a loving and successful family. When he meets Brenna he feels a connection unlike anything in his past. Unfortunately he never really sees the whole picture – her history, her secrets or her fears. Their first attempt as a couple fails. Six years later he’s determined to earn a second chance. This time he understands the importance of addressing Brenna’s past and the role he can play in helping her to heal.
Stella: Second Chances is not your usual light and rose-y contemporary romance as it features an emotional scarred and vulnerable heroine who has had more than a rough childhood and is still trying to find her footing in the world and in her life. Did you ever fear that Second Chances might be a bit too dark, gloomy or in your opinion romances that don’t feature problems aren’t real?
Rita: OMG, I love this question. I think with this book I set out to write a story that was a little grittier than my first two novels. Real life romances run the gamut from sweet to challenging to heartbreaking. Since everyone’s experience is a little different I think it’s okay to have a broad spectrum reflected in the genre. Writing a heroine with a dysfunctional family was a challenge for me because I didn’t have personal experience to draw from when I created the character of Brenna.
Stella: Luke is a lawyer and I believe his profession and job are well mirrored in his personality as he is determined, tenacious and always has a good argument to support his logic. His devotion and love for Brenna made him also the perfect hero. Was it challenging to find the balance in their dynamic as Luke tends to be the one always on the giving side and asking Brenna for even a morsel of progress in their relationship?
Stella: You have said that you have written three romance novels about reunited couples, what is the appeal of this trope to you? What is it about the hero and heroine making another go at a happily ever after that attracts/inspires you?
Rita: The reunited lovers trope has always been one of my favorites as a reader. I think everyone makes mistakes when they’re in a relationship. Sometimes those mistakes have devastating consequences. When I write a second chance romance I’m trying to give my characters an opportunity to correct those mistakes before they turn into life long regrets. In the real world people don’t always get the chance to make it right. In fiction anything is possible.
Stella: Any favourite second chance movie/play?
Rita: I have a definite soft spot for ‘Say Anything’ with John Cusak. His character Lloyd, an average guy who dreams of being a kick-boxer, falls head-over-heels for the class valedictorian, Diane. Parental pressure leads to their eventual breakup. But Lloyd never gives up. He knows they belong together and he’s determined to prove it to Diane. It’s a fun movie!
Stella: Second Chances is your third contemporary romance, what is it you like most about this subgenre of romance? And if you could try your hand at something different, what other genre/subgenre would you like to write a story in?
Rita: As a reader I love all different subgenres. Paranormal. YA. Historical. Contemporary. Genre is less important to me than the story itself.
When it comes to writing I’ve always considered my voice to be best suited to contemporary romance. Dialogue is my favorite part of the writing process and it flows most naturally within this subgenre.
If I were to branch out I think I’d probably gravitate toward YA. There are some amazing books in this subgenre and I think its appeal will continue to grow.
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to Second Chances? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters/scene that didn’t end up in the final version)
Rita: Well, there were a few scenes cut out in the very, very final stages of editing. I was a little bit crushed because Luke’s brother Mike played a pivotal role in them and it hurt to minimize his presence in the story.
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule? I have to tell you I took and instant liking to Mike, Luke’s loyal and warm-hearted brother, is there a chance you’ll tell us his story?
First I have to finish my final draft of a baseball themed book, The Only Exception. I made a change to a secondary character in this book and it’s taking me forever to re-work her role in the story.
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Rita: I can punt a football farther than almost anyone I know. I’ve had parents at flag football practices stop and ask me where I learned the skill. It drives my sons crazy because they’ve never been able to outdistance me. They think it’s embarrassing that their mother can out-kick them.
After graduating from Villanova University with a degree in English, Rita spent almost a decade pursuing a professional career in Employee Development. With the arrival of two children, Rita began writing stories during those brief periods of time when her young sons were sleeping.
Today Rita resides in Western New York with her husband, their young boys, and a pair of adopted shelter dogs. Despite her best efforts, she remains addicted to books, baseball and the beaches of Cape Cod.
You can reach her at her website / blog / Twitter.
Second Chances by Rita Oberlies
Will the past keep them apart?
High powered attorney Luke Braden knows that perfection only comes once in a lifetime, and for him it came and went in the form of his college girlfriend, Brenna Morgan. Circumstances beyond his control separated them before, but now that she’s back in Boston, Luke won’t let her slip away again.
Or give them a second chance at love?
For Brenna Morgan, returning home is the very last thing she wants, especially when it means facing the man who once became her salvation—and then dumped her at the first sign of trouble. But Luke is determined to make up for his past mistakes, and Brenna finds herself weakening against him. A decade of deceit lies between them, and he’ll have to fight if he wants to keep his second chance at love.