A black woman with an afro tilts her face up with her eyes closed on an orange background.

About the Book

Title: Before I Let Go (Skyland #1)
Published: 2022
Series: Skyland
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Sub-Genres: Contemporary
What’s Your Type: Divorce, One Bed, Second Chance At Love, Grown Couple

The month of l’amour is almost at an end, and so, too, is this year’s Grown-Up Guide to Romance Novels. Thanks for joining us for another successful year of swoons and seduction. Before you go, we’ve got one more trope on the docket: second chance romance. You know what they say: to forgive is divine, and so is week’s featured book!

I thought romance reads were just two people having some kind of meet cute and then living life together after their one sex scene. OH HO HO, was I so wrong. I am so happy I discovered the second chance romance trope. You get a couple with a history and feel like you know and love them even more as you read along.

Before I Let Go (Skyland #1) by Kennedy Ryan

Fancy Dress to Fabio: Chef’s Kiss

This cover is so stunning. Everything is working. The colors, the beautiful model, the foil highlights; (!!!!) I just love everything about it. You feel a calm and peace looking at this book cover…which is a contrast to what’s going on inside the pages…BUT it’s definitely something the characters are working towards! This is a book that will be facing cover-out on my shelf. I seriously cannot stop staring at it.

The Deal: 

Yasmen and Josiah were supposed to be end game. They knew it, their friends and family knew it. Hell, anyone who laid eyes on them knew they were perfect together. But when something unthinkable happens it’s obvious that love isn’t enough to hold them together. With their marriage ended, Yasmen and Josiah have learned to co-parent and run a successful restaurant together.

Two years after their divorce, Yasmen finally feels like she’s getting back to the woman she used to be. Through therapy and yoga she’s found a peace and joy with life she wasn’t sure she would find again. Her teenage daughter, Deja, is at the age where she isn’t making life any easier (teenagers, amiright?) but her son, Kassim, balances that out for her by being respectful and a genius in the classroom. Being a primary caregiver, owning a restaurant, and being the chairwoman of the community association has Yasmen feeling good and looking at Josiah in a whole new light.

Josiah and Yasmen’s relationship has been complicated since the divorce…obviously, but they are determined to put their kids and business first. When Yasmen starts taking a more active role in the restaurant and community again, feelings that Josiah thought he buried are returning to the surface. Not one to be burned twice, he is guarded and has even started dating. But keeping the love of his life off his mind is proving increasingly difficult especially when the universe, friends, and family make it obvious they should be together.

With alternating points of view, we get a deeper look at their relationship, feelings, and sexy times 😉

The Leading Woman:

Yasmen is the definition of a strong woman. The respect and admiration I have for her is beyond words. As a mother I cannot imagine the strength it took for her to show up for her family after tragedy struck. I love that she’s in therapy and that she speaks about it so openly with her family and friends. Struggles, hurdles, and barriers are highlighted, and she’s open about the fact that it took time and patience to find a therapist that worked for her. Yasmen is sexy as all hell and owns her body and mind. She’s working on herself and her relationships, and what more can you want in a leading woman, honestly?

The Leading Man:

Josiah is an amazing father and a stellar business owner; not many people can take a struggling mom-and-pop restaurant and turn it into an upscale, successful restaurant. His kids adore and respect him, which just emphasizes what a good man he is. There is a tenacity about him that is infectious, so it’s no surprise that Yasmen is still attracted to him. He’s strong-willed and stubborn, but grows as a character in ways that many men in romance novels don’t. He feels like an equal partner to Yasmen in all aspects of their lives. I kept picturing Jonathon Majors as his character. You’re welcome, everyone who reads this.

Risque Ranking: 7

There are multiple sex scenes in this book that are made extra steamy because they are also trying not to get caught half the time. Ryan’s writing is beautifully descriptive without being crass. Bonus points for not making me feel gross when Josiah called Yasmen “baby”. The whole book was so emotionally charged and the characters felt so real that Josiah could have called her any pet name and I would have believed it.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose:

I writhe under the assault of lips and tongue and teeth. He grips my hips, dragging me closer and holding me in place for his mouth…When he adds one finger, two, three all the while sucking on me and licking at me like he’s afraid to miss one drop…I come like crashing waves, wet and hard, drowning every rational thought.

Was it Good For You?

While initially hesitant to read a book about a divorced couple, I was immediately surprised about how full of life and love this (un)couple was. Being witness to the growth of Yasmen and Josiah was an absolute pleasure. 10/10, will make everyone read.


Sarah Recommends:

A yellow cover with a guy on the left walking away from a girl facing the reader on the right

The Boy Is Back (Boy #4) by Meg Cabot

I never met a Meg Cabot heroine with whom I didn’t immediately want to share wine and gossip, and Becky Flowers is obvs no exception. This is a super fun, second chance romance in a small town brimming with colorful characters, and Cabot’s wit and knack for dialogue are on dazzling display.  

Stephanie Recommends:

Cover The Right Swipe: Bright pink background, a cartoon man and woman look at their phones

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) by Alisha Rai

I don’t read a lot of “second chance romances” but this one was sweet and sexy. Alisha Rai always has swoonworthy male leads and positive female protagonists!

Rosemary Recommends:

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Do you remember 12 years ago when GQ published this profile of Chris Evans in which the journalist spent an entire weekend flirting with him and the whole thing took the internet by storm? Funny You Should Ask is basically fan fiction of that. A decade after a journalist spends a flirty weekend with the world’s biggest movie star, the two are reunited for a new feature and given a chance to finish what they started.

Kandis Recommends:

Resting Witch Face (Stay a Spell #5) by Juliette Cross

You don’t have to have read the previous four books in the Stay A Spell series, but omg, you really should. Who doesn’t love paranormal romance and New Orleans? Jules Savoie broke up with Ruben Dubois twelve years ago and has kept him at arms’ length every since. Forced to work together, Jules’ vow to resist Ruben’s vampire charms is seriously tested.

Amanda Recommends:

Fool Me Once by Ashley Winstead

The first ‘second chance romance’ I consumed! A workplace romance with great fleshed out characters. Winstead is a fantastic writer and this book made me appreciate the trope. It’s heavy on the politics and there’s cheating involved, which I wasn’t sure I would be into, but the way Winstead handled and explained everything was great.

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Amanda Bell (she/her) is a planner of events, reader (and listener) of books, a consumer of pizza and a crafter of all things! Propelled by caffeine and carbs – she found her love of reading again when she started a book club with her friends in 2019. Since then, books have consumed her life and her TBR pile is outta control. Amanda resides in Edmonton with her husband and daughter.