Washington Post Book World
Ambitious…engrossing…the plot is equal parts evil, rivalry, and romance.
The Washington Post
The Harte saga is as much a force of nature as a work of fiction…the issues at stake still compel readers after 25 years. Bradford understood early on readers' hunger for depictions of women who are strong and powerful and whose values embrace family. A quarter-century ago, Emma Harte crossed the no-woman's-land that once divided family and business, and now generations of readers consider her a role model in their own lives.
Miami New Times
Bradford gives her readers more of what she does beststrong, savvy female protagonists who relentlessly pursue great destinies, characters much like the author herself…well-written and full of emotion…completely riveting…the plot, while always complex, has suspenseful moments to keep the pace sharp…good reading…Unexpected Blessings clearly shows why Bradford is still the premier writer of family sagas.
The enduring theme of family loyalty ennobles the Harte family saga and raises it to a heartwarming crescendo that longtime fans will appreciate. New readers will relish it as well.
New York Daily News
In her 19th novel, the grande dame of mass-market fiction revisits her first heroinethe indomitable Emma Harte.
Woman's Day Magazine
So many of us turn to novels like Barbara Taylor Bradford's latest, Emma's Secret for our daily dose of amour.
Promises to tantalize, mesmerize, and titillate readers of all ages. It has all the Bradford touches: strong and swift plot, hints of secrets about to be revealed…spellbinding… destined to fly off bookseller's racks and be passed around many book clubs. It is a darn good read.
The New York Times
An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death, and passion.
Los Angeles Times
It is easy to want every item Bradford catalogues, easy to imagine wearing it, eating and drinking it, driving it, smelling like it…The geography of Voice of the Heart takes a reader to all the right places.
A wonderfully entertaining novel.
The Daily Express (UK)
It really keeps you turning the pages, wondering just why it is that two beautiful women who were once great friends are now sworn enemies.
Literary Guild Magazine
A rare treat. We guarantee you will laugh and cry with the characters and that you won't be able to put it down.
Pure gold-certain to be a runaway bestseller.
A vibrantly characterized leading lady and a glimpse at the dazzling world of the rich and powerful. A richly woven tale.
This novel continues the Bradford tradition of spirited romances peopled with memorable, self made women…fetching.
A sweeping saga full of passion and intrigue…a gripping read.
The Times (London)
Barbara Taylor Bradford is the storyteller of substance.
A novel for everyone…A satisfying, lushly detailed saga.
The Daily Mail (London)
A compulsive read.
Will keep you up till all hours reading just one more chapter before you can bear to turn out the bedside light.
The Pittsburgh Press
A master storyteller and character builder, Ms. Bradford again crafts another reader-holder novel…Act of Will is another winner.
San Diego Union
A rich tapestry of love and romance. The surprise ending is both poignant and fitting.
USA Today Weekend Magazine
Bradford's characters are so real, readers clamor to know them better.
RT Book Reviews
Bradford's latest is a truly remarkable conclusion to her beloved Harte family saga. The characters' lives intertwine to create a riveting and intense plot. Not many novels have the ability to completely immerse the reader, but this one draws you into the story from the very first page.
Fans of Bradford will be delighted to reacquaint themselves with tried-and-true favorites from her previous novels.
"Top Pick" RT BOOKclub Magazine
[An] original story with new energy. Emma Harte is one of those characters whom we never want to leave behind, and thank goodness Bradford has brought her back to us with a story worthy of this truly remarkable woman.
The Washington Times
Voice of the Heart is the sort of book I cannot resist, indeed I pray to find.
Another instant bestseller. The men and woman are all gorgeous, rich, well-dressed. There are luxurious descriptions in this perfect page-turner.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford brings her Harte family saga to a close in this engrossing finale, which not only leaves the reader wanting more but -- shhh! -- leaves the door open for still another chapter.
After 25 years, passions, revenge, envy, and unbridled ambition are still taking their toll on the Harte family, this time on Emma Harte's great-grandchildren. There's Linnet O'Neill and Evan Hughes, both with dreams of revitalizing Harte's, the famous British department store; and Tessa, Linnet's sister, who wants her share of power. Waiting malevolently in the wings is Jonathan Ainsley, Robin's son, looking for an opportunity for revenge. Evan's adopted sister, Angharad, has an equally strong desire for payback and is very much attracted to Jonathan.
It's all very Dynasty-like and very delicious. Bradford keeps the pace moving briskly as she takes the reader from one great British house to another and expertly brings the various subplots together in a surprising conclusion. Ginger Curwen
Can this be, as advertised, the final episode in the Harte family saga? A Woman of Substance (1979), the story of Emma Harte's triumph over poverty and illegitimacy to found England's greatest department store, and its four sequels were huge bestsellers. Now Emma's great-granddaughter, Linnet O'Neill, must defend the empire and family against evil uncle Jonathan Ainsley. But words such as "granddaughter" and "uncle" don't do justice to the complexities. It takes four and a half pages of front matter to enumerate the Harte, Kallinski and O'Neill clans whose intertwining lives drive the saga. Emma's descendants offer a helping hand to new in-laws-and the reader-by uttering sentences such as these: "Through his great-grandfather, Winston the First, Emma is Gideon's great-great-aunt. But she is also Gideon's great-grandmother, because Emma was my grandmother." Weddings and funerals keep the local caterer busy and offer crescendos of activity, if scant emotion. Although Ainsley's malevolence hovers behind the story and leads to near disasters, there's never a doubt that the strong women will triumph-though not without struggle. Series devotees will take heart at the ending, which hints that Ainsley's evil will survive his death and the struggles will continue offstage even if Bradford lays down her golden pen. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The final episode of the Harte family saga (which began with A Woman of Substance) focuses on the travails of four of Emma Harte's great-granddaughters. Newlywed Linnet wants to modernize and lead the family business. Divorcee Tessa also wants to be at the helm of the empire, but she has some personal issues to confront first. Evan prepares to marry and give birth but is put in danger after an unexpected confrontation. India also plans a wedding but has to adapt when her fianc 's young daughter comes to live with them. Throw in some disgruntled people hellbent on wreaking havoc, and you have quite a soap opera! And thank goodness for the juicy storylines because this book suffers from astonishingly wooden dialog that bloats the otherwise readable text. Is this really the end? As always, Bradford kindly prefaces the book with genealogical information on the "Three Clans" (the Hartes, O'Neills, and Kallinskis), and summaries of past important events are woven throughout as necessary. But the number of characters to keep track of is staggering, and newbies may find it difficult to appreciate new developments while trying to make sense of old ones. Still, public libraries should stock up. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/05.]-Samantha Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Weightless entry in the florid Emma Harte saga (Unexpected Blessings, 2005, etc.) follows the machinations of envious grandson Jonathan Ainsley as he plots revenge on the inheritors of a landmark London store. A couple of tidy paragraphs brings us up to date in the story of how matriarch Emma (first seen in A Woman of Substance, 1979) founded the Knightsbridge emporium, the flagship in her business empire that is now run by granddaughter Paula O'Neill. Jonathan, having failed to wrest the business away from cousin Paula in the 1980s, is now facing a new generation of family operators in the form of her redheaded cousin (and boss) Linnet O'Neill, Paula's daughter and designated heir, and American Evan Hughes, pregnant with twins by her lover, Gideon Harte. Linnet has just married Julian Kallinski, scion of a family branch to be exploited in future titles, no doubt. As Linnet cooks up ideas to revamp the store (though her mother is determined to keep Harte in its "traditional mode"), Evan prepares to have her twins while planning for her imminent wedding (postponed so as not to compete with Linnet's). Jack Figg, head of Harte security, naturally worries about the event, since there are jealous, troublesome siblings to deal with, such as Gideon's brother Toby and Evan's crass 23-year-old sister Angharad. Meanwhile, India Standish, Emma's great-grandchild, hopes to wed famous artist Russell Rhodes, aka Dusty, although he has first to deal with the fallout from his previous druggie girlfriend, Melinda Caldwell. Tessa Fairley, last seen recovering her kidnapped daughter Adele, pines for new boyfriend Jean-Claude Deleon, a renowned French journalist posted to Afghanistan. Jonathan and Angharadseal a dark and ominous deal that will certainly come to light in the next installment. Marriages, babies, rivals-and none of it will leave the slightest trace after the book is closed.
Read an Excerpt
THE STORMY PETRELS
"The name 'petrel' is said to be a diminutive of Peter: when feeding the bird flits and hovers just above the water, often with feet pattering on the surface, appearing to 'walk on water' as St. Peter did in the Bible story."
- Field Guide to the Birds of Britain
Evan Hughes stood in the middle of the fashion floor of Harte's department store in London's Knightsbridge. It was seven o'clock in the morning, and nothing stirred. By eight the cleaners would be moving around this vast space, and by nine a few of the dedicated sales staff would be arriving to prepare for the store doors opening at ten. Now, though, she was totally alone.
She loved this store and this floor in particular. It was her domain. And hers alone. Last week she had been made head of fashion, a big promotion which had thrilled her. But in her personal life, Evan had big decisions to make.
As she moved slowly across the floor, making for the new haute couture fashion displays, she couldn't help thinking about the first day she had walked into Harte's. January 2001. Eight months ago now. She had been very lucky that day. Quite by chance she had met the man of her dreams and found the job of her dreams. She had certainly never thought her dreams would come true that day. But in some ways, they did.
Pausing for a moment, Evan glanced around, her intelligent, light gray-blue eyes devouring everything: the fashion displays under bright lights, the elegance of the whole floor, such an important one in this prestigious department store, considered the greatest in theworld.
Harte's of Knightsbridge had been founded by one of the most famous merchant princes ever known: Emma Harte. She had been dead now for thirty years, and the store was run by Emma's granddaughter Paula O'Neill. Paula, an elegant woman in her mid-fifties, had inherited her grandmother's skills and brilliance as a retailer, and her daughters Tessa and Linnet were following in her footsteps. Both of them worked at the store; Tessa was in charge of the first three floors, which sold cosmetics, perfumes, leisure wear, lingerie, and active sports clothes. Linnet, Tessa's half sister, was in charge of the fashion floors and worked with Paula on public relations.
It was Linnet O'Neill who had hired Evan to be one of her assistants, and for the first few months Evan had helped Linnet put together a retrospective of fashion, which had been a huge success and pulled many new customers into the store.
Linnet. Tessa. Ambitious and complicated, they were now part of Evan's life.
As a reward for all her hard work and dedication, Linnet had given her this promotion...and Evan was in her element.
Evan stood in front of the couture fashion displays which had been finished late last night. They were great, she decided. The display staff had done a good job with the clothes she had selected.
Turning away, she walked down the floor, making for her office. Tall, slender, and dark haired, she was good looking, elegant. Back at her desk she glanced at the photograph of Gideon Harte. She had fallen in love with him, and he with her, that first day when he had bumped into her in the corridor. She had been looking for the management offices, and he had led her there, all the while firing questions at her. And it was Gideon who had told his cousin Linnet about her; Linnet had subsequently interviewed her and given her a job.
Sitting back in her chair, Evan thought about the past eight months and all that had happened.
She had never expected to find a second family in England. Only a year ago the only family she knew were her mother and father, and her two adopted sisters, who lived in Connecticut. But all that had changed because of her grandmother Glynnis Hughes. On her deathbed her grandmother had told Evan to go to England to find Emma Harte, adding that Emma was the key to her future. And Evan had done exactly that, only to discover Emma was dead. But she had fallen in love with the store and decided to get a job there.
And now here she was, working at Harte's, planning a future with Gideon, and struggling to adapt herself to a whole new family... because she herself was actually a Harte. It was Paula who had discovered through Emma's diaries that Evan was another great-granddaughter of Emma Harte's, because Evan's grandmother Glynnis had given birth to a son fathered by one of Emma's sons. And that child was Evan's father.
They had welcomed her, treated her kindly and with enormous understanding, but at times things had been difficult for Evan. So many things to unravel, so much to accept, so many people to get to know. Sometimes it seemed endless to her.
Most troubling of all was the knowledge she had about her father's biological father...which she had been afraid to relay to him. Would her father, Owen Hughes, welcome the information? Would he really want to know that the man who had brought him up was not his father after all? She didn't know, and she continued to wrestle with these questions.
Evan knew she had to come to a decision. Her mother and father were coming to London in a week or so, to spend time with her and have a vacation. Could she look her father in the eye and not tell him the truth? Could she keep it a secret? And should she? Nobody could advise her really. Gideon had told her to do what she thought best, and everyone else had been noncommittal.
The ball was back in her court.
Then there was Robin Ainsley, her new grandfather, the man who had been her grandmother's lover during the Second World War. He had been a pilot in the Royal Air Force, a Battle of Britain pilot, and her grandmother, Glynnis Jenkins then, had been a young woman from Wales who worked as Emma Harte's secretary, in this very store.
Evan liked Robin; her feelings were even stronger than that. And she knew only too well that he longed to meet his son Owen Hughes. But would her father want to meet this "stranger"...a stranger who was his real father? His mother's lover. 'Oh God.'
Evan turned on her computer and after a few moments started to work on it, but within an hour the troubling thoughts about Robin, Glynnis, and her father's imminent arrival began to intrude. Turning the computer off, she made her decision. She would take Linnet's advice and go to Yorkshire after all for a week's rest. And she would go to see Robin Ainsley, still needing to know about his relationship with her grandmother, and most of all to truly understand why Robin and Glynnis had never married.
Copyright 2005 by Barbara Taylor Bradford