Unexpected Blessings (Emma Harte Series #5)

Unexpected Blessings (Emma Harte Series #5)

3.6 30
by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Barbara Taylor Bradford

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The new blockbuster from one of the world's greatest storytellers delves into the life of Emma Harte—the original Woman of Substance—and the ambitious, passionate, and volatile women of the next generations.

Evan Hughes, Emma's American great-granddaughter, is trying to integrate into the powerful Harte family. She is caught

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The new blockbuster from one of the world's greatest storytellers delves into the life of Emma Harte—the original Woman of Substance—and the ambitious, passionate, and volatile women of the next generations.

Evan Hughes, Emma's American great-granddaughter, is trying to integrate into the powerful Harte family. She is caught between her estranged parents, her new family, and new love. But a dangerous enemy hovers in the background.

Tessa Longden, Evan's cousin, is battling her husband for custody of their daughter, Adele. When Adele suddenly goes missing, Tessa is forced to seek help from her half-sister Linnet—a woman who has been her rival all their lives.

Linnet, the most brilliant businesswoman of the four great-granddaughters, is desperately trying to show that she is the natural heir to her mother, Paula. But her glittering future at the helm of the vast Harte empire means many sacrifices, perhaps even the loss of her sister’s fragile trust.

India Standish, the traditionalist in the family, falls in love with a famous British artist from a working-class background. Madly in love, India is determined to marry him, no matter what her family thinks.

Evan, Tessa, Linnet, and India: four extraordinary women. Three generations of Hartes. One indomitable family whose loyalty binds them together and whose enemies want to tear them apart.

“Well-written and full of emotion…completely riveting.”

Miami New Times

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Editorial Reviews

Miami New Times
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.
Book Page
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.
RT Book Reviews
Bradford enthralls readers.... Once again, readers will get swept up in the lives and loves of the Harte family.
Library Journal
What's left after Bradford tells Emma's Secret? We'll see. With an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Hartes again. And their numbers are legion-in fact, no fewer than 53 names are featured in the genealogy upfront, not including Evan Hughes, heroine of Emma's Secret (2003) and an American twig of the Harte family tree. Now dwelling in London, lovely Evan lives and breathes retail, just like long-dead Emma Harte, the plucky shopgirl who started it all. Now that Evan has her dream job as an assistant to Linnet O'Neill, Emma's great-granddaughter, she's planning a future with her true love, Gideon Harte, Linnet's cousin and a newspaperman. Linnet, though, has other things to worry about after she fields a frantic phone call from her half-sister Tessa-Adele, Tessa's precious little girl, has disappeared! Has Mark Longden, Tessa's estranged husband, kidnapped the child? The cad. Is he after (gasp!) the Harte money? Billions are at stake, and, yes, Adele may be in danger as well. When the clan gathers to discuss the matter, one quiet voice of dissent is raised: Evan wonders whether Adele was in fact taken by a pedophile. Jack Figg, ace investigator, wonders ditto. Carefully modulated anguish sets the tone: Tessa presses a hand to her mouth. Mummy will have to be told before American TV broadcasts the news worldwide! Perhaps it's just as well that Mummy, otherwise known as Paula O'Neill, director of Harte's department store in Knightsbridge, is in New York, musing on the cityscape and recapping the legacy of Emma Harte for the umpteenth time, not to mention the family's power, immense wealth, and ineffable sense of privilege. Yet not even all those wonderful things can stop history: it seems terrorists have flown planes into the World Trade Center. Newspaperman Gideon sees it on CNN and issuitably aghast. But back to the plot: Evan's dear ones are about to find out that everything is not what it seems, and the revelation of still more family secrets is looming. And-good heavens!-what about Adele?For the fans, their numbers also legion. Doubleday Book Club/Literary Guild main selection; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection; author tour

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Emma Harte Series, #5
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.67(h) x 1.14(d)

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Unexpected Blessings

By Barbara Taylor Bradford

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2005 Beaji Enterprises
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0183-3


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 the world.

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.

"She was beautiful and glamorous, and the most sexually potent woman I've ever known, but I realized we would be disastrous together in the long run. We would've ended up killing each other," Robin finished with a small sigh. He sat back in the wing chair, his eyes on Evan.

She was silent for a moment, digesting his words, and then she said slowly, "Because you were so volatile together, is that what you mean?"

"Exactly. We never had a peaceful moment."

"You weren't compatible?"

"Not in any way, except in bed. But one cannot build a lasting, lifetime relationship on sex alone."

Evan nodded and eyed him carefully, then confided, "Gran was always pounding it into me that compatibility between a man and a woman was the most important thing of all. And I know that she was compatible with my grandfather, I mean Richard Hughes."

"Please don't correct yourself, Evan," Robin said in a quiet voice, shaking his head. "Richard Hughes was your grandfather, just as he was your father's father. Glynnis was a wonderful young woman when I knew her. But put very simply, she wasn't suitable for me, nor I for her, not on a normal, everyday level. We were far too explosive, and it was my fault as much as hers."

"Is that why you finally broke up with her?"

"It is. At that time our quarrels were increasing, and alarmingly so. Life with her was hell."

"But she was pregnant, Robin, and you did nothing. ..." Evan's voice trailed off as she realized she might have sounded accusatory. She had not meant to place blame.

"We've already discussed this," Robin responded patiently. "But I shall explain one more time. ... We broke up. I started seeing Valerie Ludden. She and I were compatible and became seriously involved. When Glynnis told me she was expecting my child, I had already made a commitment to Valerie. However, let me say this, so you truly understand. I would not have married your grandmother even if there had been no other woman in my life. We could not have led a worthwhile life, and she knew that, too."

"I'm sorry, Robin, I am being a bit of a pest, aren't I?"

"That's all right," he responded, a faint shadow touching his mouth. "I understand your need to know everything."

"I wonder why Glynnis wouldn't allow you to help her financially."

"Pride, for the most part, so I believe."

"She let Emma Harte come to her rescue, though."

"She did. My mother loved Glynnis like a daughter, and Glynnis knew this, and she knew how much my mother sympathized with her. When my mother was a girl, she had been in a similar predicament, pregnant by a man who wouldn't marry her, and obviously there was a great deal of empathy there."

"Thanks for talking about this, Robin. I really needed to know exactly what went on between you and my grandmother all those years ago."

"Passion. I was also in love with her; it just wasn't enough for a steady, stable life." He smiled at her then, his face softening with tenderness, his faded blue eyes benign, loving.

Evan smiled back at him, reached out and took hold of his long, slender hand, squeezed it in hers. The two of them were seated on the large sofa in the library at Lackland Priory, Robin's house in Yorkshire, meeting for the first time in several weeks, and they were glad to be together again, to have this chance to get to know each other better.

The old man and the young woman. Related by blood but total strangers until recently. The grandfather. The granddaughter. Two people who had only just discovered each other's existence, and wanted to be friends, to understand each other, to find closeness, even the intimacy of family, if that was possible. The younger striving to comprehend a disastrous long-ago relationship, the elder hoping that his past actions would not damage him too badly in her eyes in the present.

The silence was broken by the ringing of the telephone, startling them both. Almost instantly it stopped; the phone had been answered elsewhere in the house by a staff member.

A moment later the butler appeared in the doorway. "Excuse me, sir, Doctor Harvey's on the phone. He would like a word with you."

"Thank you, Bolton," Robin answered, and excusing himself to Evan, he rose, striding over to the desk. Sitting down, he picked up the receiver. "Good morning, James."

Evan also rose and walked across to the French doors which opened onto the terrace of the ancient manor house. She stepped outside, closing the doors behind her, and took several deep breaths. The air was always clean and fresh up here in the Dales; it was a glorious morning in early August, the sky azure blue and without a cloud. A sunny, golden day filled with pristine light, just as it had been yesterday and the day before. She had grown to love this crystalline light, which she had discovered was so prevalent in the north of England.

Now she sat down on the stone bench and stared across the wide, green lawns that splayed out from the house and were bordered by flower beds filled with colorful perennials. Her eyes came to rest on the copse of trees which stood slightly away from the house to the right of the lawns. Beyond their opulent, leafy bowers she could see the rim of the moors, a dark smudge against the pale, blue-tinted horizon.

It was such a beautiful spot, this long valley in the middle of the Dales where Lackland Priory had stood for centuries. Pennistone Royal, Paula's house, was not far away, and in the past few months Evan had spent a lot of time in this area of Yorkshire, which was softer and much more lush than the surrounding, higher land.

Up there, on the moors, it was bleak for most of the year, neither pretty nor welcoming. She knew Linnet would not agree; she thought the soaring fells were glorious in their stark and solitary splendor. "I love those moors the same way Emma Harte loved them," Linnet had once explained to her. "My great-grandmother was a child of the moors, and she could never stay away from them for very long. I yearn for them, just as she did."

Emma Harte.

Evan turned the name over in her mind. Dead though she had been for thirty years, Emma still lived on, her spirit and presence almost as potent as when she was alive. Emma Harte was her great-grandmother, too, although she had not known this when she came to England in January. How her life had changed since then. She was a Harte. And had been accepted by this unique family, made to feel one of them.

Almost immediately her thoughts swung to Robin Ainsley, favorite son of the legendary Emma. Her father's biological father, her biological grandfather. A man she had met only a few weeks ago but whom she had quickly grown to like and knew she could easily come to love. There was something endearing about Robin, even vulnerable, and she wanted to nurture and protect him. At eighty he seemed so alone.

Robin Ainsley had abandoned her grandmother, but he had had his reasons, and it was over half a century ago now. And if she were honest with herself, she had to admit that her grandmother had probably had a much better and certainly a more tranquil life without Robin. After all, they had been forever at each other's throats, according to him. And Gran had a loving husband in Richard Hughes, who had married her some months before her baby, Owen, was born. Richard had brought up Owen as his son. He had been a good father; no man had ever had a better one, her father said that all the time.

Her father's face insinuated itself into her mind's eye, and she felt herself tensing. Yet again she wondered how to tell him what she had so recently found out. Owen had idolized Richard Hughes ...

"I'm so sorry to have left you alone," Robin murmured from the doorway, interrupting her thoughts. "I'm afraid Doctor Harvey can go on a bit at times."

Evan jumped up and swung to face him. "You are all right, aren't you? You're not ill?" she asked. Her voice echoed with sudden concern, and her eyes were anxious.

"I'm perfectly fine, my dear. In very good health, I do assure you. Doctor Harvey was merely ringing up to confirm our dinner engagement tomorrow evening." As he finished speaking, Robin stepped onto the terrace. "Let's stay out here for a while, enjoy Mother Nature. It's such a grand morning."

"Yes, it is," Evan agreed.

They sat down on the bench, and Robin went on, after a moment, "You said earlier that you needed to talk to me about several things, but so far we've only discussed my relationship with your grandmother. What else do you have on your mind?"

"My father."

"Ah yes, Owen. Does he know anything about ... Emma's well-kept secret?"


"Did you lose your nerve, Evan? Surely not. Not you."

"No, not really. But I did decide it might be better to wait until he arrives in London later this month."

"Don't you think you ought to give him an inkling about what's happened before he comes? About me, I mean? It would prepare him for what will no doubt be a bit of a shock."

"It did cross my mind," Evan responded, biting her lip. "But then I decided it would be smarter to tell him face-to-face."

Robin frowned, his light-colored eyes fixed on the distant horizon. After a moment, he began to speak slowly, thoughtfully. "He's not going to like what he hears. After all, some of his illusions are going to be shattered. He'll certainly be angry with me about the past."

"And maybe he'll also be angry with his mother for not being truthful," Evan suggested succinctly. "Gran lied to him."

"Oh, I don't know about that, my dear. Glynnis did the right thing. Richard was married to Glynnis for some months before Owen's birth, and whilst he may not have made her pregnant, he loved that child as his own. Richard's behavior was impeccable, and I think Glynnis did what she thought was best."

"That's true, but ..."

"But what?"

"My father's not easy, Robin."

A look of sudden comprehension swept across his face and he exclaimed, "I remember something, Evan. When Paula brought you here for the first time, you told us you thought your father had come across some papers after Glynnis died."

"I did. But he never actually said he found anything. It was just a feeling I had, that sprang from his sudden, rather odd attitude toward the Harte family."

"Oh. What kind of attitude?" Robin asked. "He became a bit ... well, down on them. I guess that's the best way of describing it. He wasn't happy about my job at Harte's, and that was mystifying to me because he had agreed I should visit London to seek out Emma Harte ... just as Gran had suggested on her deathbed."

Robin ventured, "I think he stumbled on a diary, or letters, or other items from long ago, which Glynnis had perhaps forgotten about."

"That could be so," she agreed. "And what he found might have turned him off the Hartes. Is that what you're suggesting?"


Excerpted from Unexpected Blessings by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Copyright © 2005 Beaji Enterprises. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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