Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Secrets from the Past

Secrets from the Past

3.8 39
by Barbara Taylor Bradford

See All Formats & Editions

Secrets from the Past is an epic, emotional novel of deeply-buried secrets, passionate love, obsession, and redemption from blockbuster bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford

At thirty years old, American photojournalist Serena Stone has already made a name for herself with her dramatic coverage of wars in the Middle East, following in her


Secrets from the Past is an epic, emotional novel of deeply-buried secrets, passionate love, obsession, and redemption from blockbuster bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford

At thirty years old, American photojournalist Serena Stone has already made a name for herself with her dramatic coverage of wars in the Middle East, following in her famous father's footsteps. But after his unexpected death in France, Serena leaves the front lines behind, weary of years of danger. Back in New York, she begins work on a biography of her celebrated father. When Serena discovers that her former lover, Zachary North, is in trouble overseas, she's forced to leave the safety of her new life and head back to a place she was trying to escape…and her life will never again be the same. As she brings Zac back to health in Venice, she discovers a shocking secret in the archives of her late father's work—one that will propel her back to war-torn Libya, where she will risk everything to piece together the mystery surrounding her parents' marriage and the part of their life together that she never knew.

"Every novel from this acclaimed and beloved author is avidly read…and will prove irresistible."—Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After her famed photographer father's death, American photojournalist Serena Stone returns to New York to write her father's biography. Alas, she must soon head to Europe to rescue a former lover, but as she nurses him back to health at the family home in France, she discovers a secret in her father's photographic archive that changes the course of her life. Bradford is here turning out her 28th book; since the first 27 were international best sellers, you know how this latest will go.
Kirkus Reviews
Clichéd and overlong novel about war photographers coping with PTSD, love affairs and family secrets. Bradford's protagonist, 30-year-old Serena, is a combat photographer who has left the front lines to pen a biography of her late father, Tommy, founder of a photojournalism empire and a former war correspondent himself. When another photojournalist, ex-boyfriend Zac, is brought from Afghanistan to Venice by a mutual friend, Serena, summoned to his side to help him decompress, finds herself falling for him all over again. The scene shifts to Nice, where Serena reconnects with her older twin sisters, Cara and Jessica, at a villa inherited from their late mother, a movie star of Elizabeth Taylor stature. Over many, many glasses of pink Veuve Clicquot and cups of tea, repetitious conversations belabor mostly peripheral and insignificant details--about Cara's and Jessica's unadventurous love lives, an upcoming anniversary celebrating their departed parents and Zac's continuing recovery from a trauma that was never rendered convincingly in the first place. It isn't until two-thirds in that a potentially riveting "secret from the past" emerges: While combing through her father's archives, Serena finds a cache of photographs revealing that Tommy may have dallied briefly with another war photographer, Valentina. There are photos of a very pregnant Val, with a disturbing caption suggesting that Serena may not be a movie star's daughter after all. Serena can get no confirmation of her origins from her sisters or her father's closest friends. But Zac distracts her from this dilemma with another. Although he promised to give up war-zone reporting forever, he wants to go to Libya to cover the rebellion against Gadhafi. And he insists on taking Serena, now his fiancee, with him. Serena has an ulterior motive for agreeing: Val is now in Libya. But that's not the most distressing information she's withholding from Zac. However, the prodigious amount of front-loaded exposition may discourage readers long before the excitement starts. A gripping novella embedded in a thick tome of largely irrelevant window dressing.
From the Publisher

“Every novel from this acclaimed and beloved author is avidly read, and its engrossing historical dimensions, family traumas, romance, and vivid settings will prove irresistible.” —Booklist on LETTER FROM A STRANGER

“Loyal fans will tear up at the descriptions of enduring friendship and familial love.” —Publishers Weekly on LETTER FROM A STRANGER

“Vintage Bradford, with lavish descriptions of the pleasures of palate and palette, victims as virtuous as they are gorgeous, [and] cruel Lotharios.” —Kirkus Reviews on PLAYING THE GAME

“Scintillating…plenty of intrigue, secrets, and steamy encounters.” —Booklist on PLAYING THE GAME

“A page-turning plot that keeps you gripped through all of its 448 pages.” —Sunday Express on PLAYING THE GAME

“Satisfies on the fashion-and-passion front… at the heart of the action stands a determined heroine” —Publishers Weekly on BREAKING THE RULES

“A sprawling novel…readers will be happy to dwell in the glamorous world of Bradford's sophisticated characters.” —Booklist on BREAKING THE RULES

“Spellbinding.” —Complete Woman on BREAKING THE RULES

“For the thirtieth anniversary of A Woman of Substance, Bradford has written a marvelous spin-off with all the drama, glamour, and romance readers expect. With a twenty-first-century woman of substance and characters from the Harte series, this nonstop read has it all.” —RT Book Reviews on BREAKING THE RULES

“Her most exciting series yet...It's filled with romance, suspense and intrigue, and the richly detailed characters come vibrantly alive as expert pacing captures your attention from the very first page.” —RomanticTimes BOOKreviews, Top Pick, on the Ravenscar series

“Rife with dastardly internecine struggles, smoldering illicit passion, and cowardly insidious betrayals…[the Deravenels] pack as much intrigue as any Shakespearean royal drama.” —Booklist on Being Elizabeth

“The queen of the bestseller list still rules with The Heir.” —Miami Herald

“Bestseller Bradford's dynastic epic spanning the 20th century should tide over her fans…” —Publishers Weekly

“Bradford's characters are so real, readers clamor to know them better.” —USA Today on the Ravenscar series

“This expertly crafted epic novel further explores the triumphs and tragedies of the Deravenel family. It will enthrall readers with its vivid characters and fast-paced, larger-than-life plot.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews (4 ½ stars) on The Heir

The Ravenscar Dynasty has it all--power, betrayal, mystery...The characters are all complex, dynamic, and powerful, leading us through Edward Deravenel's struggles one exciting step at a time.” —Romance Reviews Today

“Bradford's fiction has long focused on strong heroines who succeed against great odds. Her latest novel, The Ravenscar Dynasty...is the first of a planned trilogy of novels, all destined for best-sellerdom.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“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.” —The Washington Post

“A truly remarkable conclusion to her beloved Harte family saga…riveting and intense. Not many novels have the ability to completely immerse the reader, but this one draws you into the story from the very first page.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Just Rewards

“Bradford gives her readers more of what she does best--strong, 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.” —Miami New Times

“The exploits and adventures of Bradford's indomitable heroines continue to make for lusty escapist fiction in this robust fifth novel in the series.” —Publishers Weekly on Unexpected Blessings

“The enduring theme of family loyalty ennobles the Harte family saga and raises it to a heartwarming crescendo that longtime fans will appreciate.” —Book Page

“Readers who loved A Woman of Substance will enjoy Emma's Secret.” —Denver Post

“In her 19th novel, the grande dame of mass-market fiction revisits her first heroine--the indomitable Emma Harte.” —New York Daily News on Emma's Secret

“So many of us turn to novels like Barbara Taylor Bradford's…for our daily dose of amour.” —Woman's Day Magazine on the Harte Saga

“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.” —Roanoke Times on the Harte Saga

“A novel for everyone…A satisfying, lushly detailed saga.” —Rave Reviews on To Be the Best

“A master storyteller and character builder, Ms. Bradford again crafts another reader-holder novel…Act of Will is another winner.” —The Pittsburgh Press

“The men and woman are all gorgeous, rich, well-dressed.There are luxurious descriptions in this perfect page-turner.” —Philadelphia Inquirer on Hold the Dream

“A vibrantly characterized leading lady and a glimpse at the dazzling world of the rich and powerful.” —Working Woman on the Harte Saga

Voice of the Heart is the sort of book I cannot resist, indeed I pray to find.” —The Washington Times Magazine

“Meant to be read in a peignoir on a chase lounge whist nibbling scented chocolates.” —Cosmopolitan

“A rich tapestry of love and romance.” —San Diego Union on the Harte Saga

“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.” —Los Angeles Times

“An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death, and passion.” —The New York Times on A Woman of Substance

A Woman of Substance [is] a long, satisfying novel of money, power, passion and revenge, set against the sweep of 20th century history.” —Los Angeles Times

“Wonderfully entertaining.” —Denver Post on A Woman of Substance

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt




It was a beautiful day. The sky was a huge arc of delphinium blue, cloudless, and shimmering with bright sunlight above the soaring skyline of Manhattan. The city where I have lived, off and on, for most of my life was looking its best on this cold Saturday morning.

As I walked up Sutton Place, returning to my apartment, I began to shiver. Gusts of strong wind were blowing off the East River, and I was glad I was wearing jeans instead of a skirt, and warm clothes. Still shivering, I turned up the collar of my navy blue pea jacket and wrapped my cashmere scarf tighter around my neck.

It was unusually chilly for March. On the other hand, I was enjoying my walk after being holed up for four days endeavoring to finish a difficult chapter.

Although I am a photojournalist and photographer by profession, I recently decided to write a book, my first. Having hit a difficult part earlier this week, I’d been worrying it to death for days, like a dog with a bone. Finally I got it right last night. It felt good to get out, to stretch my legs, to look around me and to remind myself that there was a big wide world out here.

I increased my pace. Despite the sun, the wind was bitter. The weather seemed to be growing icier by the minute, and I hurried faster, almost running, needing to get home to the warmth.

My apartment was on the corner of Sutton and East Fifty-seventh, and I was relieved when it came into view. Once the traffic light changed, I dashed across the street and into my building, exclaiming to the doorman, as I sped past him, “It’s Arctic weather, Sam.”

“It is, Miss Stone. You’re better off staying inside today.”

I nodded, smiled, headed for the elevator. Once inside my apartment I hung up my scarf and pea jacket in the hall cupboard, went into the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea, and headed for my office.

I glanced at the answering machine on my desk and saw that I had two messages. I sat down, pressed play, and listened.

The first was from my older sister, Cara, who was calling from Nice. “Hi, Serena, it’s me. I’ve found another box of photographs, mostly of Mom. Looking fab. You might want to use a few in the book. Shall I send by FedEx? Or what? I’m heading out now, so leave a message. Or call me tomorrow. Big kiss.”

The second message was from my godfather. “It’s Harry. Just confirming Monday night, honey. Seven-thirty. Usual place. Don’t bother to call back. See ya.”

The whistling kettle brought me to my feet and I went back to the kitchen. As I made the tea I felt a frisson of apprehension, then an odd sense of foreboding … something bad was going to happen … I felt it in my bones.

I pushed this dark feeling away, carried the mug of tea back to my office, telling myself that I usually experienced premonitions only when I was at the front, when I sensed imminent danger, knew I had to run for my life before I was blown to smithereens by a bomb, or took a bullet. To have such feelings now was irrational. I shook my head, chiding myself for being overly imaginative. But in fact I was to remember this moment later and wonder if I had some sort of sixth sense.


Copyright © 2013 by Beaji Enterprises, Inc.

Meet the Author

BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD was born and brought up in England, where she started her writing career as a journalist. She has written twenty-seven international bestsellers. Secrets from the Past is her twenty-eighth novel. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE for her literary achievements. She lives in New York with her husband, TV and film producer Robert Bradford.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Place of Birth:
Yorkshire, England
Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls in Yorkshire, England

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Secrets from the Past 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
So – I should admit right here and now that Barbara Taylor Bradford was my gateway author to the romance genre.  A favorite of my grandmother and great aunt, I would grab her books from their bedside tables and sneak off to read: devouring each book as soon as it appeared.  To have the opportunity to read one of her books for review was a major source of excitement.  And, Secrets from the Past did not disappoint in the least.   Focusing on Serena, a recently retired from the front war photographer, we are slowly introduced into her life, as she reflects on her past while compiling her father’s photos into a memoir composite.  Recovering from her father’s death, the end of her first serious relationship, and at a bit of loose ends, she is the main point of view to guide us through her story.  One peppered with loving family memories, travel, antiquated clichés from her grandmother, and continuous ‘watching over’ by her father’s best friend and boss, Harry.   Add to this, other story lines that involve Serena’s twin sisters, a co-worker, the maintenance for the house the three inherited from their parents in Nice, the Arab Spring uprisings, and a series of photographs that provide only questions with few answers, the different threads all weave a beautiful pattern of a life of a woman well loved and cared for by family and co-workers alike.  The pages flew by, highlighted by descriptions of Venice, Nice, New York and Libya the sense of the worldliness of characters and the story was heightened and the descriptions helped to place visual references for the characters and scenes, making them more familiar.  The addition of information about PTSD and the oddly chaotic behavior patterns gives readers a solid sense of the difficulties experienced by those who suffer, and the glimpses into a photojournalists life felt like an introductory course in “can you manage this?”.    The multiple story lines weave together to provide the reader with visual and tactile references and an emotional understanding of the story that enriches in a way that just reading words would never do without the author’s skilled writing.  Emotionally complex characters, with defined personalities and solid voices all present fact and display relationship dynamics that are easy to relate to real lives. Mingled with a touch of romance and sensually detailed intimate scenes that are a feast for the imagination, the connections romantic and familial are solid, defined and palpable.  Solid writing, great characters, compelling action, glamor and secrets all combine to make this book a very good read – one that many can and will enjoy.  I received a Galley Copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review for the Jeep Diva. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
jac38 More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed with this book. I picked it up because I remember reading A Woman of Substance years ago. This book doesn't even compare to it. As I was reading it, I felt like it was not written by the same author. The story isn't bad, it's just not great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Barbara Taylor Bradford's books and this one is no exception. She knows how to make her characters real and their stories believable. There is nothing better than spending an afternoon with Barbara Taylor Bradford! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only word to describe this book is "Stupid"! I am halfway through this book and am still looking for a storyline or plot. I may not bother to finish the book. There are too many others to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Joanne Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Once again Barbara Taylor Bradford writes a contemporary novel with strong women at its core and their men beside them to be there to support them, love them and be there when needed. Secrets From the Past did not disappoint – my interest was captivated from the first page to the last. There was closure through the epilogue but there seemed to be much more story to tell although all the loose ends were tied up neatly and I would love to meet up with Jessica, Cara and Serena again but don’t think we will. This book had wonderful characters with many layers to each of them as well as many different facets to their relationships based on who was interacting with who. But through it all the love the three Stone sisters had for each other, their deceased parents, Harry, and the men they loved shined through. The scenery was vivid and descriptive whether in Nice, Venice, Tripoli or other locations so much so that I could picture the places in my mind’s eye. There was romance, love, sorrow, heartache, secrets, war, family, friends, loved ones, good food, some laughter and tears throughout. Bradford has been one of my favorite authors since I read A Woman of Substance back in 1980. Since then I have always looked forward to the release of her next book. If you haven’t read her books before add her to your TBR pile. You’ll be glad you did! Favorite Quote: …I thought: Secrets. All families must have secrets. It can’t just be ours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
iowashort More than 1 year ago
I must admit, I found myself struggling with this even though I like Bradford's books. I thought it was slow to get started and did not finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy Bradford, but this wasn't my favorite. Her earlier novels had more plot, and the characters were much more interesting. I'd rather re-read A Woman of Substance than this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rosie0 More than 1 year ago
Really like the author and enjoyed the book very much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I had read this book without knowing who the author was, I would have never, ever guessed it was by Barbara Taylor Bradford. It seemed very amateurish, with all the "she said", "he said" and  " I said" sentences. It was disjointed and without depth. I have always loved her books, so this one was a huge disappointment.
LynDenise More than 1 year ago
Just one more fantastic book by Barbara Taylor Bradford! Another one that was very hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago