Monday, July 8, 2024

Review & Giveaway - - The Secret Keeper of Main Street

The Secret Keeper of Main Street
by Trisha R. Thomas
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 4, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

1954: In the quaint town of Mendol, Oklahoma, Bailey Dowery is a Black dressmaker for the wives and daughters of local oil barons. She earns a good living fitting designer gowns and creating custom wedding dresses for the town’s elite. But beyond her needle and thread lies a deeper talent, one passed down from her mother: the gift of insight. With just a fleeting touch or brush against the skin, Bailey has sudden flashes of intuition— witnessing the other person’s hopes, dreams, and nightmares, as well glimpses of their past and future. To protect herself, she wears gloves to keep from grazing the skin of her clients as she pins them into their gowns.

Brides have whispered that Bailey can see if their true love is faithful, or if their marriage will be a success. Her aunt Charlene has always warned her, “It’s safer to stay out of White folks’ business.” But Bailey will reluctantly provide a reading during a fitting, as long as the bride promises to be discreet.

Now Elsa Grimes, daughter of one of the richest oil men in Oklahoma, has come to the Regal Gown as the least joyful bride Bailey has ever seen. Elsa’s big society wedding is imminent and her gown is gorgeous, but what Bailey’s intuition uncovers when she touches Elsa’s hand horrifies her. Against her better judgment, she’s determined to help Elsa in whatever way she can. But when the son of a prominent family turns up dead on the eve of Elsa’s wedding, and the bride-to-be is arrested for his murder, Bailey is suddenly at the center of a firestorm that threatens to overtake her and everyone she loves.

PJ's Thoughts:

This was a good story set in a different era from what I typically read. It's 1950's Oklahoma (which I still have trouble thinking of as "historical") where there's a clear divide between rich and poor, black and white, the town elite and those who serve them. And then there's Bailey Dowery, a Black dressmaker who finds herself somewhere in between. An employee of a white business owner, Bailey is in demand for her fashion skills as well as her psychic skills while clearly not someone who would be welcomed into any of the white women's homes. And yet she finds herself in an alliance, a friendship of sorts, with the white daughter of one of the most powerful families in town, a relationship that won't go down easy for either side. Add in a murder, secret relationships, betrayals, complex family dynamics, and Bailey's "second sight" and this story turns into a compelling drama that kept me flipping pages right up until the end. 

Thomas explores multiple themes in this book that weave in and out of the storylines, connecting unexpected characters as events unfold and secrets are revealed. She isn't hesitant to shine a spotlight on the racial divides that existed, impacting the lives of more than a few of the characters. She touches on the complications and heartache of social restrictions placed on certain characters, particularly women, and of the inability to live an authentic life. She also explores the many layers of relationships - family, romantic, friendship - which bring another level of emotion and understanding to the lives of these characters and enough unexpected twists to keep readers wondering how it will all turn out in the end. I enjoyed it and will be seeking out more of Ms. Thomas's books. 

Content Warning: murder, sexual assault

Have you read any books set in the 1950's? Do you enjoy stories set in that era?

Have you read any books written by Trisha R. Thomas?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, July 9 will receive a hard cover copy of The Secret Keeper of Main Street

*U.S. only

*Must be 18


  1. That sounds intriguing. I was born in 1950 so i think this would be really interesting. I guess that is considered historical now lol.

    1. I think we're considered historical now. ;-)

  2. I've read a few books set in the early 60s, like The Help and Where the Crawdads Sing, but there seems to be a gap between that time and historical novels set around World War II. This looks like an interesting story and was pleased to see my local library has the book with a wait list.

  3. The fifties are historical? I graduated from high school in 1957. Lord, I'm older than dirt. Thanks for the review. This is a new to me author. The themes of this book are based on a reality that we still find hard to erase. I do enjoy books from this era. Or any era, actually. I am a fan of character driven stories, so era and location are not so important to me. And Oklahoma, yes, some very interesting history there. But, actually interesting history everywhere. This does sound like a fascinating book and thank you for helping me find this author.
    I hope your vacation was filled with wonderful adventures. Welcome back.

    1. I know! It's hard to wrap my mind around. lol Vacation hasn't begun yet. I'm still in packing mode. ;-)

  4. This is a great synopsis, PJ.
    Mysteries and thrillers do not interest me, but this book sounds really intriguing. As I read your review, the societal white and black blurred, making the story a book to be put on my TBR pile. I know the main character is "invisible" due to her skin color and the time era. But, I think it would work in any high society-poor person historical genre. The insight aspect is what caught my attention.

  5. I have read many novels set in the 1950's. The 1950's is my favorite era since I grew up during that period and it shaped me and my values. This was a time when we had freedom to roam and enjoyed life. I haven't read any books by this author. This story sounds meaningful and unforgettable. Historicals especially during the 1940's and 1950's are profound and memorable.

  6. Trisha R Thomas is a new to me author, but if all of her books are as good as this one sounds I need to read them! Enjoy reading most time periods. (I don't enjoy people labeling books set recently as historical though. Even if technically even last year is 'history' that doesn't make the book a historical one.)

  7. I agree with so many of your readers that it's a bit shocking to think of the 1950s as the setting for historical fiction. I've read and enjoyed many, however. I haven't read Tricia Thomas before, but your review makes me want to look this one up. Thanks, P.J.

  8. Trisha R, Thomas is a new author to me. She sounds like one I need to check out.
    Like you, it is odd to have the 1950's considered in an historical light. However, when you look at it socially, culturally, and the options women had, it really was a much different time. I guess we will have to deal with it. It is interesting to take a look back and be reminded just how much things have changed. Even going back to the 60's shows us big differences. In 1968, I remember working an environmental field day where about a dozen organizations (state, federal, local) were involved. Of the 50 plus people who worked it, I was the only female. Women were still being held to teacher-nurse-secretary roles in most cases.

  9. I don't think I read any books set in the 1950s but this one sounds very interesting. Thanks PJ

  10. This sounds like a compelling read. I like reading about black history. I was born in 1961, I don’t consider that historical, lol