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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

Review: The Dressmaker's Secret by Kellyn Roth

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

It's here! My review of The Dressmaker's Secret is here! I hope y'all have enjoyed Kellyn Roth's interview and guest post, because I have many more Kell goodies coming--including this review!

If they knew who she was, they’d never accept what she’s become.

Claire will stop at nothing to provide for her daughters. An unwed mother, she does everything possible to raise them whilst avoiding her scandalous past. Some secrets are best kept, even between mother and daughter.

Alice longs for a father, especially if that means her mother will be happy. She takes matters into her own hands—but she never expected what she finds.

Despite her efforts to shelter her daughters, Claire’s ghosts rise up to haunt her, and any semblance of control over her life vanishes. If her secrets are uncovered, what will become of her family?

Kellyn Roth is a Christian historical women’s fiction & romance author from North-Eastern Oregon who has independently published multiple novels, the most notable being The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy series. You should definitely call her Kell.

Kell lives on family-owned property outside an unmemorable but historical town with her parents, two little brothers, arbitrary cat, precious border collies, a dozen cows, and lots of chickens. She also possesses a classic, vintage aesthetic which does not at all speak to her country girl side, but such is life.

When not writing, Kell likes to blog, teach writing to her various students, have day jobs which allow her to keep her car properly insured, and spend lavish amounts of money on Dairy Queen french fries. She also likes to talk about Keira Knightley and her own books just … way too much.

Check out Kell's awesome website and blog here!

So, I’ve finally generated a formula for proper, contained, not-so-crazy reviews, and Lord knows I’d wanted to stick with it, but after the Queen of Assumptions (who has been known to bet some strange things on said assumptions) got blindsided, I decided to forgo the aforementioned formula.

The Dressmaker’s Secret is insane. I say that from the point-of-view of a reader who just finished being pummeled by plot twist after plot twist after plot twist, so had I given myself a couple days before writing this review, I might not have put out such a remark.

That being said, there is no doubt that TDS will probably drive you insane. Kellyn Roth can twist like an accomplished mystery writer. Not even Poirot could have seen some of the revelations in this book coming.

Punches in the gut aside, I was extremely surprised by this novel (and I’m not talking about the twists this time). There was no doubt in my mind that Roth is a fantastic writer—I knew that before I got into TDS. Her prose is even and measured, with a kind of philosophical slant (I understand that because I write very philosophically myself, so…). She writes with a maturity and authority, which is great to see in an indie author, because so many (myself included) doubt their abilities as writers, in multiple aspects.

*returns to finish this review several days after the first part was written* Well, needless to say, I think I’ve regained my composure. Granted, if you asked me about Ivy, McCale House, and Jordy McAllen, I’d start goin’ on again—but we’re talking about TDS. Claire and Nettie. Alice and Ivy. Mr. Parker *shudders* and Mr. Knight.

What was I saying?

Ah, yes. Roth’s performance was exquisite. Her plotting prowess is apparent by her careful maneuvering and twisting of all the many elements of said dressmaker’s secret. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something else would happen or someone else would turn up and I’d be left guessing again.

Granted, I totally called Mr. Knight. The Queen yet reigns!

Ahem. What struck me the most was how well she wrote from Alice’s POV. I know from firsthand experience that writing from the perspective of a child is strenuous, nigh impossible. (Mind you, I try to write from the POV of tween boys, which is perhaps worse, me being a girl and all.) I’m even more stunned, going into Ivy Introspective, by how well she writes Ivy’s POV.

But we’re talking about Alice here.

Alice (or Gracie, whichever you prefer; I’d rather use Alice, since Gracie is a mite confusing for moi) is a colorful narrator. She grew and matured mentally, and her outlook on her life and family shifted smoothly as she changed from a scared seven-year-old to a blossoming eleven-year-old. I enjoyed reading her interactions with her family and the few outside it. Her fears and hopes, concerns and dreams, were all portrayed so well that I would have been convinced that Roth was Alice had she not applied the same expertise to Claire’s POV.

TDS was a wee bit outside my comfort zone. I’m used to adventures and romance, spies and cowboys—not children. But somehow The Dressmaker’s Secret captured me. In all honestly, I’d say ‘twas the mystery. I do love a good mystery. I wanted to know who and what Claire was, what her story was. This curiosity lured in me, but my growing affection for the characters reeled in the line!

That being said, I would have liked to see Claire’s relationships with the other characters (Charlie, Parker, Knight, etc.) develop a little more. Since I’m devoid her perspective in Ivy Introspective (and since Charlie is quickly becoming a most delightful character), in hindsight I wish for more of Claire. More of her thoughts and dreams and her struggles.

Also in hindsight, she was mighty nice to Mr. Parker. My, I could’ve strangled that man. Hmph.

Either way, Alice kept me entertained. Stories such as Alice’s remind me of Elsie Dinsmore (a beloved favorite of mine), for whom my soul ached until I simply had to stop reading. (Seriously, I won’t pick up the next Elsie book because I just don’t want Mr. Vanilla—I mean, Travilla—to die. Noooooo!!!!! Why???!!! I love you, Edward!!!!)

Pardon me. You must forgive my errant displays of emotion. At times, my feelings get the best of me.

On a not-so-bookish note, Roth is a fantastic example for young indie authors to follow. She started writing at a young age, published her books at fifteen-years-old, and has now risen to popularity. I can’t wait to see where she’ll go!

Long story short, I really enjoyed The Dressmaker’s Secret. Kellyn Roth knows how to write. She knows how to write a mind-boggling plot twist. She knows how to write fun, lovable characters. She knows how to make you laugh, cry, and think. She is definitely going far!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated above are my own.

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