Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft

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New home, new friends, new love. Can starting over be that simple?

Tess Riddell reckons her beloved Freelander is more reliable than any man - especially her ex -fianc√©, Olly Gray. She’s moving on from her old life and into the perfect cottage in the country.

Miles Rattenbury’s passions? Old cars and new women! Romance? He's into fun rather than commitment. 

When Tess crashes the Freelander into his breakdown truck, they find that they’re nearly neighbours – yet worlds apart. Despite her overprotective parents and a suddenly attentive Olly, she discovers the joys of village life and even forms an unlikely friendship with Miles. Then, just as their relationship develops into something deeper, an old flame comes looking for him...

Is their love strong enough to overcome the past? Or will it take more than either of them is prepared to give?

I have read a few books recently with strong female characters looking to overcome some horrendous event in the past. Each one is different in personality and it's fascinating to see how each one deals with the hand they've been dealt.

Tess is moving into a new cottage after breaking up with her ex. She makes quite the impression when she literally runs her car into the back of Miles' truck and needs him to tow her car to his garage so that it can be fixed. Not the best way to meet new people. Miles, known as Ratty to his friends, isn't impressed with Tess' curt behaviour during this encounter. They do wind up running into each other on various occasions through her new neighbours and so have to endure each other's company. They do eventually get closer but it takes a while to get there. Tess' previous relationship was a disaster that left her utterly shaken. Her healing has been slow; she's had no real support from her family so her new life in the country has been refreshing. This bizarre thing she has going with Ratty will do for now especially since he's not for any kind of commitment whatsoever.

I adored the English countryside setting; it looked so cozy and picturesque in my mind. The writing took a bit of getting used to at first. Moorcroft's style is different from what I've typically read in the past so I had to get a few pages in before I found its rhythm. There were a few references that I missed only because of a lack of familiarity, but it certainly didn't hinder my overall enjoyment of the novel. The pacing of the story which spans a couple of years is perfect allowing for the characters to develop in their own time. The romance between Tess and Ratty is a slow build which is kind of a rare thing in romances lately, and I preferred it mainly because after what Tess went through previously, she needed to go at her comfort level. It's heady stuff resulting from her nasty relationship/breakup with her ex-fiancé. That storyline is complicated and emotional, and on the flip side even provides some absurd moments in the present. Speaking of absurd, Tess' new friends and family are all wacky which makes them all lovable, except maybe the parents who are a bit clueless and meddlesome.

Starting Over is the first book I've read by British publisher, Choc Lit and the first by Sue Moorcroft. Reading it had me feeling as if I was transported to the English countryside and living in a quaint cottage surrounded by a loving and well-meaning group of friends. It's the perfect choice if you we want to see a heroine who's been through the wringer find that happily ever after!

~ Bel

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