by Barbara Taylor Bradford

January 2005
ISBN: 0-312-30704-7
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press

Taking up where Emma’s Secret ends, Barbara Taylor Bradford continues her Harte Family series with Unexpected Blessings. This time, the story centers on three great-granddaughters of the legendary Emma Harte.

Evan Hughes is the newest addition to the sprawling, successful family, although she is not an infant. She learned that Emma’s son, Robin Ainsley, is her real grandfather when she began working for Harte Department stores. A vacation in England has turned into a life-altering experience for the young American. She has found an entirely new family, and with it, the man she loves, Gideon Harte.

Tessa Fairley Longden is emerging from a hellish marriage to take up the reins of single motherhood. Her estranged husband, Mark Longden, is being quite difficult during the divorce settlement negotiations. When he becomes a threat, Tessa must decide what is truly important in her life. Will it be her ambition to lead Harte’s or will family come first?

In love with Britain’s premier artist, Lady India Standish should be on top of the world. Yet Russell “Dusty” Rhodes’ working-class background is becoming an impediment. Not for India but for Dusty, who has a poor opinion of her family ties and their successes. His attitude is nearly enough for India to break off the relationship.

As a longtime reader of Ms. Bradford, I knew that Unexpected Blessings would be well-written and full of emotion. What I did not expect was to be completely riveted by this latest installment. The plot, while always complex, has suspenseful moments to keep the pace sharp. Revisiting the extended family is always a pleasure, and since I have aged along with the characters, it seems to be more grounded in reality. Following these three young women through the trials and tribulations of their lives is simply good reading. Unexpected Blessings clearly shows why Ms. Bradford is still the premier writer of family sagas. I recommend this book very highly, and cannot wait to see what is in store for her next book.

Reviewed in December 2004 by Paula.

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