Mango-Chai Lassi and The Art of Inheriting Secrets

Welcome to the most recent summer stop on the TLC Book Tour. For this stopover, I am pleased to review The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O’Neal.  (I received a free copy courtesy of TLC and the author so all rants, gushings and opinions are strictly my own and were not influenced by their generosity!)

About The Art of Inheriting Secrets

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.

One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

“Settle in with tea and biscuits for a charming adventure about inheriting an English manor and the means to restore it. Vivid descriptions and characters that read like best friends will stay with you long after this delightful story has ended.” —Cynthia Ellingsen, bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

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Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

About Barbara O’Neal

Barbara Samuel (O’Neal) has won the highly prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of Americas seven times and has been recently inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She has written eleven novels of women’s fiction, about dogs and food, families and second chances. She lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.  She attempts to garden despite hail and blizzards and the thin mountain air, and loves to travel, teaching and hiking and eating lots of great food.

What I thought….

About halfway through the novel, I thought to myself, “This is a romance novel and I do not like romance novels.”   Notice I was halfway through the book when I made this discovery.   I can also share that I stayed up all night and finished this book around four o’clock in the morning.

Apparently I might need to rethink my bias.

The Art of Inheriting Secrets may include some romance but it also contains LOTS of food (which is why I originally picked up the novel).     For a complete list of the culinary offerings that O’Neal describes, see the final portion of this post.

I enjoyed O’Neal’s knack for characterizations, especially in Olivia’s case.   Our heroine finds herself amid some distressing situations in losing her mother and (partial spoiler alert) breaking off a long time romance, yet she does not appear tragic.   She finds out she is a countess and has inherited a large estate but this is no fairy tale.

Not mentioned in the above blurb are characters that will impact Olivia’s new life:

  • Samir Malakar, a hot Anglo-Indian, former novelist and current day-laborer thatcher
  • His sister Pavi ,who owns Coriander, an Indian fine dining restaurant
  • an aging Earl
  • Grant, her fiance

The whole Malakar family was just enchanting and I would love to be a family friend included in their communal meals or a diner at Coriander.

I also appreciated that O’Neal did not resort to the typical romance formula of the couple connecting with a promising and budding love affair only to break up because of a trivial misunderstanding (and only to be reunited in a passionate denoument ).   At one point I was afraid Olivia and Samir would wander down that meandering path; they thankfully did not.

There was a bit of predictability in the novel.  Like I said, it’s a romance so you knew the whole couple-thing would work out.   The mystery of the young girl’s disappearance was expected and foreshadowed.   And, maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I hoped and expected that Grant would meet some sort of comeuppance.

Finally, and maybe it was because it was four in the morning, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the whole embezzlement plot and who, how, and when everyone got arrested.  (Oops, spoiler alert.)

I did enjoy the book and just mentioned it to a friend who said she was in the market for something else to read.

And now for the food…

Pavi, the owner of Coriander and the sister to Samir, whips up some delicious sounding lassis in the novel.  Her “posh” lassi with strawberries and fresh coriander was deemed “amazing” by Olivia.  Later in the book, Pavi delivers a rose lassi to her friend:  “The taste was subtle, not as bright as the strawberry but delicious anyway.”

Samir, Pavi’s brother and Olivia’s love interest, makes his secret ingredient chai for Olivia a couple of times in the novel.

I decided to combine these two delicious beverages.

(And, besides, I’ve been on kind of a mango kick lately.)

Mango-Chai Lassi


A refreshing yet mildly spiced treat on a hot and humid summer day.


  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 chai tea bag
  • 1 c. frozen cubed mango
  • 1 c. plain yogurt (not Greek)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • fresh mint


  1. Place tea bag in boiling water and let steep for 3-4 minutes. Remove bag and let tea cool.
  2. When tea is cool, place the tea in a blender with the mango and yogurt. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve over ice. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon and a fresh mint leaf.

Yield: 2-3 (depending on serving size.)

And now for more food…

Here’s all the food and food references I picked up on in the novel:

  • Pints with fish and chips (8)
  • Hen and Eggs, the magazine that Olivia edits (8)
  • Breakfast of eggs, beans and tomatoes (11)
  • Venison stew (red wine, garlic, bacon and red currant jam) (24)
  • Witches’ herb garden (33)
  • Chelsea buns (43)
  • Braised rabbit (79)
  • Rosé to complement the Indian spices (100)
  • Popadam and mint-coriander chutney (101)
  • Riata (101)
  • Paneer prawn tikka, mango chutney and red onions (102)
  • Lamb kheema and jeera rice (105)
  • Gulab jamun (110)
  • Ginger splash (115)
  • Tea and digestives (132)
  • Chicken shawarma (141)
  • Lemonade and strawberries (168)
  • A soup of “lemony broth dotted with parsley and scrolls of spring onions” (184)
  • Kedgeree (186)
  • A posh lassi (202)
  • Masala chai (227)
  • Chicken with ginger, onions, carrots, garlic and peas (226)
  • Fresh asparagus (244)
  • Asparagus, poached eggs and toast (283)
  • Coconut asparagus (290)
  • Mulligatawny (305)
  • Rose lassi (315)
  • A couple of good English rhubarb crumbles appear throughout the book.

Please check out the other stops on this book tour:

Instagram Tour:

Monday, July 16th: @_literary_dreamer_

Monday, July 16th: @girlandherbooks

Tuesday, July 17th:

Wednesday, July 18th: @novelgrounds

Thursday, July 19th: @novelmombooks

Thursday, July 19th: @bookishaurora

Friday, July 20th: @mamareadsblog

Saturday, July 21st: @artbookscoffee

Sunday, July 22nd: @readingandranunculus

Review Tour:

Monday, July 16th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, July 17th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Wednesday, July 18th: Bookmark Lit

Thursday, July 19th: BookNAround

Friday, July 20th: Book Date

Monday, July 23rd: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, July 24th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit

Wednesday, July 25th: What is That Book About

Thursday,  July 26th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, July 30thPatricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, July 31stThe Romance Dish

Wednesday, August 1stReading Reality

Thursday, August 2ndA Holland Reads

Monday, August 6thBooks and Bindings

Tuesday, August 7thA Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, August 8thEliot’s Eats

Monday, August 13thFrom the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 15thKahakai Kitchen


I am linking up with August’s Foodies Reads.



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