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Secrets from the Past Hardcover – April 9, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bradford (Letter from a Stranger, 2012) sets her latest novel during 2011’s Arab Spring. Serena Stone has given up her career as a war photographer and is at work on a memoir about her late father, also a famous war photographer. She reunites with her former lover Zac, another photojournalist, when he agrees to leave the front lines. But the tug of their profession proves too much, and the pair winds up covering the revolution in Libya. Serena’s sisters and their romantic intrigues waft in and out of the story, and much attention is given to the girls’ deceased mother, a famous movie star depicted as a cross between Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. Rather late in the game, Serena discovers a set of photos in her father’s files that calls her parentage into question. There is enough juicy material here for three separate novels, and in attempting to weave these strands together, Bradford leaves several characters underdeveloped and relies heavily on expositional dialogue, which gets a bit clunky. Still, her fans will be undaunted. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Big, splashy print ads; author appearances; a social-media campaign; and other publicity efforts will alert Bradford’s fan base. --Patty Wetli


“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 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 on The Harte Saga

“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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312631669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312631666
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Barbara Taylor Bradford, OBE is one of the world's best loved storytellers. Her 1979 debut novel, A Woman of Substance, ranks as one of the top-ten bestselling books of all-time, with more than 30 million copies in print. All 30 of her novels to date have been major worldwide bestsellers. Her 30th book, The Cavendon Women, was recently published in hardcover, and will be published in paperback on December 29th by St. Martin's Press.

Bradford was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire (UK) as the only child of Freda and Winston Taylor. She grew up in the Leeds suburb of Armley and after Town Street Church of England School worked in the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post before going into journalism. By the age of twenty she was the fashion editor of Woman's Own Magazine and an editor and columnist on Fleet Street for the London Evening News.

Bradford's books have sold more than eighty-eight (88) million copies worldwide in more than ninety (90) countries and forty (40) languages. Ten (10) of her books have been made into miniseries and television movies, making her one of the best-selling authors over the last 30 years.

In April of 2003, Mrs. Bradford was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America alongside Mark Twain, Langston Hughes and Dr. Seuss. She was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for her contributions to literature. Her original manuscripts are archived at the Brotherton Library at Leeds University, alongside the works of the Bronte sisters. In 2009, Barbara's publishers began a worldwide 30th anniversary celebration of A Woman of Substance. The first annual Woman of Substance Awards took place on September 10th 2009 at the Dorchester Hotel in London. She lives in New York City with her husband, of 43 years, television producer Robert Bradford.

Her official website is:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By NCwriterbabe on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The heroine was abused, the hero the abuser. She made excuses and forgave him (after all the sex was super)for his vile behaivor...sound familiar? But,really dear reader, one must understand, he was the love of her life.

I gave the book two stars becaue the writing flowed well, the plot moved along--although with out any surprises--until toward the end where one's credulity got stretched a bit thin.

By the very end, I was praying someone would insist on an intervention for the heroine.

Although I am well aware there are many such relationships, I never expected to read one with such an unsatisfactory ending in a romance novel.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Cushing-murray on May 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very disappointed in the book; very little story line and the author was very long-winded with no sense at all. I could not get into the story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have often wondered why Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee never wrote another book. Perhaps, because when one writes one of the best contemporary books ever it doesn't pay to write another book to live up to the first. But there are authors out there like Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel and Barbara Taylor Bradford who write book after book and each one is just a bit worse than the one before. And while Roberts and Steel have yet to write a truly wonderful novel but Barbara Taylor Bradford certainly did when she penned her first book, A Woman of Substance as did Belva Plain when she wrote Evergreen and Rosamunde Pilcher when she wrote The Shell Seekers. While Pilcher wrote a couple of other very good books and then retired, both Plain and Bradford continued with books about other family members from their first hits and also stand alone titles. By the time Plain died, I am sorry to say her titles had become an abysmal mess and only some loyalty issue found me reading them till the end of her days. And now that I just finished reading Bradford's latest book, Secrets from the Past, it seems to me this title's plot and characters have appeared in slightly altered forms before and I regretted wasting my time on this book.

I won't bore you with too much of the plot but will say the book revolves around the character of Selena, the daughter of a photo journalist and fabulous movie star. She has twin sisters whom she adores and is currently writing a book about her famous father while she has also covered a few wars as a war photo journalist. While writing this book and uncovering some mystifying facts she needs to flesh out, she is called to Venice to help her own lover recover from his own experience while covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iran.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By PK on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I always read book reviews by others, this is my first time at writing my comments for all to see. I was hooked on Barbara Taylor Bradford with "Woman of Substance" and the continuing stories. Loved them. Not all books of Bradford's story-wise have intrigued me, but were well written with good character development. However, this book "Secrets from the Past" left me cold. It wasn't so much the characters as the writing. It all seemed very stilted and contrived to me. When the three sisters were together the dialogue seemed very unnatural. I did finish the book; however, will take more care if buying another book by Bradford. Something was missing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JB on May 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I usually love BTB, but this one missed the mark. I felt bored and never truly engaged in the story. I read the entire book hoping it would pick up, but sadly it didn't.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Horselady on August 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I find it hard to believe a so called professional author wrote such poor sentences. I'm not one of those picky people about sentence structure, but come on....redundant, amateurish sentences that a high schooler could have written. Not even going to get into the story since it was bad too, and I'm not into flash-back stories, which this was. This author needs to take a basic course in how to write a proper, concise sentence. I won't bother reading anything else by her. She needs to hang it up already. Glad I got it from the library .

Here are a few examples of her horrible writing.
1. "She was very direct, getting right to the point just like she always had." (isn't that what direct means?)
2. Serena often answered questions by saying, "To be honest......" are you kidding???
3. She was slow, moving very gradually. ( this sentence needs no explanation)
4. A lot of use of "at that point in time" , instead of just saying "then"

There were so many bad sentences that I was tearing my hair out. I had this on audio book and a heads-up--the reader doesn't change voices like some readers do, so the male and female parts all sound the same and at times , I couldn't figure out WHO was speaking because the grammar and sentence structure was so bad. She repeated the same sentences word for word from one chapter to another when talking about how war takes its tole on a reporter. Okay, we got it the first time. I got up to CD #4 and just can't take it anymore, it's so bad. I can overlook a lot of boring things just by listening to an audio book as opposed to reading it, but I truly can't stand the poor grammar any longer. And one last complaint --some apartment in Venice is called "The Bolt Hole.
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