To Be the Best (Emma Harte Series #3)

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New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford has captivated millions of readers with her sweeping saga of power, wealth, and family secrets. Now the legacy of matriarch Emma Harte lives in one woman’s inspiring challenge to be the best…

Paula McGill O’Neill learned the lessons of success from the master—merchant princess Emma Harte, her grandmother, her teacher, her idol. Left to Paula, the legacy of Emma’s ...

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New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford has captivated millions of readers with her sweeping saga of power, wealth, and family secrets. Now the legacy of matriarch Emma Harte lives in one woman’s inspiring challenge to be the best…

Paula McGill O’Neill learned the lessons of success from the master—merchant princess Emma Harte, her grandmother, her teacher, her idol. Left to Paula, the legacy of Emma’s international empire still thrives as the strong-willed heiress wields control with hard-earned compassion—and well-earned suspicion of every secret threat.

Blessed grandchild, super-wife, and loving mother, Paula has one desire—to keep her grandmother’s visionary dream alive, and through sacrifice and ambition carve out an empire of her own. But every move has been shadowed by two families whose fortunes are intertwined with hers—and by an unscrupulous blood enemy moving in for the kill…

Once banished from the family fold, Paula’s cousin Jonathan has emerged from the darkness to wrest control of everything he wants—and destroy all that Paula has fought for. Now, sweeping across the world, and testing her most intimate fears and emotions, Paula’s struggle to safeguard her happiness and her family’s future becomes her ultimate challenge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A compulsive read.” --The Daily Mail (London)

“Will keep you up till all hours reading just one more chapter before you can bear to turn out the bedside light.” --Prima Magazine

Joyce Cohen
It's easy to laugh at a book in which the heroine's husband says to her, ''You look beautiful,'' and then adds, ''So stop titivating yourself.'' But don't worry. Reading ''To Be the Best'' does not require that you keep a dictionary close at hand.... The weak plot sends us around the world, fromYorkshire to Hong Kong to Sydney, providing a handy excuse for place-name dropping. In the end, good triumphs over evil....''To Be the Best'' is so earnest and so sweet that it's almost possible to forgive this kind of silliness. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bradford's trilogy on ``merchant prince'' Emma Harte and her many heirs began with the runaway bestsellers A Woman of Substance and Hold the Dream. This final book picks up the story a decade after Emma's death, when the third generation has the thriving businesses she started well in hand. Heading up the family is Paula McGill O'Neill, who runs the luxurious department stores that anchor the Harte empire. Super-wife and mother Paula brings a whirlwind of energy to that exacting job; as a result of her near-perfect efficiency, the first half of the book seems rather saccharine. But Jonathan Ainsley, an unscrupulous cousin she had banished from the fold, is waiting to move in for the kill when Paula indulges her desire to carve out a fiefdom of her own, risking everything by overextending her resources. Although this lengthy battle for supremacy is the focal point, a host of dramatic subplots continues the amorous, sorrowful and shady doings of the O'Neills and the Kallinskis, two families whose fortunes are entwined with the Hartes. Despite constant jet-setting between glamorous watering places, these wealthy lifestyles are beginning to be awfully repetitious. Fans will welcome this new installment, but it's impossible not to agree with many of the characters who sigh about the drive and vigor lost along with that elegant pirate Emma Harte. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club dual main selections. (July)
Library Journal
With this third volume of the cycle begun in 1979 with A Woman of Substance , Bradford continues the saga of Emma Harte, her descendants, and the far-flung business empire she founded. Now, some 11 years after Harte's death, the story revolves around Paula Amory O'Neill, Emma's granddaughter and principal heir, and the ups and downs faced by her family and friends. Readers will happily re-acquaint themselves with the sprawling Harte clan and their friends and associates, the O'Neills, and Kallinskis. A more than satisfactory sequel to the previous segments of this generational tale, with an ending that promises still more to come. Literary Guild Main Selection.Judith A. Gifford, Salve Regina Coll. Lib., Newport, R.I.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312935610
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2005
  • Series: Emma Harte Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 3.98 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD was born in Leeds, and by the age of twenty was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. Her first novel, A Woman of Substance, became an enduring bestseller and was followed by nineteen others, most recently Unexpected Blessings. Her books have sold more than seventy-five million copies worldwide in more than ninety countries and forty languages, and ten mini-series and television movies have been made of her books. She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford. Please visit


Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. A voracious reader since childhood, she took her first job at the age of 15 with the Yorkshire Evening Post and by the age of 18 was the newspaper's women's page editor. Two years later, she headed for London and became a reporter for the London Evening News, Today Magazine, and other publications.

After meeting her husband-to-be, Robert Bradford, in 1961, she relocated to the United States. Continuing in journalism, Barbara created the syndicated column "Designing Woman," which ran nationwide for 12 years. Children's books and 8 works on decorating followed.

In 1979, Bradford published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, introducing the Emma Harte saga and beginning an almost uninterrupted string of bestsellers. Her work has been published in more than 90 countries in 40 languages, and total sales of her books now surpass 75 million.

Barbara now lives and writes in New York City with her husband, Robert. In addition to her work as a writer, she is active in a number of major charitable organizations, including the Police Athletic League, Girls Inc., City-Meals-on-Wheels, and the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation.

Good To Know

Queen Elizabeth bestowed the Order of the British Empire on Barbara in October, 2007. The news was announced on the author's website with the following headline: "BTB Gets Her OBE from QEII."

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Bradford:

"All 20 of my original manuscripts are stored by the prestigious Brotherton Library at Leeds University in England, next to the works of the Brontë sisters."

"My first job was working as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post at the age of 15."

"When I'm not writing, (which isn't often) I love to read. Biographies are my favorite genre, though I do like to read fiction to see what others are putting out on the market. Authors whose books I always make time for are Patricia Cornwell, Mary Higgins Clark, and Bernard Cornwell."

"I love to travel whenever possible. Paris is my favorite city to visit, though some of my favorite holidays are spent back in England."

"My husband, Bob, has a vote for the Academy Awards, so I get to see a lot of movie screenings."

"I'm involved in a number of charity organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. From the Police Athletic League and the Literary Guild in America to PACT (Parents and Children Together Again) in the U.K., I devote a fair amount of time to these causes. And as an advocate for world literacy, I am a member of the Madison Council to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls in Yorkshire, England
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Paula walked into her private office at the London store with her usual briskness, and after removing several folders from her briefcase, she sat down at the antique partners' desk in the comer. It was precisely at this moment that she noticed the buff-colored envelope propped against the antique porcelain lamp.

Marked PERSONAL, it had apparently been hand-delivered, and she recognized the writing at once. She felt a small shiver of pleasure. Eagerly, she reached for the envelope, slit it open with the gold-and-jade paper knife, and took out the folded piece of paper.

The note was boldly penned.

Meet me in Paris. Tonight, it said. You're booked on Flight 902. British Airways. 6 p.m. I'll be waiting impatiently. Usual place. Don't disappoint me.

Paula frowned. The tone was peremptory, commanding, and implicit in his words was the assumption she would go. Mild irritation at his high-handedness flared and diluted the flush of pleasure she had experienced a second before. Of course she wouldn't go. She couldn't. She must spend the weekend with her children as planned, wanted to spend it with them, in fact.

Still clutching the note, she leaned back in the chair and gazed into space, thinking about him. Bossy ... conceited ... those were the adjectives which sprang into her head.

They were certainly appropriate. A trace of a smile surfaced, flickered on her mouth. She was suddenly amused by the invitation and sorely tempted to accept. Admit it, you'd love to spend the weekend in Paris with him. But then you'd love to do a lot of things you constantly pass up, a small voice at the back of her head reminded her. And shesmiled again, -though this time with wryness, a hint of regret even, knowing that she could never be indulgent with herself. Perish the thought! Duty had to come first. That little rule of Emma Harte's had been inculcated in her since childhood, although sometimes she wished her grandmother had not been so thorough. But Grandy had schooled her well, had taught her that wealth and privilege also meant responsibilities, and that they had to be shouldered without flinching, no matter what the cost to oneself. And since she was now thirty-six, almost thirty-seven, her character was hardly likely to change at this stage in her life.

Paula sat up, slipped the note back into its envelope, sighing under her breath as she did. A romantic interlude in her favorite city with that very special and exceptional man was infinitely appealing but decidedly not possible. No, she would not go to Paris for a weekend of love and intimacy and pleasure. Instead, she would go to her children and be a good mother. Her children needed her. After all, she had not seen them for two weeks. On the other hand, she had not seen him either ...

"Damn and blast," she muttered out loud, wishing he had not sent the note. It had thrown her off balance, made her feel unexpectedly restless, and at a moment in time when she could not afford to have distractions of any kind. The months ahead were going to be extremely complicated, and they would be crucial months.

And so she would phone him later, tell him she was not coming; she must also cancel the airline reservation he had made for her. On second thought, perhaps she ought to call British Airways immediately.

As she reached for the telephone it began to ring.

She picked up swiftly, said, "Hello?" and glanced at the door as her assistant, Jill, hurried in with a cup of coffee.

"Hello, Paula, it's me," her cousin Alexander was saying at the other end of the phone. "I came into the Leeds store looking for you, only to find that on the one day I'm up here, you're in London."

"Oh Sandy darling, I am sorry to have missed you," she exclaimed, then covered the mouthpiece, murmured her thanks to Jill, who placed the coffee in front of her, smiled, and disappeared.

Paula went on, "Were you in Yorkshire last night?"

"Yes. I got in around six-thirty."

"I was still at the store, Sandy. You should've called me. We could've had dinner."

"No, we couldn't. You see, I had to get out to Nutton Priory as early as possible. My estate manager's going off on holiday today and we had a lot to go over." Alexander paused, cleared his throat. "You were at Grandy's grave this morning ... those are your flowers, aren't they, Paula?"

"Yes," she said, her voice growing softer. "I went there very early, before driving to London."

"I was close on your heels." He laughed faintly. "I suppose we just weren't meant to meet up today. Well ... my loss."

Paula loved her cousin dearly and thus was sensitive to his moods. She had caught something odd in his voice, a nuance that disturbed her. "Sandy, do you have some sort of problem?" she asked quickly. "Do you want to talk to me about anything?"

There was only the slightest hesitation before he exclaimed with a certain firmness, "No, no, not at all! I merely thought it would be nice for us to lunch together, I haven't seen you for weeks. I realize you've been busy ... however, I do miss our tete-a-tetes, old thing."

Paula had been listening attentively, straining to catch that peculiar inflection she had noticed a moment ago, but now it was absent. His voice sounded perfectly normalwell-modulated and controlled, as it always was.

She said, "Yes, I miss them too, Sandy, and it has been a bit hectic for me this summer, what with all the flying to the south of France and back, and staying ahead of the game with the business. And look here, whilst I have you on the

To Be the Best. Copyright © by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Another Great Read!!!

    Barbara Taylor Bradford has once again written a great novel about Emma Harte's family. Paula O'Neill and her cousins are running the vast Harte empire. This book goes into more detail about the grandchildren's lives and brings back their arch rival Jonathan Ainsley. He tries to wreck the family business, but will he succeed. This is a must read for any Emma Harte fan or anyone who wants to read an excellent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    Read the whole series..feel as if you are part of the Harte family

    love the harte saga

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

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