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The School of Starting Over

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Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new beginning means starting at the bottom… right? Xander Scott is one of the youngest headteachers Leyholme Primary School has ever had. But managing over-zealous parents and their semi-feral kids proves a tricky task for shy Xander – as does keeping his mind on the job when his feelings for the new Reception teacher become more than strictly professional… At 43, Nell’s new friend Stevie Madeleine has given up on love. After losing her wife, Stevie’s decided that her four-year-old daughter Milly and cocker spaniel Red are the only girls she needs in her life. That is, until larger-than-life dog-walker Deb arrives on the scene. But will the secrets of Stevie’s past stop her new romance dead in its tracks? Meeting Xander and Stevie brings joy back into Nell’s life – but when old secrets start to surface, there may be some hard lessons to learn for them all…


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Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new Nell’s going back to school… but now she’s learning lessons of the heart Reception class teacher Nell Shackleton has a plan. At least, she had until she arrived at her new home of Humblebee Farm, a dilapidated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. But so what if the roof’s full of holes, the back door’s hanging off and there’s a sheep in the front room? Because sometimes a new beginning means starting at the bottom… right? Xander Scott is one of the youngest headteachers Leyholme Primary School has ever had. But managing over-zealous parents and their semi-feral kids proves a tricky task for shy Xander – as does keeping his mind on the job when his feelings for the new Reception teacher become more than strictly professional… At 43, Nell’s new friend Stevie Madeleine has given up on love. After losing her wife, Stevie’s decided that her four-year-old daughter Milly and cocker spaniel Red are the only girls she needs in her life. That is, until larger-than-life dog-walker Deb arrives on the scene. But will the secrets of Stevie’s past stop her new romance dead in its tracks? Meeting Xander and Stevie brings joy back into Nell’s life – but when old secrets start to surface, there may be some hard lessons to learn for them all…

30 review for The School of Starting Over

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    4.5 stars. With a title that sums up this story perfectly, we’re whisked off to the little Yorkshire village of Leyholme where in true Yorkshire style, the residents are as welcoming as they are stubborn and provide plenty of merriment along the way. Are you honestly telling me that Xander – our Xander, Xander Scott, who can barely speak to the opposite sex without having a panic attack – is a major village sex symbol?” It’s always refreshing to find characters who break the mould a little an 4.5 stars. With a title that sums up this story perfectly, we’re whisked off to the little Yorkshire village of Leyholme where in true Yorkshire style, the residents are as welcoming as they are stubborn and provide plenty of merriment along the way. Are you honestly telling me that Xander – our Xander, Xander Scott, who can barely speak to the opposite sex without having a panic attack – is a major village sex symbol?” It’s always refreshing to find characters who break the mould a little and that’s exactly what we get from the school’s interim headteacher, Xander with his awkward charm and quieter nature. The very opposite to the school’s newest teacher, Nell who, despite harbouring her own secrets, lights up any room she walks into and has no problem calling a spade a spade. And they bounce of one another perfectly. ...it means a lot that you’d wrestle a semi-feral toddler just to help me out.” But it’s not all about Nell and Xander because there’s Colin the sheep, widowed single mum, Stevie and her amble down the romantic path with dog-walker, Deb and Xander’s mum who is fighting her own struggles, and for all the moments of lightness and humour, there are those that are heartfelt, tugging on your heartstrings as you share the lower points in these characters lives. You made me new.” If you’re after a feel-good summer romance filled with love and laughter, then The School of Starting Over is the book for you. Copy received courtesy of Hera Books via NetGalley for an honest and unbiased opinion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quotes: ‘It’s not All Creatures Great and Small, Dad,’ she said impatiently. ‘There’s more to rural life these days than cousin marriage and cow-fisting.’ ‘Exceptional. You know they put that on your school report once? Exceptional’ … He could remember a few choice phrases from those reports himself. It hadn’t been all exceptionals… from his Biology teacher: ‘Alexander would do rather better if he spent more time properly studying the reproductive system diagrams and less time doodling be Favorite Quotes: ‘It’s not All Creatures Great and Small, Dad,’ she said impatiently. ‘There’s more to rural life these days than cousin marriage and cow-fisting.’ ‘Exceptional. You know they put that on your school report once? Exceptional’ … He could remember a few choice phrases from those reports himself. It hadn’t been all exceptionals… from his Biology teacher: ‘Alexander would do rather better if he spent more time properly studying the reproductive system diagrams and less time doodling beards on the testicles’. His mum was right, he was gifted. Gifted at being a little bugger. ‘It’s hard to feel sexy with a kid in your life, what with the endless bouts of screaming and bodily fluids. Life at home these days is like the director’s cut of The Exorcist, now with extra vomit.’ ‘You’re really not selling parenthood to me, you know.’ ‘Good. Save yourself, love, while you still can.’ ‘Sometimes it feels like there must’ve been some sort of special lesbian school that all the others had access to but me. You know, like a gay Hogwarts.’ ‘What, you mean you didn’t get your owl-delivered letter letting you know you were one of the lucky few who’d been selected to fancy girls?’ ‘Jacob’s not a kid, he’s Satan incarnate.’ … ‘I brought story books, a pan-pipe CD and some biscuits to help soothe the savage beast.’ ‘Did you bring a crucifix and a couple of gallons of holy water?’ ‘So are you feeling broody after that?’ Nell asked Xander when they were outside. ‘Are you kidding? I’ll be booking myself in for a vasectomy next week.’ My Review: I adored every perfectly chosen word of this cleverly amusing and well-crafted tale. I smirked and giggled-snorted with glee as Lisa Swift, AKA, Mary Jayne Baker is found treasure and a master storyteller. Reading this tale was pure delight – I had a ream of exceptionally witty highlights on my Kindle and it was painful to pare the list down and decide what to include in this review. Oh happy day, a new author to add to the very top of my list of Favorite Things. The characters were endearing, adorable, and colorfully detailed while the storylines were engaging and held my rapt attention while tickling my funny bone and teasing my curiosity in equal measure, as there was a mystery afoot and a petty and villainous bureaucrat always lurking. The banter between the main characters was quite witty and fun. The writing was simply stellar and deftly paced. I tumbled right into Ms. Swift’s story and resented all interruptions to my perusal as I didn’t want to leave it behind. When forced away from my beloved Kindle, I found I was often smiling to myself and contemplating the characters and replaying their storylines in my head while hurriedly completing the dastardly deeds and annoying intrusions to my reading known as daily living so I could return to the far more enticing story awaiting me. I struck gold with a massive influx of fun words for my Brit Word List with dead-man’s-bootsed - being in a situation where you can't advance until someone else dies or retires so you can step into their position, lecky – electricity, apeth - an affectionate term for a silly or foolish person, and off your chump – crazy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Natalia R

    The School of Starting Over by Lisa Swift is a delightful and uplifting story that will tug at your heartstrings. Set in the charming Yorkshire village of Leyholme, it follows Nell Shackleton, who has moved to Leyholme for a fresh start after a bad breakup. She is the new reception teacher at the local primary school and has bought a dilapidated farmhouse because it's all she can afford at the moment. Nell loves her new job and is enjoying village life. When she meets Stevie, they become great f The School of Starting Over by Lisa Swift is a delightful and uplifting story that will tug at your heartstrings. Set in the charming Yorkshire village of Leyholme, it follows Nell Shackleton, who has moved to Leyholme for a fresh start after a bad breakup. She is the new reception teacher at the local primary school and has bought a dilapidated farmhouse because it's all she can afford at the moment. Nell loves her new job and is enjoying village life. When she meets Stevie, they become great friends. Stevie's four-year-old daughter is one of Nell's students. Her wife died four years ago, and she has no desire to date again. But fate has other plans when Deb, the dog walker, comes into her life. But will Stevie's sad past stop her from finding love again? When Nell meets Xander, the acting headmaster, there's an immediate spark between them, but he's too shy and insecure to ask her out on a date. Xander lacks self- confidence and doesn't think he deserves to be the headmaster. He lives at home with his mom, who is having a hard time coping with her husband's suicide. With the support of Nell, the teachers, parents, and everyone in the community, we see Xander grow as a person throughout the story. I absolutely loved this sweet and touching story. The characters are lovable, including Colin the sheep and the dogs. I loved the small tight-knit community feeling and the school setting. The author deals with some deep emotional issues in a mature and sympathetic manner. As much as I love these types of books, they can be slightly predictable, so I was pleasantly surprised by the twist. I knew that Nell was hiding something, but was completely caught off guard when her secret was finally revealed. I will definitely be reading more books by Lisa Swift and highly recommend this lovely read. I received an ARC from Hera Books through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dash fan

    5☆ Heart Warming, Uplifting, Poignant, Funny and Tender, A Must Read! The School of Starting Over is a fabulous book, the cover is stunning, it's a poignant, compelling, heart warming and cosy rom com that I didn't want to end! Nell has just moved to Humblebee Farm and started her new job as a Reception Class Teacher. Xander is also New and is the Current Head teacher for Leyholme Primary School. But he is realising he may of bitten off more than he can chew, as it's not any easy job especially whe 5☆ Heart Warming, Uplifting, Poignant, Funny and Tender, A Must Read! The School of Starting Over is a fabulous book, the cover is stunning, it's a poignant, compelling, heart warming and cosy rom com that I didn't want to end! Nell has just moved to Humblebee Farm and started her new job as a Reception Class Teacher. Xander is also New and is the Current Head teacher for Leyholme Primary School. But he is realising he may of bitten off more than he can chew, as it's not any easy job especially when you have the Chair of Governors on your case! But when Nell and Xander meet its quiet clear there is a lil sizzle of chemistry. But Xander isn't your typical leading man, he's shy, not confident and finds it hard to Express himself, which makes him all the more endearing, charming and loveable. Watching Xander grow as a person and Head Teacher was so heart warming to watch. I was willing Nell and Xander to get together. But Nell isn't just settling in at her new job, and fitting in with the community and making friends, she's also dealing with her Farm House that certainly has it's fair share of problems and in need of renovations. The School of Starting Over is such a fantastic book, it's not just a rom com there is so much more, a sprinkling of mystery, twists, secrets, bullying issues, drama, community spirit, friendships, fitting it and new beginnings. I loved the light hearted humour mixed with the tender moments it just added to the depth. The characters were a quirky bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, even the adorable Dogs and Colin the sheep lol The School of Starting Over is the perfect Title for this gorgeous book, it compliments the plot perfectly! So if you are looking for a new women's fiction / romcom that has an adorable cover, is heart warming, uplifting, poignant, funny and tender then, The School of Starting Over Is the PERFECT book for you! Thank you to Rachel Random Resources for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily. My Review is also on my Blog Website :- https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/2020/0...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    Ahh a lovely book. Great one liners and banter between the characters, several laugh out loud moments. Based in a school and a small village where everyone knows everybody. I really liked the main characters including the sheep and the dogs. Another great rom com by Lisa Swift.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    What a brilliant read this proved to be, it will definitely be one of my favourite reads for 2020 and I can't recommend it highly enough. My advice is read the book, not my review! Anyway, for those of you that are still reading this . . . . Nell Shackleton has made a big change in her life, moving to Humblebee Farm on the Yorkshire moors and starting a new job as the reception teacher at Leyholme Primary School. She's moved from a prestigious, highly rated school to this little village school. H What a brilliant read this proved to be, it will definitely be one of my favourite reads for 2020 and I can't recommend it highly enough. My advice is read the book, not my review! Anyway, for those of you that are still reading this . . . . Nell Shackleton has made a big change in her life, moving to Humblebee Farm on the Yorkshire moors and starting a new job as the reception teacher at Leyholme Primary School. She's moved from a prestigious, highly rated school to this little village school. Her new home is falling to pieces, has a leaky roof and a ram has moved in! She names the sheep Colin and he's one of my favourite characters in this fantastic story, along with Red, the mischievous cocker spaniel belonging to villagers Stevie Madeleine and her four year old daughter Milly. The new acting head teacher at the school is Xander Scott and he's certainly not sure he wants his new role! When Nell and Xander meet there's an obvious spark between them but he's so unsure of himself and shy you wonder if he will ever get the courage to ask her out. Actually his growth in confidence through the story is brilliantly portrayed and lovely to follow. This whole community is superbly developed, with characters to love and others to dislike, especially the Chair of Governors - but I'm not telling you any more about him! It is a heartwarming story with laugh out loud moments but it also has some very moving moments and plenty of surprises in store for readers. Having been a primary teacher for more years than I care to remember, this story brought back memories and I found it very easy to relate to. The mix of staff, pupils and parents, involving the community in events and so much more was so true to life - though the twists in this story were, fortunately, nothing I'd encountered in real life. This is a superb read with a delightful community, fabulous characters and a surprising twist that I definitely didn't see coming. It is a heartwarming story, a real page turner and a book I highly recommend you read. I requested and was gifted a copy of this book via NetGalley and this is my honest review after choosing to read it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Gorgeous. I love a good male character, and Xander is a brilliant example of a modern man, strong and vulnerable to boot. Utterly loved this book from start to finish. Hilarious, packed full of Yorkshire joy, sorrow and the stuff of real life, with stories and characters I have sown into my heart for safekeeping. Brilliant. More please Lisa ♥️

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shalini

    Wow. What a book!! With the world outside in such a mess, this was one book which was like a oasis in the desert. The writing was beautiful where the author brought complete joy to my heart. Nell and Xander were delightful, I loved their banter. The storyline felt as if it were made for them or they were made for this. The author was simply a masterful storyteller who would keep me completely absorbed in their love (I normally don't read their love stories). The humor in the prose made me cackle Wow. What a book!! With the world outside in such a mess, this was one book which was like a oasis in the desert. The writing was beautiful where the author brought complete joy to my heart. Nell and Xander were delightful, I loved their banter. The storyline felt as if it were made for them or they were made for this. The author was simply a masterful storyteller who would keep me completely absorbed in their love (I normally don't read their love stories). The humor in the prose made me cackle like a witch. The mystery in the story soothed by thriller-y heart. The writing was delightful and soothing to my soul. The book brought me respite for a couple of hours in these turbulent times. Warm hearted welcome was what I got from this book. A wonderful read from beginning to end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Gilbey

    After a slow start to the book, which was needed so that you really knew the characters and their back stories properly, suddenly the book became simply amazing! Completely took me by surprise, I mean there were hints throughout that you didn't have all the information even as a reader seeing multiple characters lives, but I didn't see that coming until perhaps last last possibly minute. I'm not even sure I want to tell you what the book is about, or any details, as I know I went in blind and wa After a slow start to the book, which was needed so that you really knew the characters and their back stories properly, suddenly the book became simply amazing! Completely took me by surprise, I mean there were hints throughout that you didn't have all the information even as a reader seeing multiple characters lives, but I didn't see that coming until perhaps last last possibly minute. I'm not even sure I want to tell you what the book is about, or any details, as I know I went in blind and was richly rewarded for it. I literally picked to read this due to the fact it had school in the title (and I loved books set in schools even as a kid), and knowing that Lisa Swift also writes as Mary Jayne Baker, so knew I'd be able to trust the writing. I hadn't really acknowledged the blurb at least until after I'd started reading! There are some completely memorable characters: Ryan - as the school governor that is a thorn in poor Xander's side. I was so frustrated whenever that bully appeared, and he seemed to hate Xander. Xander being the male lead, rather unsure of himself and his new position as acting head, full of nerves, he really is very cute, unlikely but none the less lovely person. Colin the sheep who only makes a few cameos, but we meet early into the book and always made me smile. Red the border setter, along with his 4 year old Millie are an adorable pairing, Red is rather mischievous and Millie is just adorable. I loved her mum Stevie's friendships both with Nell, the new reception teacher and also a new friendship with her dog walker Deb. Stevie is so brave and inspirational, I really took to her, and enjoyed any pages she was present on. You definitely need to keep an eye out for her back story, its painful but the way it is written about, is just right, And then there is Nell, who has moved to this village, bought frankly a wreck of a farmhouse to live in and renovate and initially knows no one there. Her vision for World Book Day was spot on, and I loved how the whole school embraced it. Oh there are so many deep issues in this book, and it means all these characters are well rounded, living and breathing humans who you could possibly find in your local pub. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and delighted to see a different angle to this author's writing arsenal which is becoming rather impressive. Thank you to Hera and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fay Flude

    The beautiful cover just beckons you inside the pages to discover the charms of a host of characters living in the Yorkshire village of Leyholme. Nell Shackleton has bought the ramshackle Humblebee Farm cottage and will be the new Reception teacher at the primary school. Xander is the acting deputy head and a socially awkward but extremely endearing man who is missing teaching his Year 3 class and battling with confidence issues. There is a horrid Chair of Governors Ryan Theakston and some jolly t The beautiful cover just beckons you inside the pages to discover the charms of a host of characters living in the Yorkshire village of Leyholme. Nell Shackleton has bought the ramshackle Humblebee Farm cottage and will be the new Reception teacher at the primary school. Xander is the acting deputy head and a socially awkward but extremely endearing man who is missing teaching his Year 3 class and battling with confidence issues. There is a horrid Chair of Governors Ryan Theakston and some jolly teachers and parents including Stevie Madeleine and her daughter Milly. The cast is not limited to humans and there is a lot of animal love for dogs Red and Life and sheep Colin! We follow the ups and downs of life and love through the relationships between characters with mostly very funny highlights and plenty of soul searching and sadder moments all topped off with burgeoning romances. I love the warmth of this book, it's uplifting nature, it's essence of goodness in a real world that can be grim, so that reading it is a hot chocolate on a cold night, a warm bath for aching limbs and the fluffiest blanket you can find. As a primary teacher myself I loved the fact that this story is based in a village school and on events that are believable but funny.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anna || BooksandBookends

    Nell has left a job at a prestigious primary school and has relocated to a tiny village school in Leyholme, Yorkshire. She's moved into farmhouse in an idyllic location which needs a lot more work than she initially anticipated. It's in such a state of disrepair that Colin the sheep seems to have become a permanent resident inside the barn with the leaky roof and open back door. She's got a new start in the primary school and can't wait to settle into the quirky village and potentially uncover s Nell has left a job at a prestigious primary school and has relocated to a tiny village school in Leyholme, Yorkshire. She's moved into farmhouse in an idyllic location which needs a lot more work than she initially anticipated. It's in such a state of disrepair that Colin the sheep seems to have become a permanent resident inside the barn with the leaky roof and open back door. She's got a new start in the primary school and can't wait to settle into the quirky village and potentially uncover some secrets too. This story was fantastic and completely took me by surprise. It's so much more than I was initially expecting. It's a real feel-good romance with superb secrets and mysteries interspersed throughout. All of the characters are so realistic and brilliantly written that this was a delight to read. I don't want to reveal any more than that, it's full of mystery and you need to go and read and reveal the secrets yourself. Colin the sheep was my favourite character and he's so minor but hilarious I loved him! The cheeky dogs in the story were fantastic too. It's such a different and refreshing read that I just can't recommend it enough. The best romance book I've read this year. I need to read more books by Lisa Swift!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Normann

    This is my first Lisa Swift book and it has been a such an enjoyable read. Just what I needed on a rainy day. The characters are believable and easy to fall in love with and the twist took me completely by surprise.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susanne Baker

    What a brilliant book! Story didn’t pan out as I was expecting, which was a good thing- I love being surprised! I won’t comment about the story as I think it’s best read without any prior knowledge. So many fabulous characters and a gorgeous community, it’s a really lovely feel good read. Such realistic characters that you soon become emotionally invested in and situations that keep you entertained. Loved the character of Xander, so honest and down to earth, you can’t help becoming fond of him! Ne What a brilliant book! Story didn’t pan out as I was expecting, which was a good thing- I love being surprised! I won’t comment about the story as I think it’s best read without any prior knowledge. So many fabulous characters and a gorgeous community, it’s a really lovely feel good read. Such realistic characters that you soon become emotionally invested in and situations that keep you entertained. Loved the character of Xander, so honest and down to earth, you can’t help becoming fond of him! Nell is a character that you instantly warm to and want to befriend, and the same with Stevie. Such a pleasurable read, I will definitely be seeking out further books by this talented author.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Burton

    What a lovely, lovely book. This is the story of three ordinary people putting their lives back together after tragedy and about the importance of connection and friendship. Xander, Stevie and Nell are all wonderful complex characters who grow and learn throughout the book and, with the help of each other, learn to put the past behind them and become better versions of themselves. I laughed, I cried and I highly recommend this wonderful read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I absolutely adore Lisa's work, and this certainly made my reading experience a happy one. I laughed so much, The cover is gorgeous, the characters are very likeable with a strong modern male in the mix. This is a book which made me smile, made me have a tear in my eye, but most of all, this book made me want more. A heartwarming gem of a book and all made in Yorkshire.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gmr

    Side note, I happened to notice that the last two books I read (including this one) featured potential romantic couples with the woman either being in a seat of power or being the more powerful character. Nothing wrong with that and while the first wasn't as high hitting for me, this one surprisingly was. Grant it, I went into both with high hopes, and while I wasn't disappointed, I was left deciphering why exactly there was a difference. Here's what I came up with... Instead of instilled power, Side note, I happened to notice that the last two books I read (including this one) featured potential romantic couples with the woman either being in a seat of power or being the more powerful character. Nothing wrong with that and while the first wasn't as high hitting for me, this one surprisingly was. Grant it, I went into both with high hopes, and while I wasn't disappointed, I was left deciphering why exactly there was a difference. Here's what I came up with... Instead of instilled power, this female character's (Nell) strength came from what she's been through in life, the betrayals she's faced, and the challenges she overcame. I loved her for all her flaws as well as her pluses, such as a big heart that couldn't seem to say no to Kevin (he's a sheep...yep...trust me, it works), her tact when handling a less than trusting parent, and her way of seeing through to the heart of people that allowed her to give them what they needed. In this one, Xander is more on the unsure side of things and has a certain amount of sweetness (dare I say cuteness?) that while not swoon worthy exactly was definitely heart melting. I loved how he was so generous with the children, but when it came to the opposite sex, he clammed up like Fort Knox. I wasn't certain about his level of insecurity, but it became endearing once you got to know him. In fact, the whole town was noteworthy in some fashion, so you really couldn't leave a stone turned over without falling into someone else's life. All in all, a great romantic comedy with a lot of heart. The leading lad and lass were so wonderful you couldn't help but root for them...yet they weren't the only ones worth rooting! Look for the dual story line that gives our gal Stevie a chance at a new romance, and readers another potential couple to fall in love with! **ebook received for review; opinions are my own

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to Netgalley for a pre publication copy. In return for an honest review! #theschoolofstartingover #netgalley Nell has just split up with her fiancée Shawn who has cheated on her. In order to start afresh she moves to the small village of Leyholme where everyone knows everything. Nell is a primary teacher and meets the shy but irresistible Alexander Scott. Can they both get over their own troubles? Will things go smoothly for Nell and Xander! The beautiful cover attracted me to this book Thank you to Netgalley for a pre publication copy. In return for an honest review! #theschoolofstartingover #netgalley Nell has just split up with her fiancée Shawn who has cheated on her. In order to start afresh she moves to the small village of Leyholme where everyone knows everything. Nell is a primary teacher and meets the shy but irresistible Alexander Scott. Can they both get over their own troubles? Will things go smoothly for Nell and Xander! The beautiful cover attracted me to this book. The colourful full car racing into the colourful scenery, farm and sky really made me want to find out what this book had to offer. This book is a great romance read. It is a beautiful story that gently unfolds making nothing feel too heavy. When you get 50% in you really can’t see where this book can go but the twists and turns taken you on a rollercoaster of a ride. Whilst your totally invested in the characters happy ending. All the characters have their own unique personality which shines through at every point. They are all strong independent people who have love and life lessons to tell. They just need to confidence to tell them. The lessons and wisdom they provide throughout this book has such a light spiritual feeling that I know every reader will take something from this book. This book covers some emotional subjects such as; divorce, adoption, estranged parents, rape and low self esteem. However none of these subjects detracts from the read. It just allows for extra character building, overcoming the worst in life and more invaluable life lessons. Also this book is a page Turner from the very first sentence. You will not want to put it down and you just want to hug all the characters. Especially Nell and Stevie.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanne D'Arcy

    Nell Shackleton's dream is to live in a cottage in the countryside and be at one with nature and the community. And in some ways the purchasing of Humblebee Farm is that - she is at one with the nature the house does not have much of a roof and she is part of the community as she is the new Reception School teacher.  It seems that Nell has it all? Xander Scott is the temporary Headteacher at the village school and he is battling his own demons alongside trying to deal with parents, new teachers an Nell Shackleton's dream is to live in a cottage in the countryside and be at one with nature and the community. And in some ways the purchasing of Humblebee Farm is that - she is at one with the nature the house does not have much of a roof and she is part of the community as she is the new Reception School teacher.  It seems that Nell has it all? Xander Scott is the temporary Headteacher at the village school and he is battling his own demons alongside trying to deal with parents, new teachers and rather irritating school governors. Xander wanted more than village life but finds himself back there and suddenly he does not want to leave. Is it something to do with Nell? Stevie Blake her adorable daughter Millie and a mad dog called Red are the only things she needs in life, after having give up on love when she lost her wife. But something is eating away at Stevie and it seems that perhaps love could come knocking again if only she would deal with the past.  This book starts strong and builds all the characters up, you are immediately invested in them, you care about them or are simply irritated by them as is the case of school governor Ryan who clearly has something of the school bully still left in him.  Not only is this a book with a great community spirit, what better way to bring everyone together than a village school. But it has lots of romance, it has tragedy and contemporary issues. The actions of the past, present and potentially the future of some of the main characters makes it more than a fluffy piece of romantic fiction. The cover suggests one thing - you get much more in the pages of the book inbetween.  A great read which leaves you satisfied and your heart warmed. What more could you want from a book?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Lovely, heartwarming story of connecting lives in small-town England🌄 😌 What a lovely story, alternately funny, warm, romantic, and tearfully emotional. From Nell's first night in her leaking house huddled with a stray sheep, I was hooked. Some way into the story a mystery surfaces about heroine Nell's background and occasional odd comments from her family that indicate a secret kept from her friends. Little clues pop up until finally, her romantic interest/acting boss Xander learns the truth. Ma Lovely, heartwarming story of connecting lives in small-town England🌄 😌 What a lovely story, alternately funny, warm, romantic, and tearfully emotional. From Nell's first night in her leaking house huddled with a stray sheep, I was hooked. Some way into the story a mystery surfaces about heroine Nell's background and occasional odd comments from her family that indicate a secret kept from her friends. Little clues pop up until finally, her romantic interest/acting boss Xander learns the truth. Major upheaval results. 🤗 In the meantime, author Lisa Swift builds a lovely community of adorable tots and their parents, devoted teachers and some singles who end up finding second chances at love. Xander and Nell quickly establish a fun rapport that promises a closer partnership. I adored hero Xander's exhausted friends Sarah and Justin and their whirlwind two-year-old Jacob. Justin's efforts to chat up Stevie on a night at the local pub and Xander's babysitting efforts were priceless. And young Milly, dedicated mountaineer and storybook heroine, steals so many scenes. I loved it all!😍 The heavy emotional burden that widowed, single mother Stevie carries and her supportive connection to newcomer Nell were compelling, as was the grief Xander and his mother were still dealing with. Just so many captivating life stories woven together to achieve a novel with lots of heart. What a joy to read!👍👍 Thanks to publisher Hera Books and NetGalley for providing a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Nell Shackleton has moved to Humblebee Farm in the village of Leyholme. She was to be the new Reception Teacher at the village school. Her new home was less like a farm and more like a barn with its leaking roof, broken back door and resident sheep she named Colin after her Dad. At the grand old age of 28, she’d just broken up with Shawn right before their wedding, left their flat in Manchester, finished her beloved job in the school and suddenly found herself single, homeless and unemployed. Sh Nell Shackleton has moved to Humblebee Farm in the village of Leyholme. She was to be the new Reception Teacher at the village school. Her new home was less like a farm and more like a barn with its leaking roof, broken back door and resident sheep she named Colin after her Dad. At the grand old age of 28, she’d just broken up with Shawn right before their wedding, left their flat in Manchester, finished her beloved job in the school and suddenly found herself single, homeless and unemployed. She told herself there is only one way from here and it’s up. She wanted Humblebee Farm so much because she knew it was the last place that Shawn would have ever wanted to live in, she took an infinite amount of satisfaction at the idea of living anywhere Shawn would have hated. Over on the other side of the village Xander Scott was getting ready for his first day as Acting Headteacher at Leyholme Primary School, his Mum Anne had made him a cake to celebrate this monumental day. He was only acting until Jeremy was well enough to return then he’d go back to being a full-time teacher. He really didn’t know what he was going to do all day long, what do headteachers actually do apart from answer a few emails and keep busy. He knew he needed to welcome the new Reception Teacher to the school and he’d arrange to see her at breaktime to do just that. I had a lovely time following the characters of the village go about their daily lives focused around the village school. A very well written book and a joy to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ems. (afternoonbookery)

    *Apologies for the delay in this review* This is exactly the sort of book i adore the most, a heartbreak, fleeing to a quaint little village - meet the community & blossoming relationships with more drama. This is also exactly the sort of book i wanted to read right now to escape the reality of the ever changing world around us. Nell has just split from her fiance when they were due to get married and fled away from her dad and stepmums because whats worse than living with your parents. Well the c *Apologies for the delay in this review* This is exactly the sort of book i adore the most, a heartbreak, fleeing to a quaint little village - meet the community & blossoming relationships with more drama. This is also exactly the sort of book i wanted to read right now to escape the reality of the ever changing world around us. Nell has just split from her fiance when they were due to get married and fled away from her dad and stepmums because whats worse than living with your parents. Well the cottage she bought under a dream bubble is looking pretty much that, with no electric, gas and a major problem with the roof - oh and a guest sheep that basically lives there too. However she has a new job and this can be a new start. Xander Scott has just been promoted to one of the youngest headteachers the area has ever had and its something that is making is anxiety spike. He can do it though - and when the new teacher comes along full of life, something about him starts to change. Nell - with her new army of friends including the wonderful Stevie sets about finding her happy place, but all is not as it seems and when Xander discovers something he probably shouldn't, the world around them all changes. Honestly this book was a pure delight, it was sweet, heart warming but heart breaking sometimes too. I adored the whole cast of characters who all had such strong personalities. A great read and something for those who want to keep their heads in the clouds. *Gifted for blog tour*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kerry https://likeherdingcatsblog.wordpress.com Robinson

    Despite spending most of my time inside one, I cannot resist a heartwarming novel based around a school and it’s interesting array of characters and believe me – it is a fairly accurate representation of school life and the personalities you may come across. This is my first novel by Lisa Swift/Mary Jayne Baker and it certainly will not be my last. The first part of the book moves at a slower, but necessary pace, and really spends time developing the main characters and their stories. Each charac Despite spending most of my time inside one, I cannot resist a heartwarming novel based around a school and it’s interesting array of characters and believe me – it is a fairly accurate representation of school life and the personalities you may come across. This is my first novel by Lisa Swift/Mary Jayne Baker and it certainly will not be my last. The first part of the book moves at a slower, but necessary pace, and really spends time developing the main characters and their stories. Each character is written to compliment each other and brings a vulnerability to the bigger picture as well as support for other characters. Amongst the main characters are vibrant new teacher Nell who hides a devastating secret, Xander the gentle head and a school full of unpredictable children. The typically Yorkshire village of Leyholme, is a cosy setting and feels so familiar and welcoming and I’m really hoping there will be more stories from these characters and Leyholme. This novel made me laugh, cry and warmed my insides. It really has everything. I loved this heartwarming novel and I highly recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I thought that this was a lovely story! It was just the type of book that I wanted to read at the moment, I have been really poorly of late and it was great to be able to get away reading the book and to immerse myself if the story of Nell, Xander and Stevie – they were all fabulous characters in their own ways, their interaction was great and I loved how well they worked together and with the plot and best of all they all came over as genuine and believabl https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I thought that this was a lovely story! It was just the type of book that I wanted to read at the moment, I have been really poorly of late and it was great to be able to get away reading the book and to immerse myself if the story of Nell, Xander and Stevie – they were all fabulous characters in their own ways, their interaction was great and I loved how well they worked together and with the plot and best of all they all came over as genuine and believable and I think that really helped with my enjoyment I did find the book was a little slow to start but that really helped with introducing the characters and setting the scene and the pace soon build up and I found myself flying through the pages to see how it would all end – I loved it from cover to cover – it was a heart-warming story and the perfect pick me up! It is 4.5 stars from me for this one, rounded up to 5 stars for Goodreads and Amazon – I thought it was a fun read with some fabulous characters and I really enjoyed it – highly recommended!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    This was the first book that I have read from this author and it did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It follows Nell, who resigns from her previous prestigious teaching job (due to a bad breakup caused by her cheating fiance!), who moves to a village school and buys a rundown farmhouse, because that is all that she can afford. From there, we see Nell settle into village living, making friendships, and teaching at a small school. She loves her students and meets a fellow teacher n This was the first book that I have read from this author and it did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It follows Nell, who resigns from her previous prestigious teaching job (due to a bad breakup caused by her cheating fiance!), who moves to a village school and buys a rundown farmhouse, because that is all that she can afford. From there, we see Nell settle into village living, making friendships, and teaching at a small school. She loves her students and meets a fellow teacher named Xander Scott, who is a fidgety, insecure, awkward man. Friendship ensues and we see Xander grow as a person throughout the book. What I liked most about this book was the storyline, the likeable and believeable characters, the twists and turns of the storyline (hello - secrets!) and the ending was the sweetest. Go and read this book - you will be glad you did! Thanks #netgalley for the ARC of this book. I am happy I took a chance on a book by an author that I have never read before but now am a fan of! #theschoolofstartingover #chicklit #romance

  25. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Daydream Reader

    The School of Starting over was my first Lisa Swift book and I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s a feel-good book, which indulges you in all the wholesome warm and cosies you could want from a romance. The characters are a lively, eclectic bunch and there is plenty of humour from main and supporting cast members. I was invested in their stories and really rooted for them,especially since some of the issues they face are much deeper than expected. I have to give a special mention to Xander wh The School of Starting over was my first Lisa Swift book and I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s a feel-good book, which indulges you in all the wholesome warm and cosies you could want from a romance. The characters are a lively, eclectic bunch and there is plenty of humour from main and supporting cast members. I was invested in their stories and really rooted for them,especially since some of the issues they face are much deeper than expected. I have to give a special mention to Xander who is the perfect, unassuming hero (ahhh, hearty-eyes). The plot had me hooked; there was drama, secrets and a little bit of mystery throughout! Once thing I loved was how deep the author dug for a popular reference that was probably less mainstream than most - I had a few ‘oh my god I remember that’ moments! All in all there was nothing to dislike about this book (other than having to put it down at the end). If heartwarming, contemporary romance with laughs and feels is your thing; it’s a must-read! Genre: Contemporary romance / Romantic comedy Rating: 5/5

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    Heartwarming, humorous, immersive and poignant. ‘The School of Starting Over’, evokes so many emotions in the reader, as you discover the secrets hiding within the complex and relatable characters. A new beginning for Nell in a rundown farmhouse, her heart’s battered and she wants a new start. Reading, the first few chapters I was expecting a lighthearted rom-com, with lots of interactive village gossip. Whilst. this is superficially what this story delivers there is so much more as you read on. J Heartwarming, humorous, immersive and poignant. ‘The School of Starting Over’, evokes so many emotions in the reader, as you discover the secrets hiding within the complex and relatable characters. A new beginning for Nell in a rundown farmhouse, her heart’s battered and she wants a new start. Reading, the first few chapters I was expecting a lighthearted rom-com, with lots of interactive village gossip. Whilst. this is superficially what this story delivers there is so much more as you read on. Just, when you are relaxing, and enjoying the happy ever afters you expected, the plot twists into an emotional family drama, which resonates. The story’s main protagonists’ happiness is intricately connected. and like a house of cards. it could disappear without a trace. Vivid characters, heartrending conflict and an authentic Yorkshire village ethos and setting make this addictive reading. I received a copy of this book from Hera Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pam Robertson

    In this feelgood story, you feel as though you are part of the village community. There are lots of secondary characters who Nell meets as she starts again at the local school and they all add something to the feeling of community. Just right for a local school. In Xander, you have someone who is certainly not typecast. He has several insecurities and as you find out about his family, you realise that he has been carrying a secret for quite some time. There are some deftly drawn, humorous episo In this feelgood story, you feel as though you are part of the village community. There are lots of secondary characters who Nell meets as she starts again at the local school and they all add something to the feeling of community. Just right for a local school. In Xander, you have someone who is certainly not typecast. He has several insecurities and as you find out about his family, you realise that he has been carrying a secret for quite some time. There are some deftly drawn, humorous episodes. Many of them involve Colin, a sheep who seems to adopt Nell and who really brings a smile to your face. As you discover, Nell has a few secrets of her own, but she is a thoroughly sympathetic character who is so different to Xander. With lots of love, merriment and humour, this is a great read to light up what can be a sombre world at the moment. In short: A sparkling romcom to enjoy. Thanks to the author for a copy of the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Monica Mac

    With all the doom and gloom lately, I needed a book that gave me a bit of sunshine and this book certainly delivered that :) The main characters, Xander and Nell, are two unlucky-in-love people who meet at work. They are both teachers. Xander is an awkward, geeky kind of fella who has had to take on headmaster duties when he really didn't want to. Then along comes Nell, a woman who comes to work at his school, a tiny village school, despite having been a teacher at a large, prestigious school at With all the doom and gloom lately, I needed a book that gave me a bit of sunshine and this book certainly delivered that :) The main characters, Xander and Nell, are two unlucky-in-love people who meet at work. They are both teachers. Xander is an awkward, geeky kind of fella who has had to take on headmaster duties when he really didn't want to. Then along comes Nell, a woman who comes to work at his school, a tiny village school, despite having been a teacher at a large, prestigious school at her last workplace. There is a story behind this, of course. This novel was multi-layered and I really enjoyed the secondary characters and their stories as well. I found myself laughing, going "awww" and even shedding a tear or two. It was exactly the tonic I needed during this difficult time. 5 stars from me. Thank you to NetGalley and Hera Books for the read, my apologies for my delay in reading it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ceri Evans

    She's done it again! I absolutely love this author. I find it difficult to put into words how I feel about this book, which is why this review has taken me 48 hours to write. It is a beautiful emotional rollercoaster! I absolutely adore the characters Lisa creates, especially the male ones 😉 and Xander is no different. He is shy, awkward, anxious... but can he put his insecurities and troubles aside to find love and success? I also identified with Nell so much. This book was really about the brav She's done it again! I absolutely love this author. I find it difficult to put into words how I feel about this book, which is why this review has taken me 48 hours to write. It is a beautiful emotional rollercoaster! I absolutely adore the characters Lisa creates, especially the male ones 😉 and Xander is no different. He is shy, awkward, anxious... but can he put his insecurities and troubles aside to find love and success? I also identified with Nell so much. This book was really about the bravery and difficulties of starting over, but I was really rooting for Nell to find happiness from day one. I was completely sidelined by the twist as you to come to know (no spoilers) that she didn't just choose Humblebee Farm because it was an excellent deal. So why is she there? And can she really leave the past behind and have a fresh start? I absolutely adored this book and I have no hesitation of giving it 5 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Dagg

    This book is a lot of fun, rich with comedy, community spirit and optimism. It’s not without a sprinkling of darker issues, such as bullying, office – or rather school board – politics and relationship failures. These are well handled and add to the overall enjoyment of the book in that it keeps its feet in reality. We meet a host of interesting characters, human, canine and ovine alike, and they’re all fascinating in their own way and have a part to play. The author has a warm, absorbing style th This book is a lot of fun, rich with comedy, community spirit and optimism. It’s not without a sprinkling of darker issues, such as bullying, office – or rather school board – politics and relationship failures. These are well handled and add to the overall enjoyment of the book in that it keeps its feet in reality. We meet a host of interesting characters, human, canine and ovine alike, and they’re all fascinating in their own way and have a part to play. The author has a warm, absorbing style that makes the book gallop along. She can make you laugh and sigh, feel gooey one moment and annoyed the next as you follow the main characters’ ups and down and meet their challenges along with them. It’s an uplifting read, a reminder that there is a lot that’s right with the world alongside the many things that are wrong, and makes for a wonderful, energising escape from the latter.

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