The Secret Between Us

The Secret Between Us Cover

Louise Douglas

A chance encounter: When Sarah meets dark, brooding Alex, she grasps his offer of a new life miles away from her own. They've both recently escaped broken relationships, and need to start again. Why not do it together? A perfect life: But when Sarah gets to the tiny village of Burrington Stoke, something doesn't add up. Alex's beautiful wife Genevieve was charming, talented, and adored by all who knew her. And apparently, she and Alex had a successful marriage complete with a gorgeous son, Jamie. Why would Genevieve walk out on her perfect life? And why has no one heard from her since she did so? A web of lies: Genevieve's family and all her friends think that Alex knows more about her disappearance than he's letting on. But Sarah's fallen in love with him and just knows he couldn't have anything to hide. Or could he?

WHSmith Edition now contains Exclusive Bonus material including...

Author Q & A

Reading Group Questions

Louise Douglas on writing The Secrets Between Us

Sample Chapter of Louise Douglas’s new novel, In Her Shadow.


Judy: Louise Douglas’s third novel is an ideal holiday read – a gripping blend of romance and murder mystery.

The story itself starts on a holiday – Sarah’s. It is August and Sarah has fled to Roman-hot Sicily after discovering her partner has slept with her best friend. Worse, his betrayal came shortly after Sarah gave birth to their stillborn baby son.

Doubly devastated, Sarah joins her sister and brother-in-law in a sleepy Sicilian hotel where she meets Alex, a darkly intense man who is with his six-year-old boy, Jamie. Only weeks earlier, Alex’s wife, the beautiful Genevieve, walked out on husband and son and nothing has been heard of her since.

Sarah and Alex are powerfully drawn to each other from the outset and within days have a passionate encounter. Sarah finds herself agreeing to Alex’s suggestion that she join him and Jamie in their rural Somerset home to look after them both, as housekeeper and nanny.

Her sister and wider family are appalled – they think she is being reckless and quite possibly having some kind of breakdown – but she forges ahead, and a few weeks later finds herself back in England and on a train to Somerset. Alex and a sulky Jamie (who resents this stranger entering his world) meet Sarah at the station and they drive to Avalon, Alex’s rambling, sprawling, scruffy house deep in the countryside within sight of ancient Glastonbury Tor.

A new and increasingly sinister chapter is Sarah’s life has begun. What has she got herself into?

Richard: This is a pleasingly old-fashioned kind of story, gutsy and confidently-written . It reminded us both of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Genevieve, the missing wife, is almost a ghostly presence in Avalon. Alone in the big house during the day, with Jamie at school and Alex in his sculptor’s workshop, Sarah feels Genevieve’s presence. Sometimes she almost glimpses her, lurking in the corner of a mirror or standing just behind her. But the manifestations are elusive.

Like Du Maurier’s Rebecca, Genevieve was charming, beautiful and practically an object of worship to all who knew her. A gifted horse-rider and show-jumper, she’d been tipped for Olympic glory. What can have become of her?

People in the nearby village are suspicious of Sarah, as are Genevieve’s prosperous and influential father and mother, who own the local quarry. Eventually, with no word from the missing woman, the police are brought in. Alex is interviewed and swears Genevieve left him a note telling him she was leaving him. But he cannot produce it. He tells the police and Sarah that he ‘burned it’ while drunk a few days after his wife walked out. For the first time, Sarah begins to doubt him.

Louise Douglas remorselessly ratchets up the tension and we begin suspecting everyone of having a hand in Genevieve’s fate, whatever it is that has befallen her. Even Sarah herself gives us pause for thought. Is the story she is telling us quite what it seems – or is she psychologically disintegrating, a collapse brought on by her stillbirth and marriage breakdown?

A cracking yarn with a powerful sense of place, both in Sicily and Somerset. You’ll love it.

Reviews & Comments

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  • I haven't yet finished reading this book but I'm about half way through and feel compelled to write about how much I am thoroughly enjoying this read!

    I have been trying to find a book that captivated me as much as 'Me Before You' by Jo Jo Moyes and I can honestly say this book is doing just that - I can't wait to pick it up again!

    It is romantic, with drama and suspense which is keeping me absolutely mesmerised.


  • Aiming to read all of the Summer Book Club choices in a relatively short time, I began with this one and it was a great start to the Summer season of reading. Although I would advise anyone living on their own not to read this novel late at night unless they are of a fearless nature, this is a thrilling page turner.

    Louise Douglas is sure footed in her evocation of place and a particular atmosphere, but the reader is less certain from the word 'go' of whom to trust and what is real. This makes for an interesting literary journey in which our curiosity is stirred from the first sentence. The composition of chapters is skilful in the extreme:each episode ending on a puzzle or a cliffhanger. The novel is rich in character and the frighteningly wrought ghostly interludes are truthful and spine-tingling: an object dropped or a door opening whilst you are reading could cause health issues! Inevitably, the tale of a young woman opting to follow a handsome mysterious man to his desolate home will have us drawing parallels with 'Rebecca' and ,indeed, Ms Douglas' writing also resonates with DuMaurierisms but its contemporary settings and its sexual descriptions are modern and straightforward, although subplots with missing wives' dresses and the like are a little too close to Miss Du Maurier's canon. The heroine has a name, Sarah, and a convincing back-story but, on occasion, her rationale for doing something really stupid is a little thin. Neverthe less,we empathise with her situation and we see the deteriorating scenario through her eyes. Anxious not to plot spoil, the plot involves a wronged husband, a missing wife, ghostly goings-on underpinned with a genuinely passionate and touching love story and a medititation on the nature of love for a child: your own or one who has 'become' yours. The character of Sarah's sister, in particular, grounds a novel which could steer too far away from the path of reality. The quality of the writing is strong and simple. It is not Booker prize winning material but it is eminently readable and leaves you wanting more and thinking about the novel long after you have finished it....and you will finish it very quickly despite its length. An excellent choice, Richard and Judy, and a good start for me as it made me think: if all the books are as good as this, it is going to be a great summer! We travel from Sicily


  • I have just finished this book - I started it yesterday and only stopped reading overnight as, rather annoyingly, needed to sleep!! Suffice to say this was a real page turner and I would recommend it to anyone. I do hope the rest of the books in the Summer Collection are as good.


  • I have just finished The Secrets between Us: personally the first 100 pages were pretty slow and do not think it came anywhere near Jo Jo Moyes 'Me Before You' which was superb. Saying that still a good read and gets better as you progress with a surprising end to the who dunit! As for the "thrilling page turner" - if you want a thriller to send shivers down your spine - try Simon Kernick - they don't get any better.


  • Reminiscent of the Gothic splendour of a modern day Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, I thought that The Secrets Between Us was a really accomplished novel. Louise Douglas certainly knows how to write a good story, and involves the reader in an imaginative and consuming way. The plot is twisted and convoluted right to the very end, and yet is beautifully atmospheric, with some genuinely creepy moments. The characterisation is subtle, and yet all consuming as we begin genuinely to care for Alexander who is flawed and vulnerable, Jamie who is damaged and precocious, and Sarah, who, whilst fighting her own demons, must try and keep this family together.

    The Secrets Between Us is a haunting and passionate love story, which will entertain and keep you guessing right to the end.


  • A brilliant book. I read it whilst on holiday and couldn't put it down. Love a book that has an unexpected twist at the end!!


  • Fabulous book. Beautifully written and atmospheric until the end when all became clear. Loved it!


  • Really disappointed with this! I've been reading R&J summer reads for the last few years and this is just not up to the usual standard. Found it very 'Mills & Boon' - which I know is very popular.. but not for everyone. It was far too long for the story and very predictable. Still, first bad read out of all the books R&J have recommended can't be bad really, can it!

    Clare Hudson

  • I totally enjoyed this book, downloaded it yesterday and finished it today. I found it gripping and played with all of my emotions at once. I found it a real page turner and couldn't put it down at all (not even to cook the dinner) lovely easy read for the summer well done


  • Read this on holiday and couldn't put it down, quite thrilling full of anticipation, loved that it was set near my home town too, excellent read, have recommended to my friends


  • Read this on holiday and couldn't put it down, quite thrilling full of anticipation, loved that it was set near my home town too, excellent read, have recommended to my friends


  • A haunting love story, which will entertain and keep you guessing from the opening page. This is an accomplished thriller, full of twists & surprises, coupled with a strong love story. I read this very quickly as I needed to know the outcome and as everything unravelled and was then pieced together, I wasn't disappointed.


  • Just finished this book and would recommend to all, It is a thoroughly good read and whilst everyone looks for something different in books, eg the lady who discussed paragraph compositions, etc, it is a good love story with underlying menace which makes you want to read on. A very good holiday read

    Su Trinder

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