Blog Tour: The Secrets Between Us - Review and Recipe by Laura Madeleine

Today I am delighted to host the Blog Tour for Laura Madeleine's new book, The Secrets Between Us. I've got a review for this gorgeous read but also a recipe from Laura to share with you:

Title: The Secret Between Us
Author: Laura Madeleine
Published: January 1st 2018 by Transworld

Blurb: A gripping mystery with a heart-breaking revelation, The Secrets Between Us is a sublimely satisfying story of lost love, betrayal and the dangers of war. 

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton's The Lake House and Dinah Jeffries' Before the Rains.

High in the mountains in the South of France, eighteen-year-old Ceci Corvin is trying hard to carry on as normal. But in 1943, there is no such thing as normal; especially not for a young woman in love with the wrong person. Scandal, it would seem, can be more dangerous than war.

Fifty years later, Annie is looking for her long-lost grandmother. Armed with nothing more than a sheaf of papers, she travels from England to Paris in pursuit of the truth. But as she traces her grandmother’s story, Annie uncovers something she wasn’t expecting, something that changes everything she knew about her family – and everything she thought she knew about herself…

Review: I haven't read many historical fiction novels in the last few months and I had kind of forgotten why I enjoyed this genre so much. But The Secrets Between Us made me fall in love with it all over again. I love the kind of books that transport you to another place, to another time (one you probably don't know much about) and make you part of it. And this is one of these reads.

One of the storylines is set in the South of France during WWII and although I have read many books set during this time, I didn't know much about the situation in this area, controlled by the Italians. Laura Madeleine painted it as a gorgeous place, a place destined for happy endings, which contrasted with the difficult circumstances and what really happened during those horrific times. 

I really enjoyed discovering these mountains and its people, especially the main character Ceci, who was an interesting and complex girl. As the story progressed, we saw her flourish and transform into a brave young woman that surprised me more than once. 

The other storyline took place 50 years later and focused on Ceci's granddaughter, Annie. I was really curious to see how both stories would intertwine and I was not disappointed at all. I loved how well-crafted the whole story was. I was surprised to see how much I ended up caring for these characters. 

The story unwrapped at the right pace, giving me enough time to take all the little details in and kept me wondering what was going to happen next. All in all, a very complex and mesmerising read.

Rating: 5 stars

Recipe by Laura Madeleine:

Orange Blossom, Honey & Pine Nut Cake

With this recipe I’ve tried to capture some of the warmth and fragrance of a spring day in the South of France. The yellow polenta reminds me Nice, Italy and the Alpes-Maritimes; the pine nuts of the tall, dark trees on the slopes and the honey and orange blossom of the flowering herbs that grow in the mountain pastures. I hope you enjoy it!

You will need:

For the cake:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 150g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 free-range eggs
For the syrup:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla pod)
  • 2 tsp orange blossom extract
  • zest and juice of 1 orange 
A topping of candied orange slices is entirely optional; if you can’t be bothered with it, then feel free to simply decorate your cake with fresh orange zest, toasted pine nuts and a dusting of icing sugar!


  • 1 orange
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250ml water
  • A handful of pine nuts 
  • A sprinkling of icing sugar, to decorate

To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 165C / 325F / Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm baking tin. 
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Measure the polenta, almonds and baking powder into a different bowl and gently stir together.
  • Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar one at a time, adding a little of the polenta mix with each to stop the batter from splitting.
  • Make the syrup for the cake and topping: combine the honey, vanilla bean paste, orange blossom extract, orange juice and zest in a jug. (If you’re using very small oranges, you might need a splash more juice).
  • Pour half of the syrup into the cake batter, along with the rest of the polenta mix, and gently fold together. 
  • Pour into the prepared tin, smooth over and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. 
  • Place on a wire rack and leave to cool slightly in the tin. 
  • While the cake is still warm, use a skewer to poke holes in the surface, then slowly spoon over the remainder of the orange-honey-vanilla syrup, so that it soaks in. 

To make the topping: 

(You can do this while the cake is baking!)

  • In a dry frying pan, gently toast the pine nuts for a minute or two until golden and fragrant: don’t take your eyes off them, they burn quickly! Set aside to cool.
  • Cut the orange into slices, as thinly as you can. 
  • Tip the sugar and water into a fairly deep, wide frying pan (a skillet is perfect). 
  • Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Arrange the orange slices in a single layer, and reduce the heat to low, until it is barely simmering. 
  • Simmer gently for around 25-30 minutes, turning the slices occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a syrup and the white pith of the oranges starts to turn translucent. 
  • Turn off the heat and allow the orange slices to cool in the syrup, before transferring to greaseproof paper, or straight onto your cake. 
  • Decorate the cake with the candied slices, toasted pine nuts and a dusting of icing sugar. Sit back with a cup of coffee to enjoy the sweet, sunny flavours.

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