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Publisher's Summary

In this spectacular 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 37, 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 adventurous vacationers - a job that's taken her around the world but never a step closer to home. Then a freak injury during a trip already marred by tragedy forces her to begin her greatest adventure of all.

Located high in the New Mexico mountains, Las Ladronas has become a magnet for the very wealthy and very hip, but once upon a time it was the setting of a childhood trauma Tessa can only half remember. Now, as she rediscovers both her old hometown and her past, Tessa is drawn to search-and-rescue worker Vince Grasso. The handsome widower isn't her type. No more inclined to settle down than Tessa, Vince is the father of three, including an eight-year-old girl as lost as Tessa herself. But Tessa and Vince are both drawn to the town's most beloved eatery - 100 Breakfasts - and to each other. For Tessa, the restaurant is not only the key to the mystery that has haunted her life but a chance to find the home and the family she's never known.

©2009 Barbara Samuel (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Easy, Sweet Read

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is the first book I read by this author and I had no idea what to expect.

This was at its core a story about coming home. And not just for the main character. The author spends the book showing us that you have to come home to learn the truth about yourself and that when you are home, miracles occur. Perhaps not plausible, but one can dream.

I liked the way the recipes were woven into the story and the way the author used food and dogs to express emotions, spirituality, love and the magic of life.

It was a little sappy. But I have to admit that I was happy that Tessa seemed to fall as much in love with Vince's oldest daughter as she did with Vince himself.

The narration was great. I recommend the book. I highly enjoyed it and will read other books by this author.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not the story for me.

After reading MANY rave reviews about the story, I was excited to dive in. I gave it almost 3 hours and found myself overwhelmingly bored with the story. As always, the narration of Angela Dawe was great, but unfortunately the story itself did not start to unfold fast enough to capture my interest.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Deliciously Good

I ended up really enjoying The Secret of Everything - the audiobook version. At the beginning I wasn't too sure of how it was being narrated. But very soon I was right into it. Angela Dawe did a great job with all the different characters voices, everyone was different.

Tessa has some past griefs that cause her trouble, she has been in an accident and is part recovering, part looking for a new tramping tours spot and part seeking out her past that has been lost to her because her memory can't recall it. There is a mystery there for her - and when its finally solved some big surprises.

Vince, the guy she meets has three adorable daughters and when they entered the story I was totally hooked. Natalie is the oldest at eight and she is struggling somewhat, she remembers her mother before she died, her two younger sisters don't. Natalie also has a growing appreciation of food which sometimes puts her off side with her grandmother. Natalie and Tessa develop a bond that takes them eventually on a pilgrimage.

Vida owns 100 Breakfasts and this is where the food element comes in. She has had a tough life but her cafe is popular and she gives jobs to women who for example are on parole. She helps them get on their feet. One such woman is Annie who is learning all things from Vida. At the end of some chapters their is one of Vida's breakfast recipes. Natalie has sampled a fair few of those!

There are some wonderful dogs in the story, the plot moves along at a leisurely and enjoyable pace. It is what is happening to the characters that count. With a few surprises there. Mystery, animals, food, children - great combination.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Regina
  • SOUTHINGTON, CONNECTICUT, United States
  • 11-24-14

Understanding who you are is always important

Would you consider the audio edition of The Secret of Everything to be better than the print version?

I don't know since I only have this story in audio form. However, I have read many stories from this author and love her stories.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret of Everything?

When Tessa finds out who she is and that she still has a sister.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Tessa shows up at Vince's and apologizes to Natalie, and asks for a chance to be part of his life.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

Any additional comments?

I've read a lot of Barbara Samuel's books and they are marvelous and very special. The characters are intriguing and well thought out. I love the career choices Samuel picks for her characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dina
  • LAKE ZURICH, IL, United States
  • 09-04-13

A Nice, Easy Read

Barbara O'Neal takes a romance and steps it up a notch with interesting characters and an unusual story line. It is also refreshing to see characters that are humanly flawed, yet still likable. I found the narrator a bit annoying as she ended each sentence with the same upbeat tone.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lia
  • Sutton, Australia
  • 05-26-14

Wonderful book


Tessa Harlow is recuperating from an injury sustained when a landslide occurred while she was leading a hiking tour group in the mountains and one of the members was swept into the river and drowned. Tessa's own rescue from the river awakened long-dormant memories of a similar rescue when she was a child, an accident about which her father has been strangely quiet, though it was responsible for her mother's death.

Drawn to the New Mexico town of Las Ladronas and thinking it would be the ideal destination for a future tour group, Tessa finds herself embroiled in a series of strange emotions and coincidences that add layer upon layer to the mystery of her life and questions about the relationships between people in the story who seem to be so drawn to each other. Of course there is delicious love interest in the person of Vince Grasso, a handsome widower with three appealing little girls, one of whom is troubled over the death of her own mother and to whom Tessa feels especially drawn. Sparks and sex fly and together they help each other heal.

The book's appeal is heightened by the charming presence of very affectionate dogs and the sprinkling of real recipes (the author is actually a food professional herself). The recipes remind the reader of the power of good, nourishing food, lovingly prepared, to comfort and heal.

I was so sorry when this book ended...it gave great pleasure.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

"Pedro"

Would you listen to The Secret of Everything again? Why?

Oh yes, as there are great recipes you want to write down.
Note: I listened on new 1.25x speed so the mystery matched the author's intent.
Yes, this has a slow start, and I too almost gave up, but other reviewers hit this story spot on, NOT TOO be MISSED. Just speed up if you think the story is a bit slow, but stick with it or you will miss out.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Vince, is hot, sweet and hunky. When he carries the old dog to the beach, you can see it in your minds eye. Pedro, you have to hug him to death or hold on. Felix, everyone should get to have one.

Have you listened to any of Angela Dawe’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have over 100 of her reads as I buy the stories she reads and discover new authors. She does men and children voices so well. ALL her Scots voices are the very best. See Julie Garwood's Sweet Talk and Tiffany Snow's series if you like this story. Nora Roberts' MacGregor series has the best Scot's character, "The MacGregor", not to be missed.
Note: I use the 1.25x speed to get the most out of the stories.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-06-18

Irritating narration, lovely story

First, the narrator almost ruined my enjoyment of this book, overemphasizing (different to articulating) almost every word, only relieved during the narration of character dialogues other than the main character Tessa. I sort of learned to ignore it, and could concentrate on the journies of the characters and the lovely tenderness that ms samuels can bring to the relationships between the characters, lovers, parents and children, and friends. I think that and the intimacy that she can express so well is one of the reasons i have enjoyed some of her contemporary novels. i love the way she explores the tenderness and care of beautiful fathers towards daughters - very attractive traits!