Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" by Barbara O'Neal, Served with a Strawberry-Coriander Lassi

I am excited to be on the TLC Book Tour for The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal--an author whose work I really enjoy. Accompanying my review is a unique and refreshing Strawberry-Coriander Lassi inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.
One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

Print Length: 359 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 17, 2018)

My Review:

Barbra O'Neal's books are perfect for when you want something on the lighter side to escape to and especially if you like that escape to have a foodie element. She writes women's fiction, often romantic fiction with heroines that may have tragedy or sadness in their past and are starting over, often discovering things about themselves and their pasts. Her characters are appealing and easy to root for. Take Olivia Shaw, the lead character in The Art of Inheriting Secrets, for example. Olivia recently lost her artist mother only to find that she has inherited a crumbling English estate and is now Lady Shaw--family history her mother never shared with her. Olivia heads to England to learn about her past and why it was kept from her and to solve the clues her mother has left her. In the village surrounding Rosemere Priory, Olivia meets a cast of characters including a hunky and younger roof thatcher, his sister--a talented cook and restaurant owner, an elderly friend of her grandmother in the titled set, who befriends and advises her, and a group of townspeople and neighbors that may be out to help her restore the estate or may want to buy it out from under her. I liked Olivia--I could relate to her sadness over losing her mother and I envied her job as a food and travel writer and editor for a food magazine. There are no big surprises in the story, the romance, and the family mystery--but that's okay. Sometimes I just need a book that draws me in, takes me away, keeps me absorbed (and occasionally drooling over the food), and leaves me feeling satisfied--and The Art of Inheriting Secrets accomplished it all. A great book for your end of summer reading list and if you haven't experienced Barbara O'Neal's writing before, I also recommend her How to Bake a Perfect Life, The Secret of Everything, and The Garden of Happy Endings.  


Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of eleven novels of women’s fiction, including How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Her award-winning books have been published in a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

Barbara O'Neal writes great foodie novels and so there was plenty of food inspiration to choose from in The Art of Inheriting Secrets--especially Indian cuisine from one of the side character's restaurant--called Coriander and some classic English fare. Food mentions included fish-and-chips, ale, a hearty English breakfast of eggs, beans and tomatoes, a venison stew, cinnamon rolls and Chelsea buns, paneer prawn tikka with mango chutney and red onion, papadum with mint coriander chutney, raita, paneer, lamb kheema with jeera rice, gulab jamun, chicken shawarma and Israeli salad, carrot cake, hot chocolate, lemonade, fresh strawberries, lemony soup with parsley and spring onion, fish and rice, oatmeal with blueberries, a strawberry-coriander smoothie (aka: a 'posh' lassi), asparagus with soft eggs and toast and coconut asparagus with black mustard seed, cumin, garlic and chiles, a latte, mulligatawny, chapatti, a rose lassi, chai, donuts, and nutbreads, scones and tea.

Any number of the Indian dishes mentioned would have made me happy, but the Strawberry-Coriander Lassi (which Pavi a smoothie as it sold better that way) kept calling to me and so it had to be my book-inspired dish. I love a good, cool and creamy lassi (there are six on the blog right now, including a Vegan/Dairy-Free Mango Lassi I recently made for another book review.) I decided to make this one without dairy too. It's not traditional as they usually include yogurt, but with some recent hazy skies already this week, my asthma and allergies didn't need any help in making me stuffier. If you want a more traditional version, replace the non-dairy ingredients with milk and regular yogurt. 

Vegan/Dairy-Free Strawberry-Coriander Lassi
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
sweetener of choice to taste if needed/desired--I used 2 tsp of maple syrup in mine
ice cubes/ice water, if needed/desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little ice water or ice cubes as needed and continue to blend until smooth and pourable. Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored, cover in the fridge for a day or so.   

Notes/Results: I loved the hit of of coriander with the sweetness of the strawberries--it makes the lassi even more refreshing. Of course, if you are not a fan of cilantro, you can omit it. I left out any additional spices or flavors wanting to keep the strawberries and cilantro the focus, but you could pop in some cinnamon or coriander or even a little rosewater if desired. The lassi got a little short-shifted in the picture department as I was not able to take photos in daylight and I was exhausted getting home from work and commuting this week, but it made for a delicious and reviving part of my evening meal and the leftovers were a great breakfast drink. I will happily make it again.

Garlic and Sapphires is my eighth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the August 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post. (Note: This week I'm hosting so look for the post here on Saturday!) ;-)

Note: A review copy of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.



  1. I have really enjoyed reading this author's other books. I am a bit out of the loop so didn't realise that she had a new one coming out. I will definite be looking out for this one.

  2. Another author I now want to give a try. Sounds good, as does your lassi with the combination of sweet fruit and savory type spice. I usually make mine with kefir, as it's always going here.

  3. Spot on review. Sometimes you do need just a little light reading. I am so glad you whipped this Posh Lassi up. I was tempted but am in a mango state of mind this summer. I do want to try this, Deb.

  4. I haven't ever read any of her books before but they sound like I'd love them.


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