The Secret of Everything: A Novel by Barbara O’Neal (Bantam, $15.00, 400 pages)
Barbara O’Neal presents an enjoyable story about self-discovery, healing, romance, and adventure in her novel, The Secret of Everything.
Tessa Harlow is a woman in her mid-thirties on a quest to discover the details of her hidden past. Following a traumatic accident that occurred while leading one of her adventure trips, Tessa attempts to heal both physically and emotionally by returning to her birthplace in Los Ladrones, New Mexico. While Tessa allows her wounds to mend, she begins to do research for a possible upcoming adventure tour in her hometown. On her journey she becomes romantically involved with a widower, and begins to make instant connections with the townspeople of Los Ladrones, most of whom trigger a memory from the past. As she delves into the culture and history of this town, she discovers more than she had envisioned and slowly uncovers the secrets of her past.
O’Neal does a remarkable job of bringing her characters to life through description and dialogue, while exposing the true beauty of New Mexico. Each character is likeable and interesting and, although they become unrealistically connected as the tale unfolds, the reader will enjoy the storyline and become entranced with her novel until its very end.
O’Neal also add a literally delicious touch to her story by describing the culinary dishes that Tessa explores and provides her readers with some of her favorite recipes. If you’re not a “foodie” then you will no doubt be entertained by the charming dogs that are connected to Tessa throughout the story, each of which has a tail (or is it tale?) of their own.
This novel would make a great summer beach book, or serve as a fun focus for Book Club discussions. It is light and enjoyable and, therefore, well recommended.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.