Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft

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Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Mostly likeable, light romance, but with a predictable ending.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Choc-Lit
ISBN: 978-1906931223

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The story opens when Tess bumps her old reliable car into a breakdown truck. That's rather convenient, since she isn't hurt, and the guy driving it is able to tow her to his garage, and then give her a lift to her new home. Naturally, since this is the 'chick-lit' genre, Tess and the truck-driver, who goes by the unlikely name of Ratty (an abbreviation of his surname) feel mutual antipathy of the sort that's clearly going to lead, sooner or later, to strong attraction.

Actually the book starts a little earlier than that, with a single page prologue. It's a copy of an email sent to Tess by her ex-fiancé Olly, shortly before their wedding, saying that he's decided not to marry her. It's a good opening, demonstrating what an unpleasant man Olly is, and setting the scene for Tess beginning her life afresh in a cottage in a small village.

Naturally Tess is an object of curiosity amongst her new neighbours, and she soon makes friends with Angel, the wife of one of Ratty's colleagues. Tess is an accomplished illustrator, and there are some nice touches as she draws pictures for Angel's children, and creates new characters based on those around her. There are some interesting characters in the book, and I liked seeing how the various friendships developed. The ending was satisfactory too, albeit rather predictable.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sue Moorcroft's first novel, Uphill All the Way, so I had high hopes for this one, despite the rather fluffy cover. And there's a lot that's good about it - Tess certainly felt real, as did some of her new friends. There's some nice writing, with a few unusual metaphors which I appreciated.

There's not too much bad language, and the bedroom scenes aren't too explicit. The trouble is, there are so many bedroom scenes! There are also an incredible number of references to everyone's sex-life, past and present. Perhaps there are people who really do behave like rabbits, and discuss it openly with their friends and colleagues, but it's not the kind of world I've ever been part of. So reading - extensively, even if not explicitly - about fictional bedroom scenes is rather tedious, in my opinion. I found myself skimming more than a few times.

I also found the male characters rather flat. The 'choc-lit' publishers say that their heroes must be irresistible, but I didn't find Ratty that way at all. He's irritable, he can be very aggressive, he has tattoos on his arms, and he is competent at 'pulling' girls for one-night stands. He does have some redeeming features: he is very good with children, he can be tender, and he has a good sense of humour. But to my mind, his bad points, particularly his promiscuity, outweighed the good ones.

Olly, who reappears during the book, wasn't really believable at all; sometimes he seemed like a self-centred nerdy type, other times quite different. Ratty's two colleagues are one-dimensional, not really serving much purpose at all. And Tess's father, who seems to like Olly better than he likes her, was annoying in the extreme.

Having said all that, I'm still giving it four Bookbag stars, because, as chick-lit goes, it's a good book. I liked Tess, and I liked the village setting. I liked many things about the book, and it would be unfair to reduce the star rating merely because it wasn't as good (in my view) as the author's first novel.

Thanks to the publishers for sending the book.

If you enjoyed this, or even if you didn't, I'd certainly recommend Sue Moorcroft's first book Uphill All the Way.

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