The Last Beginning


Title: The Last Beginning

Author: Lauren James

Series: The Next Together, #2

Publisher: Walker Books

Release Date: October 6th 2016


Four Stars

The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

– Blurb courtesy of

This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

‘CLOVE, please confirm the birth dates of your parents KATHERINE FINCHLEY and MATTHEW GALLOWAY. I have detected multiple records which suggest a 95.6% probability of identifying as your parents. However logic suggests this is not possible, as many of the records are outside if the expected time range.
The earliest dates back to 1745.’

It’s been sixteen years since Kate gave birth to her daughter, sixteen years since she helped Matt escape from prison before the two of them disappeared off the face of the earth. Now, sixteen years old, Clove has finally been told the truth about who her real parents are, having previously believed Matt’s brother Tom was her real father. For a while she isn’t able to cope with the knowledge that her whole life has been a lie, but then to take control of the situation she decides that she needs to discover where her birth parents disappeared to.

While searching it’s Clove’s AI who discovers images of Katherine and Matthew as far back as 1745 during the siege of Carlisle against the Jacobite’s. Unsure whether these are her parents or simply ancestors Clove needs their DNA to compare to hers to be sure. Luckily the time machine her parents have been working on is ‘safe’ for travel and Clove successfully uses it to make a trip back to 1745.

But once there there are things that happen that are outside of Clove’s control. Using the name Aline Clove and Ella, a girl she meets along the way who saved her life, get jobs as maids in Katherine’s aunts home. However Clove has arrived too soon and Katherine is not yet living with her aunt. In the meantime she manages to get close to Matthew but ends up revealing too much to him about who she is and who he is to her.

“We have to go! Now! If you’re running out of memory then I could be stranded!”

When Clove arrives back in 2056 however things have changed, and not for the better. Messing in the past, even revealing as little to Matthew as she did, has changed the present for the worst and now Clove is on a race against time to find a working time machine and fix the mistakes she made.

There were a lot of questions I had at the end of The Next Together and although it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book it would have been great if they’d been answered. In The Last Beginning all the questions I had, and even some I didn’t have, were answered. It cleared up everything and the way the events connected, from Clove’s experience in 1745 and the ripple effects it had on both Katherine and Matthew in that time and later Kit and Matthew in 1854, was so intricately written.

…The Characters

“When she was older she was going to work here with the machine—even if it meant spending all her free time between now and then studying. Then one day, when she’d helped to get the machine working, she was going to be the first person to travel through time.”

Clove has lived her whole life believing one thing, that she was Tom and Jen Sutcliffe’s daughter and that Kate and Matt were nothing more than revolutionaries she read about in school, and when she finds out that was a lie it sends her into a tailspin. She doesn’t know what to believe anymore and lashes out at those closest to her. In order to regain some kind control over her life she tries to find out what happened to her birth parents but it seems every end she explores is a dead one.

There is a lot that happens to Clove before she travels back to 1745, things which make her feel small and almost like there is no one in the world she can turn to. She needs answers and she doesn’t seem to care about the risks if it means she has a chance to find them. Along the way she becomes a more confident person; confident in Tom and Jen’s love for her and confident in the friendships and support she has and will always have even when she makes mistakes.

“You interfered with everything I did, constantly! You never stop interfering!”
Ella smirked. “Yeah, but I don’t count. I’m special.”
“Why? Why are you special?”
“I’m the love of your life.”

Ella is an enigmatic character. She appears in the sidelines towards the beginning of the story but when she steps forwards and makes herself known she makes every effort to help Clove. A lot of the time however she tends to force her way ahead without taking into account Clove’s thoughts or opinions. Ella thinks she knows best but that doesn’t work for Clove who is used to being more independent and making her own way.

We are told, a few times, that Ella is the love of Clove’s life but there wasn’t enough development of the relationship between them to make it feel real. With Katherine and Matthew in the first book we saw their love story unfold over four different time lines, with the knowledge that there was a lot more out there dotted throughout the important moments of history. With Ella and Clove however there wasn’t the same detail given to their love story.

“Is that why you gave up looking for them?” she asked Tom. “Because you thought they were dead? Did you even try at all?”
Tom suddenly looked very tired. “Of course I tried. I told you. For years and years it was all I thought about.”

There was a big focus on Clove and her relationship with her parents, both Tom and Jen who have raised her and loved her since she was a baby and Matt and Kate who are her birth parents. I loved how Clove was written after she discovered she was adopted; the confusion she felt and the way she reached out for anything familiar felt very real and a little heartbreaking as well.

…The Setting

“For a second Clove considered running the time machine anyway, and hoping that somehow their bare-bones program would work. But she knew she couldn’t risk it, not even to save millions of lives. If it didn’t work – which it wouldn’t – then the wormhole would grow out of control and turn into a black hole. It would destroy the whole planet.”

In The Last Beginning we revisit a lot of the settings we did in the first book; mainly Carlisle in 1745 where Clove travels to find Katherine and Matthew, and 2039 as she delves more into the lives her birth parents led before their disappearance. The Last Beginning gave us lot more insight into the way the actions Katherine and Matthew, and even Clove, took in 1745 affected the lives of Kit and Matthew in the Crimean War of 1854. Clove plays a large role in her parents past, and not just because of her use of time travel. I really love the way time travel was written in this book; through it we didn’t just get to see the past but glimpses of the future as well. There were aspects of the explanation I still don’t understand, and I am aware that a lot of what happened in this book was the very definition of a paradox but thinking on it too long honestly made my head hurt a little.

I enjoyed The Next Together but reading The Last Beginning made it even better. There was a lot that was answered which gave me more insight into the first book and made me appreciate the amount of work that went into connecting the two stories. Even if The Next Together wasn’t a favourite of yours I’d recommend The Last Beginning just to get some of the answers you sorely need.

What did you think of The Last Beginning? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

Also to celebrate reaching my one year blogiversary I am hosting a giveaway and Q&A. The chance to enter and ask me any questions ends in exactly one week, on the 1st of December at midnight GMT. For more information you can check out my original post here.

13 thoughts on “The Last Beginning

  1. Now that I know you liked the sequel, I can’t wait to read the first book. I still find it funny that when I saw your review, I HAD to go on and buy this book because it wasn’t available to the US. Then it sits on the shelf bc of library books. I have slowly whittled down my pile, but the cool thing is I went to the library and returned all the books that had been checked out multiple times…(some I read), but the librarian checked them in right away bc they were overdue, and then she reshelved them right away! And there were no holds on them and the library was super-slow, so I rechecked out ACOMAF, Glass Sword, The Dark Days Club, and Swarm, and I’m so glad I did because I was really upset that I didn’t have time to read them!
    Now I get to start the clock over on the more important books (to me). Yay!! 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sequel adds so much to the first book so I’d recommend reading them both together, but yeah it’s a good duology overall.
      That is really strange but at least you have it now! And as you own it you have the time to get around to it as well, there’s no deadline like with your library books. 🙂
      Wow that is amazing, so your hard choice about which books to take back didn’t even end up being a choice because you got them all again anyways! 😀 And hopefully this time around you’ll get to them before they need to go back! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes, this time I’m reading them all! I graduate Sat, then finals next week…I’ll have to start actively job hunting, but until then, it’s going to be a book bonanza!
        And I need to start reading my owned books, you know? I do have some ARCs that need reading now as some are due to be published soon, but not a ton. I just can’t resist when a good book is sitting on the shelf at the library, and it’s one I haven’t read…yes, there are so many new books that I could probably never check out an old one again and I would be fine, but there are so many that I didn’t get to read bc I wasn’t reading for so long! Jas told me she stopped going to the library bc she gets all the ARCs and stuff, but I think there are some good titles that I missed out on! And I’m going to read them before they disappear into history, lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ohh good luck with your graduation on Saturday, that sounds amazing, and good luck with your future job hunting as well. But until then have fun reading I guess. 😀
        I have some ARCs I need to get around to this month but I have time to read other books as well! I can’t resist good books either, it’s why I have so many of them waiting on my bookshelves for me to get around to them.
        I think it’s always good to go to libraries/bookstores and read the books that have already been released, like you said there are some amazing ones out there just waiting to be discovered! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Graduation went off without a hitch, despite thinking the event was at 2pm the night before and finding out it was actually at 10am…then thinking it was in Allendale when it was in Grand Rapids…then there was Ticketgate, where I was told only printed tickets but my family got in ok with the electronic versions.
        It was a crazy mess until the actual graduation. Then it was two hours of talking and one minute of walking! But my aunt gave me $100 and my dad bought me those flowers I posted on Instagram. It was a fun day, going to brunch afterward and eating blueberry French toast brioche! Mmmm!
        Now I’m coming down from the fun of it all, and I’m dealing with “finals fiascos.” It’s snowing like a blizzard up in here and driving tomorrow morning for my first final at 10am is gonna suck so bad! I kinda wish they’d close the school! 🙄🙏🙄🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sounds like quite an adventure, but I guess you did it and you can say you officially graduated and it makes for an interesting story as well! I guess it works out that you made it as well.It’s always a fun story if you make it on time but if you don’t it becomes so much bigger you know?
        Congrats on graduating as well! And it sounds like you got some lovely gifts from your family.That must have been nice.
        Ohh blizzards are never fun, and they’re even less fun when you have things you need to do while it’s snowing. Still I hope it all works out for you Stephanie! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks Beth! It was a crazy weekend, but it did end up nice.
        Now the tough part: finals. Once I am done, I am so gonna celebrate. Maybe do a giveaway, I don’t know! I want to celebrate with everyone when I am officially done. Lol.
        Thanks for the kind words as always. 😊
        Now to write an eight page paper about language and power. Ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Sometimes crazy weekends are the best ones aren’t they?
        Ohh that’d be a great way to celebrate, with a giveaway, and I’d definitely enter as well so I’d be looking forwards to seeing what the price would be.
        Wow, eight pages is a lot but hopefully it’ll be no problem for you! 😀


  2. Great review! I’m glad the second book answered all the questions you had, I hate being left hanging to threads that never get an end. Now that I know that, I feel more confident about starting the first book. Also the adoption situation that seems to be handled in a great way makes me curious. Too bad Clove and Ella’s story was not as developed as her parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Donna, yeah in terms of answering questions the second book literally had it all, it just would have improved my opinion of the series if maybe the first book had answered some questions as well you know? Yeah if you’re going to read this series definitely have both books on hand so you can start this one as soon as you finish the first.
      The adoption story was a great one but Clove and Ella could have done with more development, it would have been a pretty much perfect book if they had! 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Marie, and yeah I thought The Last Beginning just gave me so much closure compared to the first book. I think if you were frustrated by the end of The Next Together definitely pick up this one because it has all the answers you will ever need to know! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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