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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Queen of New Beginnings
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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
I admit that when I bought this book I was cautious about what to expect. It had no reviews on Amazon and I often find editorial reviews somewhat lacking and biased in their opinions. Added to this wariness was that I had never heard of this author (I have since discovered Ms James has a long list of books to offer).
The authors' writing style captured me instantly as I was drawn into this incredibly well crafted tale.

This book tells the story of its two main characters Alice Shoemaker and Clayton Miller. Clayton is a script writer whose career has hit rock bottom after his girlfriend leaves him for his ex-writing partner. In an attempt to lay low from some very bad publicity, Clayton's agent sends him to the moors of Derbyshire to hide out under an alias. This is where our two main characters meet as Alice, doing a favour for her neighbour, is hired as his cleaner. Alice is a voice-over artist who once held aspirations of becoming an actress. Shocked with Clayton's rough appearance and rude introduction she pretends to be Katya, a Latvian cleaner, who is equally rude in return.
Before long both have their real identities revealed and Alice reveals she grew up in the house that Clayton is hiding out in. This gets Clayton and Alice talking and they begin to share things about each other, things they haven't shared with anyone else before. And this is when the trouble starts...

The thing that keeps you enchanted with this book from beginning to end is the amazing characters the author has created. Alice and Clayton are well rounded with faults and flaws and you are given an amazing insight into their pasts, revealing how they came to be the people they are. Added to this is a strong cast of supporting characters, each of whom feels like a real person and not simply another background character in a book.

After beginning the book with wariness, I cannot believe just how much I loved this book! The author tells her story with a natural rhythm and her descriptions easily allow you to picture scenes. If I had to compare her style to another author, I would say she is similar to Katie Fforde with her lovable charismatic characters and quirkiness that only the English can pull off.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This one is definitely a keeper and I am now going to eagerly hunt down the other books this author has written.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Take a voice-over artist and a television writer who is in hiding, place them in a house together and watch them keep trying to hide things from each other. Alice and Clayton are this such pair and from the beginning of the story, the reader knows that something is going to happen between the two of them.

Alice's story is very intriguing and quite sad at times. She reveals her dysfunctional childhood and the relationships she shared with her father and step-family. She pours out her heart and soul to Clayton and it's quite dastardly of him to use her feelings and emotions to benefit him. Of course he doesn't come across as a monster because for the most part he really is a nice guy. He's just been jaded and down in the dumps and is trying to crawl back out of the whole again. The best part of the story for me is at the end when Clatyon finally gets back revenge on those who had wronged him. Normally revenge is not thee best way to settle things but what happens here is hilarious and I will say, they had it coming for them especially when we find out the whole truth.

The story takes this familiar scenario: one party goes behind person's back but then falls in love with them, they think that they can still do the deed without the other finding out but of course it backfires. The couple splits angrily but then reunites later in the story and all is well. While this plot has been told many times, James puts an entirely different spin on it and makes it into a compelling story. She makes the characters believable and puts heart and soul into them. The reader sees both their flaws as well as the good that is in them. Supporting characters help to flesh out the main characters as well as we see how past events have shaped them to who they are today.

Part of the story's charm is the fact that it takes place in England. I don't know what it is about British authors but I find British chick lit to be far superior to American chick lit in many cases. This is one of them. James has an extensive backlist and I look forward to discovering more of her works.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Almost infamous fortyish Clayton Miller flees London after causing a public humiliation involving his former girlfriend Stacey and his former writing partner Barry "Lucky Bazza" Osbourne. His heart is shattered and his career as a scriptwriter recently in the stratosphere has crashed to earth as he is out of work and out of ideas except for writing his obit

His agent Glen told Clayton to relocate temporarily in the countryside at the Cuckoo House. There he and Alice Shoemaker meet when she arrives as the housekeeper. The house is actually her family abode and though she suffered broken hearts here, she relishes being able to come home. The pair dislikes one another from the onset yet also feels a fascination. They forge a friendship as each tells the other why he and she rusticate in the country. As they start to trust and rely on one another for emotional relief, they begin to fall in love; but both fears that feeling will lead to a fresh heartbreak with no one around to help them weather the storm.

Although the story line is linear as the plot goes as expected, the cast (London and the villagers) is superb. The support characters enhance the look at the lead pair while Clayton and Alice are nice people who each fears love having recent heartbreaks. The strong characterizations make for a tender second chance at love tale if the lead duet can take that leap of faith and trust in their respective hearts.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One word: boring. This book was extremely well written, had a good plot line, characters were well developed - it was just boring. There was no real excitement or drama that pulled me into the story. It was mainly just a recitation of a woman named Alice's life (past and present), and how it intersected with a down-on-his-luck writer named Clayton. Throw in the almost obligatory romance theme, and there you go. There were a few "twists" along the way, but I use that word lightly. None of them added any element of surprise or suspense to the book; I saw them coming from a mile away.
The only redeeming quality about this book was the character of George. She is an overbearing, brash, eccentric old lady, who had me laughing in just about every scene she was in. It was a shame that such a great character was wasted on a book like this.
I finished the book, but I hate to say it was really only because I am OCD about leaving no book unfinished once started. Unless it is just written horrendously, I WILL finish it.
This is the first book by Erica James that I have picked up, so I can't say that I will never try another one. She writes beautifully - this just wasn't the story for me.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you just want a simple, easy read to distract you for a couple of hours if you have nothing else to do.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 9, 2011
Alice likes to reinvent herself with voice changes and persona make overs. Clayton just wants to reinvent his life. The two, after a bit of a rough start, become friends until a huge betrayal happens. At first I thought this book would be fluffy chick lit but it is much more than that. James writes decent characters and weaves a tale around them. This book seemed to be a mix of chick lit, southern fiction and romance all rolled into one. [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2013
Interesting hero and heroine--a comedy writer with writer's block who's done something foolish so media is hounding him and a wanna-be actress who does voice-overs. There are some laughs along with the romance making the book an enjoyable, light read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2013
The plot of this novel is pretty predictable. Cranky man meets woman with secrets. You can probably fill in the blanks. I did enjoy reading it, because I was in the mood for this kind of book, but the writing was distractingly bad at times. Lots of style and usage problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2012
I was surprised how much I liked this book. This is a romance, but it is more about how the past and human nature can stand in the way of romance, unless you can let it go.

This is the story of Alice, a voice-over artist, and Clayton, a screenwriter. Alice is good, but has come to terms with the fact that she will never be a big name actress. Clayton was once on of the best comedy writers around, but has recently hit the skids and is hiding out from a tabloid scandal. He's got writer's block and is desperate to find something to write about again. Alice has finally come back to her hometown, but is still unsure about facing her family ghosts. Her childhood was very troubling and she basically cut herself off from her family for a number of years.

One of the things I really liked about this story was that both of the main characters were flawed. It wasn't that they weren't good people, but they each had history and faults that stood in their way. Their pain and loneliness bring them together, their fears and baggage tear them apart. Healing comes slowly to these deeply troubled people. This made the characters very human.

I also liked how all the loose ends were tied up, but people's basic moral character didn't really change. This story starts a bit slow and simmers along steadily. At first you are wondering how anyone could like these people, but as more things happen you begin to understand. Not fast paced, so if you need that in a story this may not be for you. A very satisfying read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
I have been thinking that free and nearly free Kindle books are mostly a venue for Christian literature - but this book was a great read with decent writing. I enjoyed it.
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on November 6, 2011
I really, really liked this book. The hero, a successful sit-com writer, is hiding from the press after an embarrassing public display to do with his old writing partner and his old girlfriend now with his partner.

His cleaning lady turns out to be the heroine who immediately, annoyed by his rudeness, pretends to be a Latvian maid. In reality she does voiceovers.

As the gentle romance unfolds, Alice tells her tale and Clayton tells his and they grow close. Then Clayton does a terrible thing.

When all the loose ends are tied up, I felt only the tiniest seed of dissatisfaction. The story implies anyone can be forgiven anything, no matter how terrible. But there was a mild satisfaction when the villains were shown to have got their comeuppance. Something that felt offkey when the forgiveness theme was preached so strongly.

Never mind. It was a really good read.
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