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Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.

But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.

Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

  • Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

I can not believe I waited so long to read a Louise Douglas book! Everyone I know in the blogosphere was recommending her books! Now I see why all these people were mesmerized by Ms Douglas’ writing!

‘The Secret by the Lake’ is a beautiful, breathtaking, complex story which got me hooked from the intriguing prologue. The story spans over 30 and more years and two generations of women, and involves several stories which are masterfully interwoven.

Amy’s a nanny working for Julia and Alain, and taking care of their beautiful daughter Viviane. She spends years in France in their gorgeous house, however is forced to go back home when she hears her father is not feeling well. But things get bad for Julia and little Viviane while Amy is away, and after a terrible loss they need to go back to Amy’s old house by Blackwater Lake, a house which was abandoned and holds some very dark secrets. Julia has not only lost her husband, but all her funds, so she really has no other option but to go back to the house where she spent the early years of her childhood and ask for Amy to come as she needs help. Amy’s bond with Julia and Viviane is so strong, of course she decides she must help them, though she won’t be paid as Julia is on the verge of poor. While these three women try to pick up their lives, the past is back to haunt them. Dark and ugly secrets will be revealed, and the truth of Caroline’s (Julia’s older sister) death which was kept under a mystery veil for so many years, will be brought to light.

This is one of these books that will have you hooked from the beginning and have you hold your breath as you turn the pages. There were so many times when I felt chills running through my body and sometimes it felt like I was listening to (not reading) the dialogue. The characters felt so real, I felt like they were in the same room with me, simply popping out of the pages, wanting to reveal their lives to me.

As this is the first book by Ms Douglas I’ve read, I can’t compare it to any of her previous ones, but the writing though very very unique reminded me a bit of Kate Morton’s in terms of the complexity of the characters and vivid descriptions. I spent hours in this cold, abandoned house by Blackwater Lake, feeling the mist and hearing the waves. I swear, when I closed my eyes I could picture the house and its cold walls, and even now days after reading it I can just close my eyes and think of Caroline and be transported there. AMAZING! Very rare and precious reading experience!

‘The Secret by the Lake’ is definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read. Right after finishing it I loaded my kindle with some of Louise’s previous books and hands are already itching to make a start. Beautiful, mesmerizing, complex and haunting, ‘The Secret by the Lake’ is a book I recommend to everyone! It’s a complex drama/mystery with a perfectly interwoven paranormal element, and everything flows with perfection. I’m still in shock with some of the revelations and the book was full of surprises and twists which I certainly couldn’t predict. Such a clever, complex story and undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Addictive, nail biting, exciting, poignant… this books is everything! Please, don’t make the same mistake I did! If you haven’t read Ms Douglas’ books, you’re really missing out on a fantastic, ubertalented author. Wholeheartedly recommend it! Easiest 5* ever and honestly, deserves all the stars in the sky. Just read it, trust me you need this book in your life.

My rating: 10/10


ouise was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, but moved to Somerset when she was 18 and has stayed there ever since. She has three beautiful sons, and lives with her husband, Kevin, who works in construction. In Her Shadow is her fourth novel. Her first novel, The Love of My Life, was longlisted for both the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Waverton Good Read Award, and her second, Missing You, won the People’s Choice Award at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Pure Passion Awards 2010.

All she ever wanted to be was a published author and in 2006, the opportunity arose. “Kevin was working away during the week and my sons had reached an age where they didn’t need, or want, my constant attention. I thought: ‘it’s now or never,’” said Louise.

She began work on The Love of my Life, sitting at the kitchen table for at least a couple of hours every evening, after work. It took six months to finish the book, and Louise then submitted the first three chapters to agents. A little later, the highly-regarded Dublin-based literary agent, Marianne Gunn O’Connor called to say she liked the story and very soon after, thanks to Marianne and her co-agent Vicki Satlow, Louise had a contract for two books with Pan Macmillan.

“When Marianne called to tell me the news, it was the best, most exciting single moment of my entire professional life,” said Louise. “I know how lucky I am, and I hope my experience will encourage other writers to persevere.”

In 2010, Louise joined Transworld, who published her third book, The Secrets Between Us. This book was selected for the Richard and Judy Summer Read 2012 which has been a VERY exciting experience. Louise met Richard and Judy in London (!!!), was overwhelmed by their enthusiasm for books and reading, and had an amazing day with her Transworld and WH Smith colleagues.

Her fourth book, In Her Shadow, is being published in paperback in August 2013, and she’s currently working on number five. The published books have been widely translated.

Louise still has her day job with aircraft manufacturer Airbus. She works with some brilliant people and is passionate about aviation, engineering and sustainability. She continues to write her fiction in the evenings and sometimes through the night.

“Everything about the past few years has been wonderful,” Louise said. “I’ve enjoyed all of it, but the best thing has been meeting, learning from and working with some inspirational and hugely professional people. Making a book is a collaborative process and a novel’s success is due to the hard work and input of many people, not just the author.

“It means the world to me to be part of the Transworld team; they are more than colleagues to me now; they are friends.”

In her spare time, Louise enjoys being with her family and friends, reading and walking. She goes out into the Mendips as often as possible with the family’s dogs Lil, and new addition, Lola. There are rather a lot of pictures of the puppy on Facebook (Louise Amy Douglas)

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