Cover Image: The Art of Inheriting Secrets

The Art of Inheriting Secrets

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Member Reviews

Barbara O’Neal has written a gorgeous novel focusing on a woman’s emotional awakening under difficult circumstances. 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
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Caroline kept a whopper of a secret from her daughter Olivia, a food writer based in San Francisco.  Olivia had no idea- none- of her mother's background, especially that she had a title (which Olivia has inherited) and Rosemere Priory.  Wow.  Inheriting the Priory is not the simple easy thing she thought it might be.  Beyond the secrets, there's the prosaic issue of getting the place into livable shape.  O'Neal has written a lovely story of a woman looking into her mother's past and figuring out her own future.  What to do about her fiancé Grant?  What about Samir and the others in the village?  What about a nascent romance.  There are delightful descriptions of food (especially Indian food).  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This is old fashioned story telling.
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The Art of Inheriting Secrets is an exciting book that I devoured in one day. The author‘s writing style is captivating drawing the reader into secrets, mysteries and unbelievable plot twists.  A woman who never knew her family history inherits an estate, a title and a life she never expected. This book is a fast paced story that kept me intrigued until the end. I was somewhat disappointed that all the storylines didn’t quite seem to be complete but maybe there is hope for a series. I look forward to reading more books by this author and have already researched and purchased a few more of her books. Thanks to the author, publisher and netgalley for making this book available for me to read, enjoy and review.
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I love this book and found it hard to put down. After Olivia's mother dies she inherits an estate with secrets as well as a title in England, both of which she knew nothing about. This book draws you in from the first page and keeps you  wanting to read more. I highly recommend this book. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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The protagonist of Barbara Neals' upcoming The Art of Inheriting Secrets is a daughter raised by a single mother in San Francisco. When her mother dies, Olivia discovers that she is heir to a vast, ruined estate in England. Going to investigate, Olivia discovers hidden secrets and present-day potential in a derelict building, beautiful paintings, and new relationships. 
Possibly this bare summary sounds like something you've read before - or walked right on by? 
This story is not that.
I've left the summary deliberately sparse so there are no spoilers. That's how I came to the story and I would want other readers to share that experience, in landing in a different country with a protagonist determined to close up estate business and move on in her own high-powered, dreamed-of career leading a food publication. 
Neal is an exceptionally experienced and adept writer, technically sharp and deft with description, setting, pace, and structure. I savored learning how to weave a story from a master storyteller by reading her work. Having taken a terrific workshop with her several years ago, I enjoyed seeing her light-handed and intelligent craft in action.
Among her many tools is specificity. For example, the main character named her dog "Arrow" after the dog in 1971's Harry Nilsson's album and animation The Point. For those who don't know this incredible film and album, The Point is the story of a round-headed boy named Oblio living in the land of Point. Everything and everyone has one - and is required to have one. Revealed as being "pointless," Oblio is banished to the Pointless Forest where his adventures unfold with loyal Arrow at his side. Again, I won't spoil it for you - see this movie. The songs are wise, light, piercingly true. The boy and his dog are charming, simple, wise as well. The animation is beautiful.
Neal hit a resonant chord with me by dropping this small, unremarkable and highly specific fact about a character's background. Simply citing this counter-culture story lays open a character's background, her heart and joy, deepening her presence and my reader relationship with her. 
I bet Neal loved this movie, too. Us writers do things like that, weave in the jokes, references, pleasures that we know and love. 
Animals play an important role in the story - but it's not all light and sparkle, happy little songs. While we are beguiled by the roses and the garden, Neal explores class issues, urban sprawl, book publishing, illness and death, finances, family obligations, writers, art, food, and discrimination. Yeah, that's a lot of ground to cover. 
However, while she examines the issues, they are woven into the story, never upstaging or blaring or getting in the way of a story about a woman finding her way after a terrible accident and the loss of her mother who was a guiding light and powerful loving presence. These themes and recurring images support, enrich, add critical dimension and heft to a solid story. 
Neal did not pull any punches. She did not ratchet up tension in predictable, yawn-worthy ways, but there was plenty of it.
What she did do was ground her characters and events in a place, a time. They are so well-grounded, so centered in themselves, that it was a joy to spend time with them, the real-feeling people and the places I would dearly love to visit.
So, for certain readers, I recommend this book without reservation. It is fast, beautiful, delightful, truthful, all manner of wonderous. If you enjoy women's fiction or romance, this is a writer you need to read. For those other readers who don't typically read stories like this, you might want to give it a chance. Failing that, go find The Point and watch it. That I can recommend to anyone, everyone, with no qualms.
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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.
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Barbara O’Neal has such a way with words. “The Art of Inheriting Secrets” is so much more than the typical “woman inherits house, visits town, restores house, falls in love and moves into house” novel. Every scene felt authentic and real, making it very easy to visualize. There is a thoroughness in every meal mentioned, and it left me wanting to taste each one. 

Each chapter left me wanting to know what happens next, and while there was closure when the book came to an end, I’d love to be able to read a follow-up novel.
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Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the eARC.
Despite this being a romance novel, which I generally don't read, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. 
Olivia Shaw leaves her home and job in San Francisco, for what she believes will be a couple of weeks, after inheriting Rosemary Priory and it's sprawling property in a village in England and a title (Lady Olivia) that starts off as an embarrassment.  She is reeling from the death of her beloved mother and cannot understand why on earth her mother never told her about her background.
After much agonizing, she decides to end her longtime, not very happy relationship with her fiance in SF and start working on the restoration of Rosemary Priory, which after 40 years of neglect is a daunting and enormously expensive task.
Not everyone is happy with her appearance out of the blue; there have been shady financial dealings by persons trying to dupe her and her ex-fiance is out for every penny he can get from her.  
But she has fallen in love, not only with her new home, but a younger man as well...head over heels in fact. She also wants to delve into the secretive history of her and her mother's family.  What happened to her uncle, and why did her mother flee to the US?
The lush descriptions of the mansion, the village and the beautiful surroundings are so real you can feel the rain or sun on your face.  And oh my...the food!  It made me run to the kitchen to plan an Indian meal, make some chai and actually dash out and get a pound of strawberries!
I have to admit I skipped over the love scenes, but that's just me - it was a lovely read and highly recommended.
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While going through papers after her mother's death, Olivia finds increasingly urgent lawyers from a solicitor in England.  Her mother never mentioned anything about the papers so she follows up and finds not only has she inherited a huge estate, but also a title!  Too bad the estate hasn't hasn't been kept up for more than 40 years other than what the tenants managed to do.  Olivia is not exactly welcomed to the village, but eventually makes inroads by saying she is not selling the property, but will try to restore it.  The manor has 35 rooms, most of which are in a state of disrepair, however, Olivia perseveres.  She finds a key that her mother left and remembers the treasure hunts her mother sued to create for her. l Once again Olivia has a treasure hunt. A perfectly lovely book.
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I don't expect to like every book I pick up, but I was really disappointed that this one just didn't work for me. The cover is absolutely stunning and drew me in, but I just found the whole work to be a bit tedious. The descriptions in this book are numerous and instead of relishing in the details, I just wanted the plot to move forward. With that being said, I intend to check out a few of the author's other works to see if they're more to my liking. 

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and Barabara O'Neal for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Art of Inheriting Secrets is a wonderful read and one I highly recommend. 

Not only did this book have a charming English village filled with interesting characters, a crumbling manor house and lots of secrets, it had Olivia who I adored. I felt like I knew her and was rooting for her the entire book.

Barbara O'Neal's characters and descriptions are top notch and immerse you in the story and atmosphere quickly, making you want to stay there and for the book to never end.

Pick this up and read it, you'll be glad you did!
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When Olivia Shaw travels to England to see a Manor House that she has inherited, she has no idea what she's in for.  First off, she didn't even know that her mother owned this house and the land around it.  Then, as she begins to investigate this inheritance, and to talk to the townspeople [who insist on calling her "Lady Shaw" the Countess of Rosemere], she discovers more and more pieces of a most interesting puzzle, which includes Grant, her fiancée in America;  Samir and his family, who know a lot of the history of the estate;  and a treasure hunt left by her mom, with clues to guide her along the way.  Oh, and did I mention that Samir's sister Pavi is a chef, whose most delightful and mouth-watering foods tempt Olivia, who is editor of "Egg and Hen" magazine, and will tempt you as well. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip through the renovation of Rosemere and the rebuilding of Olivia's soul.

I read this EARC courtesy of Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing.    pub date 07/17/18
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Positively lovely story about a woman who finds herself thrown into British aristocracy when she inherits an estate (and a title) when her mother passes away.   Barbara O’Neal has an amazing way with words, especially when describing Rosemere and the surrounding village.    One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was watching Olivia’s relationships develop with the new people in her life.  I ended this book wanting more.   

Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This ia a very lightweight novel, billed as a romance - I would call it chick-lit. The unlikely story is of an American woman who inherits an estate in England (and a title!), when her mother dies, and goes over to sort it out. There is a steamy romance and lots and lots of food - recipes, restaurants, cooking, ingredients, etc. All sorts of mayhem is included; missing persons, fires, bones, deaths, car accidents, art and literature, dubious ancestors, mysterious pasts, corruption, double crossing, a silly treasure hunt, etc. etc. There are many irrelevant characters and the main characters are off the shelf. The image of an English village and country estate is highly romanticised (well, it would be, wouldn't it!) Olivia overcomes all of these obstacles and there is a happy ending, of course. There are many books out there with the theme of inheriting a mystery from the past, so the plot is not original. I did read to the end, so I gave it an extra star.
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What I liked:
The writing style 
The characters 

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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This book pulled me right in and would not let go. Olivia is a powerhouse of a young woman who inherits a very old estate that she never knew existed. 
It’s filled with great characters and beautiful scenery. It makes you feel like you are right there. I throughly enjoyed this book. It has something for everyone. Romance, history, mystery and intrigue. It’s one that you won’t want to put down until the very end and it will stay with you long after you finish.
I look forward to more of this author’s work.

Thank you to #Lake Union #NetGalley for the honor of reading this book. 
A big 5 stars from me.
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Olivia's mother has just passed away and she has inherited a centuries old manor house in England called Rosemere Priory.  It has been abandoned for 40 years but still holds onto some secrets.
I loved the cast of characters. From dreamy Samir, to his sister Pavi, who owns a fabulous Indian restaurant in town, to the lush English countryside.
Barbara O'Neal creates such beautiful imagery of springtime in England, a crumbling old manor house and wonderful spicy Indian food. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about new love and old family secrets.  I look forward to the next Barbara O'Neal book.  
Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book for review
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This book blew me away, It’s been a long time coming to have a new book from Barbara O’Neal. The story of Olivia, the background of India and of course the delicious words for the food that was showcased in the story did not disappoint.  The love story of Samir and Olivia is a beautiful song while the English house she inherits is one everyone will want to be a part of. Thank you for the advanced copy - I can’t wait to reread the story when it comes out
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"My first glimpse of Rosemere Priory came just before dusk, when the last of the day’s sunlight fingered the old stones a rosy gold. It was vast and rambling, bay upon bay of Elizabethan windows, with two crenellated towers pointing into an eggplant sky. 

Everything I knew about my mother shattered in that instant."

"The Art of Inheriting Secrets" opens with these strong, beautiful words. And so I tumbled onto an old English estate, joining Olivia Shaw as she unraveled the secrets of her ancestors, uncovered her own deepest desires, and befriended English people from several classes.

Like all of Barbara's books, this one features strong women, good men, families, dogs, food, and adventure. The addition of mystery, history, and a delicious romance made "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" a very satisfying read about true nobility.

“Our families have been neighbors for more than four centuries. Four hundred years,” he added for weight. “Always, it was the Barbers and the Shaws, side by side. We stood in solidarity over many things and quarreled about others, but I believe our people have always stood for the same ideas—that with great wealth comes responsibility.”
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Barbara O'Neal has written an amazing story in The Art of Inheriting Secrets.   This book had so much that drew me in.  There is the mystery, the drama, the romance and the discovery of a future that wasn't planned.   
The main character is Olivia Shaw.  She has lost her mother and has inherited a secret her mother kept from her, her whole life.  An English estate that has been in the family for centuries. 
The Mystery:
 Her mother leaves her an English estate that Olivia had never known existed. It's dilapidated, has been abandoned many years and is in serious disrepair.  Olivia travels to England to settle her mother's affairs and finds that she WANTS to remain there and restore this estate.  Then comes the mysterious clues her mother has left....a "treasure hunt" of sorts.   Olivia is searching for clues to find out why her mother left and never went back.  
The Drama:
Olivia has left behind a long term does he fit in or does he?  What does he think she owes him?
The Romance:
What's an old English estate without some romance thrown in?   Have to have that! With a hunk of a guy, at that!
The Future:
How is this mystery going to be solved and what does that mean for Olivia?  Who will be there for her as she searches for the answers?
Barbara O'Neal writes in such a descriptive way.  I could "feel" the emotions of Olivia.  I could "taste" and "smell" the foods that were described, but I think the best part was I could "see" the beautiful countryside and the scenery in the English countryside in and around the estate.  
There are so many passages in the book that stood out for me and I wanted to include a few in my review because they represent the descriptive talent Barbara has :
"It was also the first glass of wine I'd had in weeks, and it hit my tongue like a dance troupe, tapping all my taste buds, waking me up."
"There is another famous quote from Tagore," he said, holding my face. "'I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.' That's what this is, you and me."
"And she set all this up, the treasure hunt, so that I would have something to do other than fall apart over her death.  She knew I would be lost, so she gave me a place to find her."
This is a book I totally enjoyed.  It is a beautiful and stunning story that had me turning the pages and trying to figure out what all the clues pointed to and how Olivia would find her answers.  
Thank you Lake Union and Barbara O'Neal for the privilege of reading such a wonderful story.
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