A teenager abandoned and at the mercy of a 1970s London gang, Eleanor Chapman is the ‘same face’ in the romantic thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place’ by Helen J Christmas. London’s East End is the starting point for the first novel, Beginnings. Eleanor’s father must disappear from England after killing in a man in a gang war. Sixteen-year-old Eleanor is taken under the wing of her father’s boss, gang leader Sammie Maxwell. And from that point, her life spirals out of control.
Forced to work in a brothel, she escapes and joins up with another teenager-on-the-run, Dutch musician Jake. Together they attract the attention of organised crime gangs and the police. Unsure who is really chasing them, they run from hiding place to hiding place and lose the ability to judge who is trustworthy. Sharing their fears, spending every minute together, Jake and Eleanor live on borrowed time. They fall in love. At times the story takes surprising twists, sometimes the outcomes are a little more predictable. I found it a little difficult to keep track of how time was passing, they seem to fall in love very quickly, and it will be interesting to see if Eleanor’s father re-emerges in the next book.
Inevitably in the first book of a series, there is lots of setting-up, character introduction and exposition. Christmas does a great job creating Seventies colour, the food, the fashions, the neighbourhoods. In a fast-moving story, Christmas writes well about a teenager lost in a large and unforgiving world.
This is an interesting start to a series with a different premise. In book two, Visions, the action starts in 1985, 12 years after the end of Beginnings.
‘Beginnings’ by Helen J Christmas, #1 Same Face Different Place series [UK: Chichester Publishing] Buy at Amazon
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