Category: Erica James

The Dandelion Years by Erica James

My Rating: 5/5

Available: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio, Kobo, Nook, Paperback due 18.06.15

Synopsis: Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.

Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible – and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.

My Review:  I wasn’t entirely sure about the synopsis of this book but all those reservations went away when I started reading this latest release by Erica James. It was a bit of a slow burner but well worth the wait. Saskia seems something of a loner and following the death of her mother and grandmothers her life has fallen into an unusual situation. She lives with her father and two grandfathers in relative harmony. Saskia is a book restorer and along with her father they arrive at a job where Saskia finds a hidden notebook which soon becomes a bit of an obsession.

Saskia wasn’t a character I was drawn to immediately, but as you get to know her father and two grandfathers each character means you understand Saskia that little bit more. Matthew Grey is recovering from the death of the man closest to him Jacob, who he considered a father figure. When Saskia and Matthew meet they have no idea how they are linked but their awkward and faltering start makes for compulsive reading. 

The notebook is the second thread of the story and features a man who falls in love with the love of his life Kitty during the war. This element of the story was one that made me question whether I would enjoy the book, but Erica James has a way with storytelling that means it matters little what era you are in. The war time love tale between Kitty and the man in her life had me hooked. I would say this is the furthest from what I would traditionally read, but a book that took me completely by surprise. An absolutely wonderful book by an author I love, and I cannot recommend this highly enough!

The Real Katie Lavender by Erica James

My Rating: 4/5

It has been a year since I read an Erica James book and was looking forward to her new offering. At 448 pages it certainly isn’t a short book but I settled myself down to what I hoped would be another great book.

We meet Katie Lavender very early on as we see her get some shocking news from her solicitor. Learning that her life as she knew it was not what she thought was a great opener for me and I was soon gripped by the turn of events her life was going to take. Katie is a really likeable girl without being too predictably weak. I liked the fact that she took the bull by the horns and sets about learning what her life and family are really all about.

The Nightingale family are from the outside the perfect family, but once Katie becomes involved she realises that there is more to them than meets the eye. She is then party to a number of crises that hit the family and before she knows it she is a part of their strange but interesting lives.

The Nightingale family made for an interesting read with the family members all having their own skeletons in the closet. Stirling Nightingale was interesting for me as I couldn’t decide whether I liked him or not, but it certainly kept me reading to find out what would happen to the whole family. The additional family member that really added some spark was Cecily, the grandmother, who seems to have more spark and get up and go than all of them put together.

Towards the end, I found that some characters grated on me but I think that was the whole point, and overall I liked the ending and the way that things turned out for all involved. It certainly wasn’t Erica’s best book ever, but it was a book that kept me turning the pages having the right mix of love, tears and laughter. An enjoyable read.

Promises, Promises by Erica James

My Rating: 4/5

Erica James books have always been a source of enjoyment for me. Yes she produces Chick Lit romance books but she always manages to integrate a dose of realism without it becoming too depressing.

In this book Erica’s writing style is as ever so easy to get along with. You are swept away with the characters as they are introduced to you and you find yourself feeling like you want to be a part of what is going on.

In this case it is meeting the three main characters and their husbands’ wives or children. Maggie is the first we meet and I instantly loved here character. She is a woman that cleans houses for a living and is constantly being put down by her mother in law, or being bossed around by her slob of a husband. Next comes Ella and initially I wasn’t sure about Ella, but as time goes on you really warm to her and can see that she is suffering to get through the feeling that she has wasted many years on a man who cannot commit to her for all the wrong reasons. Lastly we meet Ethan who although selfish, I couldn’t help but really like.

The story is told from all of their perspectives which makes it easy to follow each thread. Ethan’s wife was despicable and a great bit of character writing from Erica James. This latest book was a pretty hefty offering at 448 pages but no sooner had I started it I was turning pages incredibly quickly.

The story itself was told really well because although it’s essentially a romance book, it’s what I like to call reality romance. We see the realities that maybe we know happen in real life. We see women that stay with the wrong man, women that marry for the wrong reasons and men that have affairs because they are unhappy. It is told with sympathy but a good old dose of reality.

By the halfway mark I decided to give up on the idea of finishing my much overdue ironing and devoured the second half in one foul swoop. I finished the book feeling happy that the ending was as I thought, yes a tad predictable but still it was the ending that I had hoped for. Once again Erica James has created a very good Chick Lit books that her fans should love, I know I did!

The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

My Rating: 4/5

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. 

It’s The Little Things by Erica James

Synopsis: Dan and Sally Oliver and their friend Chloe Hennessey are lucky to be alive. Three years on, after surviving one of the world’s biggest natural disasters – the Boxing Day tsunami – their lives have changed dramatically.

Dan and Sally are now parents. Dan is enjoying being a stay-at-home father taking care of their young son, and Sally is the breadwinner and loves her job as a partner in a Manchester law firm. The arrangement has so far worked well, but when Dan starts to question whether Sally has got her priorities right, the cracks in their marriage begin to appear.

Dan and Sally have everything Chloe wishes for in life – a happy marriage and a beautiful child. Dumped by her long-term boyfriend just weeks after the tsunami, she’s been on a mission ever since to find the perfect father for the child she craves. When she meets Seth Hawthorne, she thinks she may have hit the jackpot. But is Seth the man she thinks he is?

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: The new Erica James book introduces us to Dan and Sally and Chloe and her ex Paul. After surviving the Tsunami, their lives are altered and they go back home to start afresh. Chloe splits up with Paul and is finding her job as GP in her village is not enough until she meets Seth Hawthorne, who she thinks can give her everyhting she wants. Sally and Dan have their son Marcus to consider and with Dan working from home and Sally being the breadwinner it doesnt take long for things to start going awry. Their lives become complicated and before long everything that can go wrong does go wrong. As usual it is written really well and makes for an enjoyable and realistic read. Erica James rarely dissapoints and although this book was good I felt the ending was too hurried.

Tell It To The Skies by Erica James

Synopsis: The beautiful city of Venice has been Lydia’s home for many years. It’s a place she loves and where she’s found a sense of peace and fulfilment. Then one day she glimpses a young man’s face in the crowd that threatens to change all that. He’s a heart-stopping reminder of a dreadful secret she believed she had banished to the past…

As a young child, Lydia and her sister are sent to live with grandparents they’ve never even met before. It’s a cruel and loveless new world for them, and it teaches Lydia to grow up fast. She learns to keep secrets and to trust sparingly. And through it all she suppresses her grief and guilt, believing she is to blame for her mother’s death.

Now, twenty-eight years later, Lydia is persuaded to leave behind the safe new life she has created for herself and return to England to face the past. And maybe her future.

Kat’s Rating: 5/5

Kat’s Review: I have to say that as an avid reader ploughing through 3-4 books a week, I always look forward to Erica James new books. Yes it is on the slightly romantic side but this book is just as good if not better that her previous publications. The story gets you from the very beginning and you find yourself sympathising with the characters very quickly. Erica’s books are always different and due to the fact that she doesn’t churn them out every 5 minutes I find that I never get bored with her stories. They are always a great read and i would strongly recommend this to people who haven’t read her books before.