BESTSELLING author Susan Lewis, famous for a string of romantic thrillers, has abandoned the sunny, star-studded climes of Los Angeles to take up residence in a country house in Yatton Keynell.

Now Ms Lewis, 47, whose latest book, Wicked Beauty, was published in June, is reacquainting herself with life in England after 11 years living in the United States with George Clooney as a neighbour.

But rural Yatton Keynell does have its attractions for Ms Lewis, and she thinks she will be making north Wiltshire her home for some time to come.

She said: "I love Wiltshire because it is so beautiful. It's close to my family, and close to London," she said.

"I felt the need to reconnect with being English. I'd been gone from the country for 11 years and it's amazing how much you lose touch even reading newspapers. I didn't know how people in England were living any more, and the English are my people and I write about English characters."

Susan Lewis has published a series of popular novels, each selling a massive hundred thousand copies all around the world.

She describes her novels as thrillers for women with lots of action, politics, intrigue, murder and romance.

Her titles include Taking Chances, Cruel Venus, Vengeance and Obsession. She has fans, male and female, from as far afield as Canada and South America.

Ms Lewis's successful writing career enabled her to buy a glamorous home in Los Angeles, where she hob-nobbed with such celebrities as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Film star Nicholas Cage attended a party at her home, close to Mulholland Drive.

"I loved it, I absolutely loved it," she said. "I was fundamentally very happy in LA. It really is easy living. The climate is fantastic and you can't escape the glitz and glamour of it, with parties and screenings and functions. It's inevitable you're going to mix with the stars. Any restaurant you go into, you're sure to see somebody."

Ms Lewis met George Clooney several times and attended screenings alongside stars like Nicole Kidman and Richard Gere.

Before leaving England she worked for Thames television for 11 years, during which time she began writing novels, starting with A Class Apart, which was published by Harper Collins in 1988. She went on to write Dance While You Can and Stolen Beginnings.

She moved to the south of France for four years, inspired by the idea of living in a villa with a swimming pool. However, this was not a happy time and she decided to move to the USA.

Ms Lewis works from her Yatton Keynell home from about 10am to 6pm every day.

With the exception of Darkest Longings, set in the 1930s, which is Ms Lewis's own favourite, the novels have contemporary settings and very topical concerns such as forced prostitution and international arms dealing.

She has to dedicate time to research, using the Internet as well as the experiences of friends in the world of undercover journalism.

Her new novel, Silent Beauty, is about two investigative reporters who try to expose Government sales of arms to illegal bodies, while solving the murder of a prominent British politician.

Critics have described her books as mystery and romance par excellence, exciting and erotic, and the essential sexy beach scorcher.

Ms Lewis is coming to terms with life in Britain in 2003 and she notes the all-pervasive American influence.

"Service has certainly sharpened up, which is a good thing, and there is a much higher level of sophistication in the countryside you can get so much from Sainsbury's now," she said.

"But I am dismayed by television. When I left we had the best TV in the world. Now that certainly is no longer the case."