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When was the last time you happened upon a book that hooked you by the cover art, then grabbed you by the marvelous characterization?  (Warning: I love books about transformation, healing and growth. So if you tend more toward war books, science fiction fantasy or vampires, this blog may not be for you.)

For those of you who are still with me, I just finished a great novel by Barbara O’Neal, called The Secret of Everything.  The cover was intriguing, depicting a young woman climbing up old stairs, peering around a door into the unknown.  A black and white sheltie mix is gazing up at her in adoration and protection.  What was she looking for?  Of course, the title piqued my curiousity…what was the ‘secret of everything?’

The story is about Tessa Harlow, a single  woman in her late thirties who discovers, quite by accident, that she is not who she thought she was.  Tessa is fiercely independent and passionately lovely, and her quest for truth becomes the journey she never knew she had to take.

As she learns more about her past, Tessa’s heartbreak almost crushes her spirit, until she makes a leap of faith and shares her loss with Vince Grasso, a stranger who is strangely familiar.  The adroit use of the New Mexico mountains provides a dramatic setting for Tessa and Vince’s love story.  Intertwined in the plot are several characters who break your heart, but in the end, love prevails.

An added bonus are the wonderful recipes shared as part of the story.  Food, lovingly prepared for the characters, helps promote healing and new insights.  The sense that preparation of that same recipe in your life might bring about the same results makes you want to try it out for yourself.  Sharing the recipes that are part of the story is a delightful way to connect the reader to the themes in the book.

If you are looking for a great summer read, that will capture your attention and your heart, The Secret of Everything is just what you need.

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