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The Secret of Everything

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  2,604 Ratings  ·  334 Reviews
In this spectacular new novel, Barbara O’Neal delivers a generous helping of the best in life–family, food, and love–in the story of a woman’s search for the one thing worth more than anything.

At thirty-seven, Tessa Harlow is still working her way down her list of goals to “fall in love and have a family.” A self-described rolling stone, Tessa leads hiking tours for advent
Paperback, 385 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Bantam (first published December 9th 2009)
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Dec 21, 2009 Denise rated it it was amazing
The Secret of Everything is a beautiful story about love and family, good food and gorgeous landscape, faithful dogs and a mysterious town. Tessa is a hiking tour guide who is recovering from a traumatic, near drowning experience. As she recovers strange memories from her mysterious childhood begin to surface. She sets out for Los Ladrones, the small town in New Mexico where she was born, in an attempt to uncover the truth.

What a gorgeous book! The strength here is in the real, down to earth cha
Nov 09, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, 2009
I am one of the lucky ones who won a copy of this here on Goodreads and can't wait to get started! I loved The Lost Recipe for Happiness by this same author.

Edited to add...

I just finished this book, and I was so moved by it that I had to come right to Goodreads to post my review. I spent about seven hours today, devouring this book, and I enjoyed it so much. It had everything I look for in a book...wonderful characters that I felt an instant connection to, a location that makes me want to book
After a tragic accident on a hike she was leading, Tessa returns to Las Ladronas, the town in New Mexico where she was born. Living with almost overwhelming grief she starts searching for answers to questions that have long been buried. Questions of her childhood and the hippie commune where she lived the first years of her life.

While there she meets Vince, a single father who is raising his three daughters, one of whom is still grieving the devastating loss of her mother.

It's hard to avoid su
Dec 18, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
Tessa Harlow enjoyed leading hiking tours until the hike that had a nightmarish ending. Feeling tremendous guilt and responsibility for the incident she goes to her father's home to heal. From the time of the accident she has flashbacks from her early childhood - memories that don't make sense. Feeling a pull to the area where she spent the first years of her life, Tessa heads to New Mexico to scout possible hiking tours and that's where her journey really begins. By meeting people who are new t ...more
Dec 10, 2009 Sierra rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a magical blend of love, lust, grief and secrets. A mix of magical realism, chick lit, food lit, romance and mystery all in one story.
Quick synopsis: Tessa Harlow is a woman who has travelled the world but never truly found a home. A bad accident brings back long forgotten childhood memories and has her questioning herself so she travels to Las Ladronas, NM to rediscover herself by learning more about her past.
I really liked Tess. I was able to connect w
Sharon A.
Nov 13, 2009 Sharon A. rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. I had been on a run of reading fairly serious novels (The Historian, The Secret of the Wind), and had been looking for some light reads. Just before I received this goodreads giveaway, I had read an absolutely dreadful, formulaic chick lit/romance. So I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind when I started this one. Interesting premise, but unknown author and very few expectations.

Right off the bat I was smitten with Tess. Tess is in her late 30s, the child of a
Aug 19, 2011 Da rated it it was amazing
This book is so good!! I wish there was more stars to give it. The story is great, the characters are so well developed and she has such a beautiful way of kneading them gently and respectively into your experience; but in a way that you don't realize how deeply they have touched your soul. Every single one of them. Natalie is just the best child character I think I've read in a long time. She could have an entire movie, or kids show done about her. A kids show would be great. Anyway, I digress. ...more
Carolyn Hill
May 26, 2010 Carolyn Hill rated it liked it
I'd give this three and a half stars. For the most part I liked the main character, Tessa Harlow, who leads high end adventure tour hikes with diversions for nice restaurants. Sounds like a good gig to me. But after recovering from injuries in a terrible accident on a hike, she heads to the town of Los Ladrones in New Mexico to search for her past while scouting possible future tour locations. Born in a commune and raised by a former hippie surfer dude, she had nearly drowned in the river there ...more
Sep 15, 2016 Audrey rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite of her books so far. loved the different relationships and her soul searching family discovery
Kimberly Kincaid
Jun 23, 2011 Kimberly Kincaid rated it it was amazing
Another incredible offering from Barbara O'Neal, who is now an auto-buy for me, no questions asked. This book had a little bit of a different feel than both Lost Recipe and Perfect Life, but O'Neal's stunning language and insightful, poignant voice shines through from the first chapter. There's a lot of emotion in this book (as with her others), and I was drawn in on page 2, unable to stop thinking about the characters long after I'd put the book down. Tessa is so wonderfully flawed, humble yet ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Michelle rated it it was ok

I didn't love this book because I was either annoyed by the characters or ambivalent about them. The plot pretty much lost me at the mention of hippies and a commune. Also, Sam's mention of evil spirits in Los Ladrones (misspelled on the back cover--hilarious) is glossed over. There is one evil spirit, which he would know nothing about.

Vince's mother needs a whack upside her head. Who doesn't buy a kid an apple, especially when she's begging for one and said adult thinks that the k
Apr 04, 2012 Elyse rated it it was ok
"Eating a good hearty breakfast holds the secrets to life"....

Yet, I couldn't figure out why anyone would need a recipe for her 'Hearty Oatmeal' with raisins?
I've been cooking it that way for at least 30 years.

Also, It was the only Soluble Fiber breakfast mentioned in the towns beloved eatery of 100 Breakfasts. The other 99 choices didn't seem to be 'Heart Healthy' (so beware). ---"The Secret to Everything" (caution at your own risk)

On with my review:
The writing was amateurish ---
Nov 17, 2012 Marleen rated it liked it
***3,5*** I was compelled to read this Barbara O’Neal – my first – because I read The Sleeping Night that she wrote as Barbara Samuel and that book was simply amazing and utterly excellent. The Secret of Everything is more like a formulaic Nora-Roberts-type of romance novel. It was good, but not as outstanding as her Sleeping Night.
This is the story of Tessa Harlow, a hiking tour guide, who after a river accident a few months before, starts to have flashbacks of a childhood that is totally veil
Jan 31, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book doesn't belong in the top tier because it's not life-changing or edifying in any way, but boy does it entertain! It was the quintessential "beach book" and, if truth be told, probably a "chick book." It was just what I needed to push away the winter doldrums and get my mind off anything stressful, and I carried it with me so I could read whenever I was waiting for anything (dentist's office, meetings, etc.).

Tessa Harlow is recuperating from an injury sustained when a landslide occurred
Christina Mitchell
Apr 11, 2012 Christina Mitchell rated it it was ok
And....another book club read. :oD I would have never picked this up on my own. My honest opinion of the book: great summer beach read! Truly! It is filled with wonderful characters and just enough intrigue without heavy language or symbolism to enjoy from bath, to beach, to sangrias on the deck. It even has a surprise ending.

I gave it only two stars because I truly cannot deal with any romance. None. Zilch. That is my hang up. I fully admit I have a broken heart that calls for the constant repl
Jan 11, 2014 Sharon rated it liked it
The characters were interesting - all - to a person- emotionally damaged to one degree or another and searching.... The story line, about lost childhood memories of traumatic events surfacing in the present was entertaining, if not finely nuanced - it relied alot on improbable coincidences - so you were either into it or not. The descriptions of the New Mexico scenery were compelling, and there were the requisite steamy love scenes.

As with other O'Neal books food was a key part of the story, an
Jun 27, 2013 Tabs rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2009 Lea rated it it was amazing
FirstReads: This is the best book I have read in a while. There is something for everyone: Mystery, Romance, Food, Dogs, Beautiful Scenery. What more could you ask for?
Tessa is injured in a work accident, nearly drowned. This stirs up memories of her long buried childhood. As she recovers from her physical injuries, she is unable to heal as quickly from the emotional ones. Much to her father's dismay, she returns to the town where she was born, in the New Mexico mountains. There she meets many c
Nov 08, 2015 Trish rated it it was ok
Decent writing, but I feel like the author was just trying to tick off too many boxes with this book: mystery - 60s history - animal lovers - foodie novel (oh, and throw in some offbeat spirituality and some psychological trauma as well)

I think I was most disappointed with the foodie novel part, as that's what actually made me pick this up. She describes food, and even includes recipes, but there was nothing that made me want to toss the book aside and instantly try it. The descriptions just wer
Maureen Mullis
Mar 22, 2014 Maureen Mullis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
A very well written and interesting story, THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING tells about a young woman finding herself in her hidden past. The thing I like about Barbara O'Neal's books is that they are full of interesting characters and situations that you could easily see yourself in.

At times she is repetitive in her writing (every fountain in the book is "chuckling" for instance) but that is a small thing. Her writing is cohesive and her voice is strong and melodic. If you like women's fiction I would
Jan 20, 2012 Carrie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
more mysterious then the other ones...this one had breakfast recipes throughout...YUM and the man...vince...sounds PERFECT for me :)
Jan 16, 2010 Janga rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book--the characters, the setting, the plot, the prose! Natalie has been added to my top ten list of kids in fiction. Such a real, heart-tugging child!
Joan Silva
Jan 17, 2014 Joan Silva rated it it was amazing
Fun read. Love her books and storyline
Nov 05, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow
Sherri Robinson
Dec 29, 2016 Sherri Robinson rated it liked it
The book could have been so much better without the soft porn and the geography error. The book is about a pivotal accident on a river in Montana that doesn't go into Montana but is famous in Idaho. The characters, the setting in New Mexico and the cooking was wonderful. It would be really charming and a broader audience read without the gratuitous sex like in Lost Art of Mixing series.
Dec 21, 2016 Liana rated it it was amazing
Loved it! A bit of everything - romance, beautiful scenery, dogs, family, passion, love, food, mystery - will read more by this author :)
Dec 30, 2016 Meghan rated it it was amazing
I like this book more than I did the first time I think.
Jan 15, 2017 Sara rated it really liked it
Typical Barbara O'Neal... Good storyline, happy ending and food! Like the plot twists.
Melinda Freeland
May 10, 2012 Melinda Freeland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women who like to travel and cook
Recommended to Melinda by: Women & Books GR Bookclub April 2012 Pick
The title of Barbara O'Neal's novel says it all, as THE SECRET TO EVERYTHING includes a little bit of EVERYTHING for all kinds of readers.

Anyone who loves: outdoor adventures; animals; who is a foodie; nature lover; who likes learning about a tad of mysticism; who likes books about the bonds between family members; about relationships that occur between men and women in their 40s … any reader fond of these subjects should check this novel out for an enjoyable read!

The main character Tessa is a
Oct 06, 2016 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It combined some of my favorite things, nature, cooking/food and a happy ending. I love reading about people finding themselves. A really good read.
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Barbara Samuel (also known as Barbara O’Neal) is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, and has won Romance Writers of America’s RITA award an astounding six times. Her books have been published around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, and Australia/New Zealand, among others. One of her recent women’s fiction titles, The Lost Recipe for Happiness (written as Barbara O’Neal) went ...more
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“It was as if their feet ran on parallel train tracks and pulled in at the same stations at the same time, over and over.” 3 likes
“"I always read everything when I was a kid-and I do mean everything, from Nancy Drew to Dickens to my dad's John D. MacDonald-but then I went to regular school and the English teachers started telling me to read 'real' books, so I tried. And you know, I kinda went off reading for a while. I had already been reading literary novels and the classics mixed in with whatever else, but-" She waved a hand. "So I went back to reading whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to-reading had been my greatest pleasure in all the world. I mean I never really watched all that much television, because we were moving around, never really had solid digs until I was thirteen, so reading was everything.” 2 likes
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