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The Secret of Everything

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,974 ratings  ·  276 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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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
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
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
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
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
Kimberly Kincaid
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
Sharon A.
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
Carolyn Hill
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
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
"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 ---
Maureen Mullis
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
Christina Mitchell
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
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
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

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
Barbara O'Neal's The Secret of Everything was a good story. But I found it hard to get interested until almost midway through the book. Tessa Harlow leads hiking tours for adventurous vacationers. An accident and injury during a trip forces her to take a break from hiking. Tessa decides to return to Los Ladrones, New Mexico, a place form her early childhood. This visit brings back pieces of her memory. She meets hospitable people, and some of them seem familiar. In most of the early parts of the ...more
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
more mysterious then the other ones...this one had breakfast recipes throughout...YUM and the man...vince...sounds PERFECT for me :)
Tessa can't remember the first few years of her life. It is only when she has an upsetting incident as an adult that she really questions her past. Memories start flooding back to her, but no answers come along with them.
She runs back to the town where she was born. She hasn't been there in over 30 years and she can barely remember a moment of her life there. Her dad warns her that it's a bad idea, that it will bring up old demons.

She uses a partial truth, that she is scoping the area out for he
***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
Jac (For Love and Books)
See the full review at For Love and Books

This book was absolutely fantastic! Full of love, beautiful scenery and some really ins
Extend twists! Full review to come.


Barbara O'Neal is one of my recent found indulgences, if you follow my twitter it's obvious that I'm a huge fan-girl! Thankfully, The Secret of Everything (the 4th of her books I've read in the last month) was no disappointment. In fact, it was one of those cannot put it down, slump breaking books and I treasured every moment
Anna Motteler
This book is just WOW. I did not want to put it down & trust me, it was hard to put this book down even when I had to go to the bathroom.

Tessa is 37 and she is a wanderer. Her dad lives in California with 3 dogs. (Which by the way is funny, because one of the dogs name is Peaches & that's my dogs name) But anyway. She got injured during a hiking trip & she has been living with her dad in order for her broken arm to heal. She then decides to go to New Mexico to investigate for future
This was a beautifully written , moody book with lots of atmosphere and dreamy descriptions of food and the New Mexico landscape. It was a sensual delight in many ways and I felt transported into the world and characters in the story. I liked Tessa, the main character for the most part, but sometimes her "lone wolf" attitude and aloof nature were hard for me to relate to. She was interesting enough though, and I enjoyed the steamy romance she has with Vince. He is a widower with three little gir ...more
I loved Tessa’s close relationship with her father. It was just the two of them and Sam, as a quasi-recovering hippy, was easy to like. Some people grow up with two parents and still don’t have that much love and support.

I loved that the town of Las Ladronas was a town with a dog or cat for every resident and visitor. They were expected at shops and hotels and there was no shortage of four-legged companionship. It made me want to visit and hang out with all of the tail waggers.

I liked the beauti
Danica Page (One Page at a Time)
This book was an interesting read. I liked the characters and the story idea. However, it lacked that certain something to distinguish it has anything above three stars.

Tessa Harlow is a tourtist guide for a living, but after a terrible trip gone wrong she remembers a vague childhood memory of a time when she almost drowned. Determined to figure out the truth she returns to her childhood home, but what she finds is stranger than even she could even suspect.

Vince Grosso is search-and rescue and a
I picked The Secret of Everything up at the library based on goodreads' recommendation. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I really enjoyed reading this.

Tessa is a tour guide that's recovering from a previous accident (tour that went wrong), living with her dad trying to heal. She ends up heading towards New Mexico to a town where she knew she lived in / was born in but doesn't have much memory of. She thinks the little town could work out with her company for potential tours so she heads o
Barbara O'Neal has the knack of creating characters that are deeply engaging and compelling; she is also able to weave many different people's perspective into the story.

Tessa is recovering and trying to get back to her life, changed forever after a hiking trip goes terribly wrong. As an experienced traveler and hiker and as the leader of the tour, she carries a heavy load of responsibility. To gently transition back to her tour guide life, she goes to New Mexico to research a new site for tours
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is probably closer to 2.5 stars. If I hadn't won this one through GoodReads, I doubt I would bother to write a review. It's a completely inoffensive read but certainly not a terribly thought-provoking or deep one. It's a typical romance novel -love (and lust, of course) at first sight which neither of our protagonists are prepared for. Issues, issues, issues... then the inevitable happy ending that can be spotted from, oh, page 2 maybe. The author does do a good job of creating plot tension ...more
Melinda Freeland
May 10, 2012 Melinda Freeland rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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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
More about Barbara O'Neal...
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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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