on Nov. 25, 2012 :
This is the first book from Jay Howard I have read, and I really enjoyed the experience.
I have to be honest here, if I could tag half a star to my rating, New Beginnings would definitely be worthy of a four and a half star review.
Maggie the beautiful matriarch of the McTavish family is the long-suffering wife has of the devilish Iain. While Maggie is warm-hearted, loveable, and a big softie when it comes to dogs, Iain is the opposite. Moody, tempestuous – Maggie would call him passionate, and with a history of a string of failed and fateful affairs, it’s difficult to fathom why Maggie puts up with him.
I say, all kudos to Maggie for staying married to Iain. He is not deserving of her generous warm spirit. Iain is flawed, and admittedly it was really hard for me to like him. Even towards the end of the story, I never felt his honesty, and authentic connection to Maggie, and those he supposedly loves.
Their children, Chloe and James, are very different. Chloe, bubbly, talented and a charming flirt, and her boyfriend, Joel, seem to be destined for the altar. Or, so everyone would believe. Yet Chloe who is desperate to get out of the clutches of PR so she can focus on her interior design business falls for Italian charms.
Meanwhile her brother James is happily married to Keela. They’re excited about the imminent arrival of their first child. That, and the market garden they established on family land keeps them busy.
New Beginnings is mostly set in the quaint English village of Holmsford. The story travels to London, and Glasgow, where the ancestral home of the McTavish’s is located. It’s here we learn about the destructive power of secrets, and the healing power of love.
Jay Howard is at her creative best when introducing and describing the different characters of the village of Holmsford. Her writing paints a picture postcard place so unique and loveable, you feel like you want to skip work for the day and go pay a visit. A drink in the local pub would be my first stop! The setting, and the fact its Christmas time, lends itself to beautiful descriptive winter wonderland scenes, and festive storytelling.
Some of the characters, and settings were deserving of more build up and description. An example is the introduction of Tanya, and towards the end when Chloe knowingly drops a crucial bombshell right in Maggie’s lap.
New Beginnings is a wonderful romance weaving a touch of good old-fashioned morals and values, with the glamour of living in a modern world. The added touch of the writer’s obvious love of animals, and music shines giving the story a huge beating heart. Mitzi and Deefor certainly stole my heart.
Secrets, conflicts, relationship issues, betrayal, glamour, and love make up the DNA of New Beginnings.
Readers looking for a light-hearted story with some of the characters as friendly as the neighbours you know and love won’t be disappointed. New Beginnings is a romantic read. If you are looking for something dark and sinister, this story isn’t for you.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
on Nov. 3, 2012 :
The McTavishes are back!
Christmas is coming, and the inhabitants of the small community of Holmsford are in full swing. Caught up in the rush of festive preparations, Maggie is struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of her husband's infidelity, his car crash, and his long convalescence.
It is Chloe, Maggie's beautiful and headstrong daughter who takes centre stage on this occasion, however. Desperate to find love and make a success of her new interior design business, Chloe does not care who she hurts along the way. Rushing headlong into a relationship with her newest and biggest client, the handsome Alesso, she ditches her lover, Joel, by letter and roars off in his car on Christmas morning.
Chloe decides to re-establish contact with her estranged grandparents in Glasgow, and in so doing, uncovers a dark family secret which threatens to destroy her parents and push Maggie over the edge.
Book Two of the Changes Family Saga continues in much the same vein as the first. It is extremely well written, full of convincing and authentic characters, and is a fine study of relationships amongst family, friends, lovers and community. As it journeys towards its satisfying conclusion, it sketches a beautifully detailed picture of life in a rural English village, and the folk who live and work there.
However, all is not as it seems. The author artfully intertwines all the characters stories in a fine mesh of twisting sub-plot, with a few surprises thrown in.
As the story reaches its happy ending, I can't help feeling this is not the end. Too many stories were left unfinished, too many questions left unanswered. Has Chloe found her knight in shining armour? Has she really settled down? Does jilted Joel come looking for her, throwing her into confusion? Do Maggie and Iain overcome their difficulties and renew their love? How does Hilda cope, now that her saucy secret is out? How do the new faces fit into this long established community?
There must be a Book Three on its way. Can I order my copy now?
(reviewed the day of purchase)