Book Review Club: The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O’Neal #review

Art of Inheriting Secrets cover

This book was recommended by mystery author Kate Carlisle, so when I saw it was available for free at Amazon on Prime Reading, I read it, and I’m so glad I did. I had recently finished reading a literary novel with tons of dry narrative, so I was delighted to find a book written by a master storyteller. I was able to relax and immerse myself in the world O’Neal so vividly created. Later I realized that Barbara O’Neal used to write historical romance as Barbara Samuel, whose books I had loved. Why publishers feel they have to hide a writer’s romance roots, I will never understand.

The Art of Inheriting Secrets: A Novel
by Barbara O’Neal
Lake Union Publishing, 2018

When food editor Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, she learns that her mom, who never talked about her background, has left her an estate in England. An honest-to-god landed estate, complete with crumbling manor house, a ruined abbey and a title. Reeling from grief and shock, the new Countess of Rosemere flies to England to assess her inheritance and discovers more secrets.

Olivia doesn’t intend to fall in love with England, not to mention trying to resist the charms of a certain Indian-American author, but lately nothing in her life has gone according to plan. Some of the locals she encounters help her, while others work to actively undermine her. She runs into lots of pitfalls and obstacles, but also finds joy and a sense of belonging.

The book is so well-written, the characters seem real, and the description is wonderful, esp. Olivia’s lyrical descriptions of the food she eats, befitting a food editor.

Highly recommended for fans of women’s fiction, Downton Abbey, or anyone just wanting a feel good read.

Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.

Linda McLaughlin

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Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray Women’s Fiction #review

My regular monthly Book Review Club is dark this month, but I’m still posting a review of Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray.

Eat Cake cover

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray
Women’s Fiction

The topic for my readers group this month is Luck of the Draw. I literally drew this title out of a bag, not knowing anything about it. I downloaded the e-book from my local public library.

This is a light read that I’d call Women’s Fiction. Ruth is a happily married wife whose life falls apart when two big things happen. Her husband, Sam, loses his job as a hospital administrator, and her absent father, Guy, breaks both wrists and needs somewhere to stay. Having Guy wouldn’t be so bad, but Ruth’s mother Hollis also lives with them, and the two ex-spouses can’t stand each other. Or can they?

Ruth has been an avid baker all her life, and when she took a meditation class, she found her safe spot by picturing herself inside a big Bundt cake. Whenever she’s stressed, she bakes cakes. When it looks they will run out of money before Sam finds another job–esp. since he seems more interesting in buying and restoring wooden boats–Guy suggests that Ruth go into the cake baking business, which forces her out of her comfort zone. Pretty soon the whole family is involved in her fledgling “Eat Cake” business.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were all memorable, flawed but sympathetic, like real people. Guy is a real character, an aging charmer who plays the piano in fancy hotels and restaurants. Hollis, her sharp-tongued mother, discovers that she still has a soft spot in her heart for her wayward spouse, and Camille, the sulky teen, comes through in a big way. Very enjoyable.

Mozart Cake

Mozart Cake at Cafe Mozart, Old Town Prague

The descriptions of Ruth’s cakes are mouth-watering, and the author includes recipes at the end. I’m very proud of myself for reading the entire book without running to the store to buy pieces of cake.

Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club will return in October.