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The Art of Inheriting Secrets

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When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime. One glance at the breathtaking When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime. One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets. Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.


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When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime. One glance at the breathtaking When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime. One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets. Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

30 review for The Art of Inheriting Secrets

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brenda James

    Too many loose ends The premise of the story was great. However, I wish the author has spent more effort weaving the story together than she did describing every nuance of food Olivia came in contact with. Who was Olivia's father? Why didn't he help her mother? What was the big deal with Samir's first book? What insight did it offer about Samir? How might it have deepened her relationship with him? What was in the other envelope Alexander gave her? What role did Rebecca play in siphoning money ou Too many loose ends The premise of the story was great. However, I wish the author has spent more effort weaving the story together than she did describing every nuance of food Olivia came in contact with. Who was Olivia's father? Why didn't he help her mother? What was the big deal with Samir's first book? What insight did it offer about Samir? How might it have deepened her relationship with him? What was in the other envelope Alexander gave her? What role did Rebecca play in siphoning money out of the estate? There was talk of her mother's suffering, but little detail on the roll the uncle played other than he wasn't nice. What happened in regards to the paintings that were all the same size? Olivia obsessing over the age difference with Samir was annoying and detracted from the story? What about the Restoration Diva and Olivia 's career in San Francisco? There was just too much left undone with this story. The author was great at descriptions, but terrible at unfolding a mystery and developing relationships.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    2.5 Strong premise and opening, and then the author proceeds to tell us a whole lot rather than show us. And tell us and tell us. All I keep thinking is— Kate Morton light. I really liked all of her characters, the storyline and setting but it just retains a touch too much soap opera-ish elements that sent this reader’s eyes rolling on a regular basis...just how much bad luck can one heroine inherit? The real good stuff (what could have been a strong second storyline set in the past) is so glosse 2.5 Strong premise and opening, and then the author proceeds to tell us a whole lot rather than show us. And tell us and tell us. All I keep thinking is— Kate Morton light. I really liked all of her characters, the storyline and setting but it just retains a touch too much soap opera-ish elements that sent this reader’s eyes rolling on a regular basis...just how much bad luck can one heroine inherit? The real good stuff (what could have been a strong second storyline set in the past) is so glossed over in the last few chapters, I felt slightly ripped off. But if you want an easy, breezy Lifetime channel read, this one’s for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quote: Life had washed me here on this strange errand. Maybe the best thing to do was to just let it show me what it had in mind. My Review: This was my first exposure to the clever and stealthy genius of Barbara O’Neal, and I was quickly hooked by her thoughtful and surreptitious storytelling. Her first-person narrative was evocative, atmospheric, and compelling while her divinely descriptive and nuanced writing style was a feast for all senses, however, be warned, her intricately detaile Favorite Quote: Life had washed me here on this strange errand. Maybe the best thing to do was to just let it show me what it had in mind. My Review: This was my first exposure to the clever and stealthy genius of Barbara O’Neal, and I was quickly hooked by her thoughtful and surreptitious storytelling. Her first-person narrative was evocative, atmospheric, and compelling while her divinely descriptive and nuanced writing style was a feast for all senses, however, be warned, her intricately detailed foodie scenes were a bane for my diet. Her word voodoo was strong, I swear I could taste the spices and smell the garlic. The premise was unique and engaging with several well-woven and intriguing storylines just oozing with mystery and confounding clues that kept me tethered to my Kindle late into the night.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 * Unpopular Opinion Alert * When I first started reading it, I very much liked The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal, but in the end some things just didn't jive with me and I didn't love it as much as I had hoped to. The Art of Inheriting Secrets is about 38 year old Olivia Shaw who has been the editor of a highly respected magazine when she gets into a car accident and has to take time off work. As if that hasn't hit her life hard enough, her mother then passes away and Oli ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 * Unpopular Opinion Alert * When I first started reading it, I very much liked The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal, but in the end some things just didn't jive with me and I didn't love it as much as I had hoped to. The Art of Inheriting Secrets is about 38 year old Olivia Shaw who has been the editor of a highly respected magazine when she gets into a car accident and has to take time off work. As if that hasn't hit her life hard enough, her mother then passes away and Olivia finds out she is the heir to an estate in England named Rosemere. A very old and very crumbly estate. She travels to England from San Francisco and she starts falling in love with the small village and the people in it. However, things aren't always what they seem, and she has a lot of secrets from her mom's past that she must unravel as well if she ever hopes to find peace and figure out what to do with Rosemere. As I got further into this book I realized that this is not just a women's fiction book with mystery, it is also a romance novel. So there are a couple sex scenes that are on the graphic side (for me anyway) that were a little TMI for my liking and I ended up skipping over them completely. I also think this book could have been much shorter; and the secrets aren't all reveled until pretty much the last 5% or so of the book. I wouldn't mind this normally, but I thought there was some filler in between I could have done without and things could have moved a bit faster. Also, the explanations were very confusing to me and unfortunately I didn't fully understand exactly what had happened. One other thing that really frustrated me was that one revelation is entirely glossed over by Olivia when she finds out something big. She just continues speaking to someone about something else entirely without even touching on how much surprise she should have been feeling. I'm sure this won't bug everyone, but it really bothers me when things that should be touched on just get completely passed over. On the bright side, O'Neal's writing is truly beautiful and I did love how she described everything. I was also really loving the crumbly mansion and family secrets aspect, along with Olivia's friendships with the villagers (mostly 3 in particular). Another thing to note is the descriptions of food in this book are MOUTH WATERING. Like they are completely legit, and reading this book made me hungry. Final Thought: I feel like this review is fairly negative, but I don't mean it to be. I just couldn't get past the romance aspect slowing the mystery down for me and the very confusing conclusion. I definitely recommend checking this book out if you are a fan of romance with a mystery aspect. It just caught me so off guard that I couldn't get past it. There isn't even that much romance, at least as far as sex scenes go, so check this out if it sounds appealing!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This started out really strong for me. An American girl's mother dies and she inherits an old crumbling English country manor. She has no idea of her mother's gentry background or the circumstances as to why her mother left England so long ago. I loved the setting of this book. I loved the idea of it. So many family secrets to uncover. However, I just felt that the build-up was slow and then the secrets were all revealed too fast and were too neatly tied up. I think this was more of a 2 1/2 stars This started out really strong for me. An American girl's mother dies and she inherits an old crumbling English country manor. She has no idea of her mother's gentry background or the circumstances as to why her mother left England so long ago. I loved the setting of this book. I loved the idea of it. So many family secrets to uncover. However, I just felt that the build-up was slow and then the secrets were all revealed too fast and were too neatly tied up. I think this was more of a 2 1/2 stars for me. It just did not entice me as I thought it would. Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader Copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I don't ever want to read the words "damp penis" ever again. I don't ever want to read the words "damp penis" ever again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Okay.... I do wish the author had had this book 'Brit-read' before publishing. There are several 'eek' moments in the story that really should have been picked up by an editor. ie: she hands over a'clutch of pound notes' - England doesn't have pound notes now - haven't had since 1988 'She's a teacher, third grade.' School 'years' in England are numbered after the first year: Reception, Year I Year 2, etc. 'third grade' means nothing here The food references were way too overdone and I ended up skimm Okay.... I do wish the author had had this book 'Brit-read' before publishing. There are several 'eek' moments in the story that really should have been picked up by an editor. ie: she hands over a'clutch of pound notes' - England doesn't have pound notes now - haven't had since 1988 'She's a teacher, third grade.' School 'years' in England are numbered after the first year: Reception, Year I Year 2, etc. 'third grade' means nothing here The food references were way too overdone and I ended up skimming them. Yes, I know Olivia is a food editor but she seemed to be having an orgasm every time she ate something - and EVERY meal was 'perfect' ;) Olivia seemed to be disliked by many people and there was no explanation for this - just another 'unexplained' mystery which served to irk me more as I read on. There was an ??? wtf !!! moment at the end when two fairly important characters were mentioned, almost in an offhand way, as being involved in a crime and yet NO ONE reacted. It was as if their names were irrelevant or simply not spoken and it didnt make any sense at all. Neither did the missing caretakers who were apparently on holiday and then were simply forgotten about until too late. It gave the feel of a story that had been rushed and not proof-read. Having said that, on the whole I enjoyed the overall plot and the characters were likeable. I do think it needs serious editing though, (the timeline seemed particularly odd somehow) and a MUCH better cover. The current one makes it look as if the story is set in the 50's ;) 2.5 stars. I liked it, but not that much. sadly, the flaws outweighed the characters.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Barbara O’Neal’s stories are always as beautiful as they are poetic. She possesses a writing style I admire and is an expert at weaving tales I can’t put down and crafting characters that, depending what they do, reward and frustrate. They are the best and stick around long after the final page. THE ART OF INHERITING SECRETS is a gem. Fans, new and old, will fall in love with the book’s layers and textures, and Olivia’s journey into a world she never fathomed belonged to her.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

    This story spoke to me like none other this year. I had the feeling of being a friend to live through all that was happening in the life of Olivia, everything so clearly described that I was actually there. Barbara O'Neal incorperated, wonderfully, a lot of passions of mine making reading an experience--a joy. I enthusiastically recommand The Art of Inheriting Secrets. 5+ stars This story spoke to me like none other this year. I had the feeling of being a friend to live through all that was happening in the life of Olivia, everything so clearly described that I was actually there. Barbara O'Neal incorperated, wonderfully, a lot of passions of mine making reading an experience--a joy. I enthusiastically recommand The Art of Inheriting Secrets. 5+ stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Sneaky Book Hangover. This is one of those books that has a way of sneaking up on you, in all the good ways. In the beginning, we're thrust into the world of a food editor who has just arrived in England after only recently finding out that she has inherited a full English estate and title. Throughout the book, we discover things as she does, and through the first half of the book what we discover is mostly that she is falling in love with both the countryside and its resident thatcher. The "sec Sneaky Book Hangover. This is one of those books that has a way of sneaking up on you, in all the good ways. In the beginning, we're thrust into the world of a food editor who has just arrived in England after only recently finding out that she has inherited a full English estate and title. Throughout the book, we discover things as she does, and through the first half of the book what we discover is mostly that she is falling in love with both the countryside and its resident thatcher. The "secrets" come mostly in the back half of the book, and they are tragic yet beautiful. While the timing of my own reading of this could have been better (reading a book about falling in love with the English countryside over July 4...), this really will make a great read anytime, but particularly (for my own tastes) as a late summer read - which means its release in mid July is timed nearly to perfection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I have never read anything by this author before and I have to say that I was amazed by both the story and the author's writing skill and style. Obviously, I will hunt up her books to read more. The story contained in this book is magical. It caught me in a tough time - my 12 year old dog died while I was reading this. It was the one thing that drew me away from my grief the first couple days. First, the characters; they were so perfectly described that I could see each and every one. Second, th I have never read anything by this author before and I have to say that I was amazed by both the story and the author's writing skill and style. Obviously, I will hunt up her books to read more. The story contained in this book is magical. It caught me in a tough time - my 12 year old dog died while I was reading this. It was the one thing that drew me away from my grief the first couple days. First, the characters; they were so perfectly described that I could see each and every one. Second, the story line blew me away. I'm not going into it. I don't believe in spoilers, but it fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me to read and provide an honest review of this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Foxy Vixen

    What a great book! If you like mystery, murder, treasure hunts and romance than this is the book for you. This takes place on a vey 0ld 600 hundred years old Manor in England. The mystery is created by the main character’s deceased mother. You learn more about the Indian and English relationships of past and present. If you want a book that will keep the pages turning quickly with much passion thrown in, than this book is for you. It probably should be considered for the ladies... but certainly f What a great book! If you like mystery, murder, treasure hunts and romance than this is the book for you. This takes place on a vey 0ld 600 hundred years old Manor in England. The mystery is created by the main character’s deceased mother. You learn more about the Indian and English relationships of past and present. If you want a book that will keep the pages turning quickly with much passion thrown in, than this book is for you. It probably should be considered for the ladies... but certainly for all ages. I can’t wait to read Barbara O’Neal’s next book on my list The Lost Girls of Devon! This is my first read of 2021, and if all of my reads are like this, than I certainly am going to have a great year of reading!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sharlene

    I enjoyed this book greatly. The mystery kept me turning page after page quickly. Memorable characters and you will feel transported to the English countryside. Will recommend to friends and I give this book 5 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Hooper

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the beginning, I loved this book. It reminded me of a Kate Morton book. The story had so much promise, but about halfway in the wheels began to fall off. The last 10% they fell off with a huge clanking. The book began to unravel for me with the sex scene between Olivia and Samir. I’m not a prude but it was just jarring. Totally out of character with the book to that point. From that point there were so many loose ends. We were well into the book before Olivia revealed her mother liked to stag In the beginning, I loved this book. It reminded me of a Kate Morton book. The story had so much promise, but about halfway in the wheels began to fall off. The last 10% they fell off with a huge clanking. The book began to unravel for me with the sex scene between Olivia and Samir. I’m not a prude but it was just jarring. Totally out of character with the book to that point. From that point there were so many loose ends. We were well into the book before Olivia revealed her mother liked to stage “treasure hunts” and that she thought this might be one. I could suspend belief that someone might stage a game that might or might not be solved with millions of dollars of paintings, but the logistics of how her mother did all of this just didn’t hang together. Then let’s talk about the theft of the accounts. When the police man called to report they arrested the culprits he listed Samir’s boss, Tony, and even though Samir is standing right there, Olivia just says thank you, hangs up and says nothing else? It was almost as if two different people wrote the book. One started and the other did a rush finish job.

  15. 5 out of 5

    SoulSurvivor

    First half four stars , second half 2 stars . Not a complete waste of time , but I don't have a high opinion of the morals and language as the book progressed . First half four stars , second half 2 stars . Not a complete waste of time , but I don't have a high opinion of the morals and language as the book progressed .

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kiki Z

    DNF'd at 46%. I've been chipping away at this book for ten days, reading a little each day, and that's pretty surprising. O'Neal's book have always been pretty quick reads for me--I typically finish them in less than two days if I'm not as interested or in the case of When We Believed in Mermaids in three hours, and I didn't even love that book. The issue here is very little happens but it takes up lots of pages. A majority of what I've read so far is Olivia going through the options to save Ros DNF'd at 46%. I've been chipping away at this book for ten days, reading a little each day, and that's pretty surprising. O'Neal's book have always been pretty quick reads for me--I typically finish them in less than two days if I'm not as interested or in the case of When We Believed in Mermaids in three hours, and I didn't even love that book. The issue here is very little happens but it takes up lots of pages. A majority of what I've read so far is Olivia going through the options to save Rosemere, but frankly, we don't need to know all of this. It adds nothing to the plot. We could have had the idea of applying for a home renovation show for historical English estates introduced much earlier to save time, as it's not like any other viable options are suggested, beyond selling for flats. (Also, real question here: can you lose a hereditary aristocratic title if you sell the estate? And that's presuming entail isn't a thing for the estate and that the historic registry people allow for a sale that would demolish the home--which I imagine they don't, since it's stated Olivia will have to restore it to certain specifications and only with approval.) Also an issue: her fiancee. Seriously, what was the point of having them break up IN the book? The relationship should have been over before the book started. Olivia's doubts about him are strong, and the fact that she very early on decides not to let him do anything with her mother's estate shows she doesn't trust him. (And she shouldn't. He's a dick.) Having them break up in the book makes her romantic relationship with Samir suspect, and I really don't understand why authors are so insistent about having people jump into new relationship just days after a long term relationship ends. It's sketchy. Stop it. And my final issue: we have no answers so far. Not normally a major deal but kind of indicative of how slow we're moving. People hate Olivia for no reason. She doesn't know who her father is. She doesn't know if her uncle is alive or not. But nothing has been set up to reveal answers--it's literally all about the estate. And food, because she's a food writer. That didn't bother me so much but it does take up even more time and space in a book that doesn't utilize its time and space very well. To be fair, you can say that about several of O'Neal's novels.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    The Art of Inheriting Secrets captivated me from the very first page and kept me turning pages far into the night! Imagine losing your mother, and while in the depths of grief you discover a past that she kept hidden your whole life...a past that includes a crumbling estate in England and the title and challenges that come with it. The mysteries that the house is hiding, the secrets that it holds, kept me in suspense until the end. But what captivated me even more than the suspense, were the ris The Art of Inheriting Secrets captivated me from the very first page and kept me turning pages far into the night! Imagine losing your mother, and while in the depths of grief you discover a past that she kept hidden your whole life...a past that includes a crumbling estate in England and the title and challenges that come with it. The mysteries that the house is hiding, the secrets that it holds, kept me in suspense until the end. But what captivated me even more than the suspense, were the rising and ebbing emotions of Olivia, the main character of this story. I was pulled in by her journey of discovery of who she was, where she came from, and where she was going. Her relationship with Samir was so organic, the chemistry between them crackled on the pages, their attraction and their feelings romantic and genuine. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I look forward to reading more!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rekha Chithrampatt

    The title was what intrigued me to purchase this book. It started off with a promise of mystery, however I soon found myself focused on the writing structure and how it seemed like the author was trying too hard. Like a child searching for synonyms to use in a school assignment, I found that there was no flow to sentences and this created a break in the story that, to me, was difficult to overlook. There was also not much mystery, the "hunt" for answers seemed halfhearted, the revelations underw The title was what intrigued me to purchase this book. It started off with a promise of mystery, however I soon found myself focused on the writing structure and how it seemed like the author was trying too hard. Like a child searching for synonyms to use in a school assignment, I found that there was no flow to sentences and this created a break in the story that, to me, was difficult to overlook. There was also not much mystery, the "hunt" for answers seemed halfhearted, the revelations underwhelming and until the last few pages, nothing made much sense. For example, there is a bit about the paintings her mother left for her to find, all the same size, but painted by various artists, with each painting corresponding to one of the colours of a rainbow. The way this was talked about, I thought surely there must be a connection, it has to be a vital clue, but no, they were just an unnecessary distraction. There wasn't enough resolution given to the pressing plot background - while some things were wrapped up so an end to the story could occur, others were left gaping, hardly touched upon. The protagonist's love interest's hair gets more mention than her mother, who is the thread that weaves the story together. Even the love between the mother and daughter seemed to be bland. What, no anger about being kept in the dark about this whole entire life she'd had, no anguish over who her father was, no feeling of being without an anchor as nothing she knew seemed to have been real? Too wishy washy to me. Overall, I did not enjoy this book, and unless utterly desperate, will not be attempting any more by the author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kay (aka) Miss Bates

    I both dreaded and looked forward to Barbara O’Neal’s The Art Of Inheriting Secrets, dreaded because I dislike women’s fiction and looked forward to because the blurb offered gothic potential. In the end, the novel’s gothic and romance portions outweighed the women’s fic. I was one contentedly satiated reader at pages’ end. Be warned, there’s also first-person narration, but the narrator is engaging, funny, self-deprecating, intelligent, and as the hero notes, looks like Kate Winslet (I adore Wi I both dreaded and looked forward to Barbara O’Neal’s The Art Of Inheriting Secrets, dreaded because I dislike women’s fiction and looked forward to because the blurb offered gothic potential. In the end, the novel’s gothic and romance portions outweighed the women’s fic. I was one contentedly satiated reader at pages’ end. Be warned, there’s also first-person narration, but the narrator is engaging, funny, self-deprecating, intelligent, and as the hero notes, looks like Kate Winslet (I adore Winslet, ever since I saw her in Heavenly Creatures). Our narrator-heroine is San Francisco-based food writer and editor of the fictional magazine Egg and Hen, Olivia Shaw. When the novel opens, Olivia’s life has taken some spectacularly difficult, life-altering turns. She arrives in Hertfordshire’s Saint Ives Cross having recently learned she has inherited a crumbling estate, Rosemere Priory. She is mourning her mother, only six weeks gone, but she’s also learned that her mother kept her identity as Lady Caroline Shaw secret. The drippily unhappy heroine, the rain, the English countryside, the quaint village she arrives in, down to the country-accented friendly cab-driver, who drops her off at the local inn and pub, absorbed me from page one. I loved the premise of the family secrets, I loved the crumbling priory, I loved Olivia’s voice, and the notion of a heroine navigating a new place, culture, community, and her own new-found, strange identity. To give you a sense of Olivia, I will quote, verbatim, one of my reading notes, “Except for the annoying, rapacious fiancé, Olivia would make a great feral spinster.” What I loved about O’Neal’s handling of Olivia’s characterization is a basis not in character growth, as in a young adult novel, but Olivia’s realizations and reconsiderations. Her mother’s loss and the revelation of her inheritance (with title!) precipitate life-changes, changes requiring bravery. I loved Olivia’s courage: she wasn’t faced with challenges so dear to WF (no Big C stories please). Olivia took time to think, organize (I loved her task-oriented whiteboard, including good-times with the love interest … more of his wonderfulness later), to consider, seek the advice of trustworthy people, and take action, not, as many romance characters do, resolve change. Olivia enacted it, step by step and with considered decision-making. Olivia wasn’t suspicious, or paranoid, but a good reader of character. When, for example, she realized her relationship with dick-fiancé was a long-time-over, she broke off with him honestly and with class. Here’s an example of Olivia’s thought-process, in a phone conversation with dick-fiancé: He was using the voice I’d come to know too well – the patient voice. There were times lately I didn’t even like this man, much less want to marry him. Many times. Sometimes I thought I’d never really loved him much at all. Her honesty with herself was a joy to read, and her decisiveness. Grant turned out worse than she thought, but Olivia didn’t wallow in self-recrimination. Olivia’s journey is of a mature, thoughtful woman, who also possesses humility and humour. Another thing I loved about Olivia was how she navigated her relationships, despite feeling unmoored in a new place, people, and identity. She nurtured the worthy ones and divested herself of the unhealthy. One of my favourites, other than with the hero, was Olivia’s relationship with food and her body. O’Neal’s Olivia loves to cook. She knows how to savour and break down flavours; she knows how to celebrate food. Olivia is aware of her early-Kate-Winslet body. When she takes the hero as her lover, there are fleeting moments of self-consciousness about her “squishy bits” and her six-year seniority; overall, however, Olivia celebrates the pleasures of touch as she does of taste. The love scenes, by most romance standards, are circumspect, but they are sensuous, sexy, and healthy for both partners. Really, some of the best I’ve read. As are the food descriptions … And now we come to the people who surround Olivia and how well-drawn and compelling they are. They come from the far past in the form of her ancestry and what she learns about the secrets her mother kept: her grandmother Violet’s personal tragedy; her mother’s; the ghosts that haunt Rosemere Priory. They come from her recent past: her loving, close relationship with her marvelous artist-mother; the dick-fiancé, and her work colleagues. And they come from her strange, bittersweet new present: the man who accompanies her on her Rosemere Priory ruins’ walks and explorations, Samir Malakar, who becomes her lover with joy and humility; her friendship with Samir’s family, especially his father, Harshad, who knew her mother when she was Lady Caroline; his talented chef sister, Pavi, local restaurant owner, new friend, and introducer of marvelous flavours; and even Samir’s difficult, complex mother; the local shopkeepers, artisans, and bakers, the bringers of tea and pourers of ale. I can’t say I loved the estate-makeover hostess who aids Olivia, Jocasta Edwards, the “Restoration Diva” very much. I can see, however, how she makes the renovation aspect of the story easier to tell and move, so okay. Maybe it was a tad pat, but it worked. As I write this post, I sip on a cup of chai latte, which I made, despite the summer heat, to honour how much I loved O’Neal’s romance between Olivia and roof-thatcher (as well as something else, but no spoilers) Samir Malakar. I will give you a small sampling of the moment they knew they were linked (it’s lovely, worthy of a Jane Eyre echo): “Something earthy and green and fertile bloomed between us, twining like the vines through the windows of Rosemere Priory.” The sense of something new, fertile and green, like a new shoot, and its connection to the past, the house, is beautiful and memorable. Samir and Olivia’s relationship is simple, loving, and comfortable. It’s not simplistic: they have to navigate the age difference (doesn’t matter, love is love), Samir’s reticence about class and colour (doesn’t matter, love is love), and the old-fashioned, romance hesitation that they’ve both been hurt by their past, failed relationships (doesn’t matter post-growing-pains because they’re so gentle and honest with each other). Here’s a snippet to lure you to read O’Neal’s Art Of Inheriting Secrets: ” … the fact remains that our social classes are vastly different.” “Don’t,” I said, and to emphasize my point, I covered his mouth with my fingers. “Let’s just be us. Let it be.” I took my hand away. “Okay?” He captured my fingers. “We’re tired. Let’s go to sleep, shall we?” “Side by side?” “Yes.” O’Neal has been writing a long time. I’m so glad I have her romances in the TBR, her historical romances and contemporaries and all this new stuff she’s writing. To conclude, my final reader-bait: what does Samir say to Olivia when she wavers on restoring her ancestral home? ” ‘That isn’t who you are. You’re afraid. And you cannot have a life of great meaning if you make decisions out of fear.’ ” I loved that the HEA, as Victor Frankl urges us to do, is to find happiness as a subsidiary of finding meaning. I’m very glad O’Neal couched this truth in a romance between two equal, worthy people. With Miss Austen, we say that Barbara O’Neal’s The Art Of Inheriting Secrets is proof “there is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” Emma. Barbara O’Neal’s The Art Of Inheriting Secrets is published by Lake Union Publishing. It was released on July 17th and may be found at your preferred vendors. I received an e-ARC from Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lady Delacour

    Found myself enjoying this inherited house mystery until it turned perverted. 2 Disappointed Stars. Listened with TTS. NOT CLEAN. Foul Language.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    I just loved this book. I teared up from happiness at the very end - a first for me. This is a little slow but don't be deterred. It's just a little slow. And there's plenty to keep you occupied along the way to the end. It's a mystery but also a kind of an older (late thirties) coming of age story. It's about over coming the grief of losing a loved one. It's about finding love in unexpected circumstances. It's about family history and responsibilities. It's about building friendships. No aspect I just loved this book. I teared up from happiness at the very end - a first for me. This is a little slow but don't be deterred. It's just a little slow. And there's plenty to keep you occupied along the way to the end. It's a mystery but also a kind of an older (late thirties) coming of age story. It's about over coming the grief of losing a loved one. It's about finding love in unexpected circumstances. It's about family history and responsibilities. It's about building friendships. No aspect of the book is overpowering. It all blends together into a fun and beautiful story. It just came together so well. It's set in a country village in England. Olivia is so easy to relate to - she felt like a friend. The people of the village all had their quirks. Some good and some bad. It was fun to navigate through meeting the characters with Olivia. The ghosts of her ancestors were present as well. Not actual ghosts but their presence. The weight of having a history to the land and the house is prevalent. It makes one pause and reflect on all the decisions and actions of people long gone that actually made our lives possible today.

  22. 5 out of 5

    RedRedtheycallmeRed

    I've read several of Barbara O'Neal's books recently, this one is my least favorite. There's a lot thrown at Olivia, on top of losing her mother and a beloved pet, and I think it was just too much drama for one book. The setting was lovely, I loved the restoration parts, and Olivia's relationship with Samir and Pavi. But there seemed to be one drama after another, not all of them believable, and not all of them got resolved at the end. The ending was very rushed, like the author was told she only I've read several of Barbara O'Neal's books recently, this one is my least favorite. There's a lot thrown at Olivia, on top of losing her mother and a beloved pet, and I think it was just too much drama for one book. The setting was lovely, I loved the restoration parts, and Olivia's relationship with Samir and Pavi. But there seemed to be one drama after another, not all of them believable, and not all of them got resolved at the end. The ending was very rushed, like the author was told she only had a few pages to explain it all. So much happened and then there was no time to settle with it all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna Bowling

    I now have a new favorite Barbara O'Neal novel, and dibs on Samir as my book manfriend. More comprehensive review coming soon, but if you like compelling wonen's fiction, with a strong sense of history, a mystery for the ages, and gorgeous descriptions of food, an ages-old estate, and a heroine who finds love, romantic and otherwise, where she least expects it, get this book. I now have a new favorite Barbara O'Neal novel, and dibs on Samir as my book manfriend. More comprehensive review coming soon, but if you like compelling wonen's fiction, with a strong sense of history, a mystery for the ages, and gorgeous descriptions of food, an ages-old estate, and a heroine who finds love, romantic and otherwise, where she least expects it, get this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Sands

    O’Neal’s clever title begins an intriguing journey for readers that unfolds layer by surprising layer. Her respected masterful storytelling blends mystery, art, romance, and mayhem in a quaint English village and breathtaking countryside. Brilliant!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelegg

    Easily my favorite book of the year, this book is full of everything I adore about reading. The pages were filled with a fabulous story, peopled by characters I came to care about so much and set in an England I want to live in. The setting came alive under the authors pen, I can still see Rosemere Priory rising up from the green earth, covered in ivy and overlooking the little town below. The characters were some of my very favorite ever written, Olivia and Samir were gorgeous together and their Easily my favorite book of the year, this book is full of everything I adore about reading. The pages were filled with a fabulous story, peopled by characters I came to care about so much and set in an England I want to live in. The setting came alive under the authors pen, I can still see Rosemere Priory rising up from the green earth, covered in ivy and overlooking the little town below. The characters were some of my very favorite ever written, Olivia and Samir were gorgeous together and their love story was breathtaking to read. The circumstances surrounding Olivia’s inheritance and her journey to understand her mother were such a beautiful part of this story and kept me turning the pages late into the night. I’ve long been a fan of this authors work simply because her stories stay with me, the places described continue to stay in my mind and her characters are always beloved and unforgettable. This is my favorite book to date, the way this book made me feel will long be on my mind, the hallmark of a great read for me. I very highly recommend this book to lovers of fabulously written stories, beautiful settings and characters who you will fall in love with and never forget. I can’t say enough about how much I loved this book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I felt let down by the time I finished this book. It's a beautifully told story that kind of collapses and fizzles at the end, which I felt was rushed and not very satisfying. There's this big buildup to a big secret, but the revelation of the secret itself isn't very well developed and I didn't feel it lived up to the hype. I finished it and felt... unfinished and unfulfilled. I also felt there were loose ends left and story lines that just kind of... trailed off and disappeared. The book is ful I felt let down by the time I finished this book. It's a beautifully told story that kind of collapses and fizzles at the end, which I felt was rushed and not very satisfying. There's this big buildup to a big secret, but the revelation of the secret itself isn't very well developed and I didn't feel it lived up to the hype. I finished it and felt... unfinished and unfulfilled. I also felt there were loose ends left and story lines that just kind of... trailed off and disappeared. The book is full of details that, in the end, don't have any significance to the story. Not a complete waste of time, but it could've been better.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    Barbara O’Neal has written a gorgeous novel focusing on a woman’s emotional awakening under difficult circumstances. This time set in a quaint English village with a crumbling centuries-old estate. 5/5 for a compelling story line, warm characterizations and a setting you’ll want to inhabit forever. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. #TheArtOfInheritingSecrets #NetGalley

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joann 'bartunek' prashek

    I listened to the book and so glad I did. Loved the British accents. Will definitely read or listen to more of the author's books. I listened to the book and so glad I did. Loved the British accents. Will definitely read or listen to more of the author's books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    About halfway through the novel, I thought to myself, "This is a romance novel and I do not like romance novels." Notice I was halfway through the book when I made this discovery. I can also share that I stayed up all night and finished this book around four o'clock in the morning. Apparently I might need to rethink my bias. The Art of Inheriting Secrets may include some romance but it also contains LOTS of food (which is why I originally picked up the novel). (You can check out all the food and a About halfway through the novel, I thought to myself, "This is a romance novel and I do not like romance novels." Notice I was halfway through the book when I made this discovery. I can also share that I stayed up all night and finished this book around four o'clock in the morning. Apparently I might need to rethink my bias. The Art of Inheriting Secrets may include some romance but it also contains LOTS of food (which is why I originally picked up the novel). (You can check out all the food and an inspired recipe soon at Eliot's Eats). I enjoyed O'Neal's knack for characterizations, especially in Olivia's case. Our heroine finds herself in some distressing situations in losing her mother and (partial spoiler alert) breaking off a long time romance yet she does not appear tragic. She finds out she is a countess and has inherited a large estate but this is not fairy tale. The whole Malakar family was just enchanting as well and I would love to be a family friend included in their communal meals or be a diner at Coriander. I also appreciated that O'Neal did not resort to the typical romance formula of the couple connecting with a promising and budding love affair only to break up because of a trivial misunderstanding (and only to be reunited in a passionate denoument ). At one point I was afraid Olivia and Samir would wander down that meandering path; they thankfully did not. There was a bit of predictability in the novel. Like I said, it's a romance so you knew the whole couple-thing would work out. The mystery of the young girl's disappearance was expected and foreshadowed. And, maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I hoped and expected that Grant would meet some sort of comeuppance. Finally, and maybe it was because it was four in the morning, but I couldn't wrap my head around the whole embezzlement plot and who, how, and when everyone got arrested. (Oops, spoiler alert.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    NicholeReadsWithCats

    The description of this one didn't sell me but after reading a different book by O'Neal at the beginning of the year I gave it a go. Much like when I decided to read 'When We Belived in Mermaids' I did not expect to like this let alone love it. The characters could have a little more dimension but are still relatable. Many layers to this story. Some happy, some sad, complex and real. There are a few elements that deserved more explanation which made the ending feel a bit rushed. Some of the sexu The description of this one didn't sell me but after reading a different book by O'Neal at the beginning of the year I gave it a go. Much like when I decided to read 'When We Belived in Mermaids' I did not expect to like this let alone love it. The characters could have a little more dimension but are still relatable. Many layers to this story. Some happy, some sad, complex and real. There are a few elements that deserved more explanation which made the ending feel a bit rushed. Some of the sexual elements were a little too much for me and felt out of place. I also found it odd the way everyone, including Olivia, obsessed over her 5 year age difference with Samir. Really? Overall a charming story. There are times a book like this is just what you need.

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