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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Queen of New Beginnings
Clayton Miller has lost everything. He was one of the country's best selling comedy script writers. His writing partner and best friend Bazza drops a bombshell and leaves not only the partnership but takes Claytons long term girlfriend Stacey with him. Clayton is on the edge and when the press start hounding him, his agent decides that a break out in the sticks where...
Published on 8 Feb 2010 by Best Crime Books

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Erica's best
book by any means, and I felt a little let down by it. Kept putting the book down and reading other things in between. I had to scan some of the big blocks of narrative in the end. Also, could not sympathise with Clayton; did not like his character. The humour was laboured in parts. Disappointing, and I hope EJ's next book will be more like her earlier works.
Published on 28 Oct 2010 by FrancescaD


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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Queen of New Beginnings, 8 Feb 2010
By 
Best Crime Books "Best Crime Books" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Clayton Miller has lost everything. He was one of the country's best selling comedy script writers. His writing partner and best friend Bazza drops a bombshell and leaves not only the partnership but takes Claytons long term girlfriend Stacey with him. Clayton is on the edge and when the press start hounding him, his agent decides that a break out in the sticks where nobody knows him will do him good until the media hype dies down. Clayton moves into a house through rented by one of his agents friends. When he arrives he doesn't expect to see anybody, so when a cleaning lady turns up from the agency he is shocked. Alice Shoemaker is the cleaner, except what Clayton doesn't realise is that she is actually a Voiceover artist and is doing this job to help out a friend. Alice quickly realises that this rude and obnoxious man is acting suspiciously. Clayton in turn is also realising that Alice is not quite telling the truth. Over time the two of them form a friendship but what they don't realise is the extent of the deception that both of them are guilty of.

I have read each and every one of Erica James' books. I have always enjoyed them and rated them at least 4 out of 5, except for her last book `It's the little things'. I was disappointed to a certain extent and only gave it 3 out of 5, so I was hopeful that this book would be an improvement on her last as I have always enjoyed her books. Thankfully this one is a definite improvement.

The story is pretty quick to gather momentum and I fell for the characters almost immediately, which is always a positive in my eyes. Clayton is a great character and although the beginning of the story introduces him to us as a bitter and grumpy man you can't help but feel for him. He is like a duck out of water having previously lived his whole working life in London. Now he finds himself out in the sticks with just fields for company.

The initial meeting with Clayton and Alice is also quite funny and the author has written it incredibly well with just the right dose of humour. Her books in the past sometimes are meaningful and sometimes more the romantic type but with this one she seems to have hit the mark and got the balance just right.

We meet a few characters along the way which I can imagine fitting in perfectly in the village. We meet the crazy neighbour known as George. Her first meeting with Clayton sets the scene perfectly for just how eccentric the old lady is. We also meet Ronetta, Alice's next door neighbour and friend along with her son Bob who has a soft spot for Alice.

The character Stacey is the perfect woman that we all love to hate. Selfish, money grabbing and very cold hearted. Although Bazza has done the dirty on Clayton you can't help but root for him. I wouldn't like to add spoilers but the way things end with Stacey was absolutely perfect!

The story is told with snatches of Alice's past built in to explain the current state of play and it makes for fantastic reading. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was a perfect mix of all that a reader wants. Unfortunately, I wouldn't rate the book as a 5 star because there are other books that I have read very recently that in comparison are much better, but it was a great read all the same. I will continue to read Erica James and only hope that her books continue being this enjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book let down by e-book formatting, 22 Sep 2010
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen of New Beginnings (Kindle Edition)
I find Erica James' books something of a mixed bunch. I have thoroughly enjoyed many of them but some I've found virtually impossible to read. This book, however, I did enjoy. Alice lives in a small village in Derbyshire and provides voiceovers for advertisements and reads audio books for a living. She enjoys her job and is happy with her life though she rarely talks about her past. But that is about to change when she is asked to clean the house of a newcomer to the village as a favour to her neighbour who runs a cleaning agency.

Ralph Shannon has his own secrets and is trying to build a new life for himself and get rid of his long standing writers' block. He is hiding under an alias to escape from the bad publicity attached to his previous messy private life and some ill considered actions he took when under stress which attracted nationwide publicity. Alice and `Ralph' strike up an uneasy friendship but their many secrets will need to be told before either can build a new relationship.

The plot is complex with many memorable characters both past and present. I liked Alice and the elderly eccentric lady in the village known as George and I was less keen on `Ralph' though he is the sort of character who grows on you as you read the book. There are some very funny scenes - especially towards the end and the finale is just perfect. Village life is well portrayed and I liked the interactions between all the characters. Maybe Alice's previous life did not need to be portrayed in such detail and I found it a little tedious reading this section of the book but the rest of the story more than made up for it.

My only quibble is in the formatting of the e-book which leaves very large gaps between paragraphs especially in sections of dialogue. These cannot be reduced by changing the font size or number of words per line etc. It doesn't make the book impossible to read but I found it a little irritating at times especially where it resulted in only about four or five lines of text where there is dialogue and people are only saying a few words each. I'm sure this problem will be rectified in later editions of the book.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 11 Feb 2010
By 
LEP "LEP" (England) - See all my reviews
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Very enjoyable read and in one place laugh out loud funny (Clayton hiring what he thinks are garden gnome sized cute toy animals, for Stacey and Bazza's garden, as way of an apology).

I wont do a detailed synopsis because the previous reviewer has already done one. As the grumpiness and irritation dies down on the part of Clayton and Alice, she agrees to tell him the story of her childhood (up until the age of 18) in Cuckoo House, in return for his story of what really happened between him, Bazza and Stacey. That is really the main hinge of the story, plus what happens next when Clayton unlocks his writer's block.

I really enjoyed it and it flows well, holding you to the developing story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars, 14 April 2010
By 
C. Rucroft "The little bookworm" (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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In this book we are introduced to two characters, Alice and Clayton. Throughout the book we learn of their two stories (I can't really say what they are, or it would spoil the book) but both had me racing through, to get the next 'installment'.
In Alice's story we go back to the 1990's and in Clayton's we go back just a month, or so. How they influence each other's futures is the thing that you don't see coming, but is so cleverly done. I zipped through this book and found it very hard to put down. Lots of things happened, but they all 'fitted' perfectly and added so much to the story. The cover is also beautiful.
It lost half a star because when we went back in Alice's story, it didn't feel like it had been 'set' right. We are told that Alice listens to Take That on her CD player, so that means it's 1990's, but it felt more like 1930's/1940's. This detracted a little bit from the story for me.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. It's my first Erica James, but it won't be my last.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Erica's best, 28 Oct 2010
book by any means, and I felt a little let down by it. Kept putting the book down and reading other things in between. I had to scan some of the big blocks of narrative in the end. Also, could not sympathise with Clayton; did not like his character. The humour was laboured in parts. Disappointing, and I hope EJ's next book will be more like her earlier works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Reliable Read, 13 April 2010
By 
Shouna Falconer (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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"Tell It To The Skies" meets "Paradise House". This is an enjoyable read for any fans of this author. However as someone who has read most of Erica James' books, I was irritated by the predictability of some of the plot twists. One of the twists is straight from "Paradise House" while another is too easily guessed at way too early in the story.

This is but a small problem though, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants a lightweight and enjoyable read. The author displays her gift for structuring novels in a compelling way. As ever her characters are endearing and the plot is sufficiently intriguing to make the reader remain sitting down for "just one more chapter..."

Early in the book we are introduced to the two main characters, one overtly unhappy; the other more subtly miserable. Their back stories are trickled out in the way that Erica James is so adept at, while at the same time the novel moves forward, drawing these two people together with the inevitable complications. The ending is very satisfactory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shallow, 3 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Queen of New Beginnings (Kindle Edition)
Probably just not my idea of a good read, although it was finished. Really to see if it improved. It didn't. I was also annoyed by typographical and grammatical errors - an all too frequent problem in too many books.

It is up to me to be more discerning in my book choice in future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the complete package!, 24 April 2011
This review is from: The Queen of New Beginnings (Kindle Edition)
This is my first Erica James book and I loved it pretty much from the start.............It had a great story, there is lots of intrigue and mystery that really draws the reader in and you want to find out what has happened in the past with the two main characters. All of the characters are so believable and I really felt like I knew them and was sorry to see them go at the end. Alice was such a lovely person but like all people has flaws and you were on a real journey of discovery with her. Clayton was a likeable fool that you couldn't help but love. The book had all the elements of a good story and both made me laugh and cry - luckily I was reading it in the sun so had my sunglasses on so don't think anyone saw the tears!

This must be made in to a film and I already have my mind made up as to who would play Alice and Clayton!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great price, 29 Aug 2010
Have read lots of previous titles by this author and this book is just as good
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Queen of New Beginnings, 12 July 2010
By 
A. J. Lishman "A Homer" (France) - See all my reviews
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This was OK - I always enjoy Erica James books - but it was far from her best. The development of the relationship between the two main characters felt somewhat forced, the overall plot was unconvincing and the ending was not only unbelievable but downright silly!

Precious Time and The Holiday were my favourites! This one is not a patch on those, but I still look forward to the next Erica James - one less than perfect book does not a bad author make!
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