Book review: Genteel Secrets by S.R. Mallery

Having thoroughly enjoyed Sewing Can Be Dangerous by this author, I jumped at the chance to read Genteel Secrets. This is because I had high expectations, knowing this author’s unique ability to weave historical elements into her stories seamlessly, and to make them come so alive that it feels like you’re living them firsthand. As I expected, this delightful short read didn’t disappoint. This was the first time I read Civil War fiction and felt perfectly immersed into it, meeting legendary figures of this era for the first time and learning all about the espionage, the battles, and the unfair treatment African Americans suffered at the time. The romantic story was sweet and tender, the misunderstandings and adversities that often created distance between the protagonists spurred me on to keep turning the pages, and all the while I rooted for their love to have a happy ending. In a nutshell, the story was utterly delightful and its ending fully satisfying. I recommend this book highly if you’re looking for a short, romantic read to transport you to a different era and have you experience it in vivid colors!

My rating


A compelling read!


Do you love historical fiction? How about a tender love story that is tested by strict social restraints and the hardships of war? Give this delightful short read a try! Chances are you’ll love it! VISIT AMAZON

Check out my interview with S.R. Mallery on this blog & marvel at her various artistic skills!



Genteel Secrets: a compelling Civil War #romance by @SarahMallery1 #ASMSG #IAN1 Click To Tweet
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Interview with Sarah Mallery, author of Sewing Can Be Dangerous

Hello peeps! Today I’m pleased to present a friend and co-member at eNovel Authors at Work; the lovely Sarah Mallery. I’m currently reading her short story collection, Sewing Can Be Dangerous; if I was to describe the book in one word, I’d definitely choose ‘haunting’. The stories revolve around sewing or quilts, exploring different places and times in history. They all linger in my memory and are absolutely fantastic. Check out Sarah’s books below. She could very well be your next favorite author!



These eleven short stories range from drug traffickers using hand-woven wallets, to a U.S. slave sewing freedom codes into her quilts; from a cruise ship murder mystery with a quilt instructor and a NYPD police detective, to a couple hiding Christian passports into a comforter in Nazi Germany; from an old Salem Witchcraft wedding quilt curse to a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Ashbury love affair between a professor and a macramé artist gone horribly wrong, just to name a few.

“This is a box of bon-bons, every story an eye-opening surprise. Eat one and you’ll want to devour the whole box.” 




A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?

In “Unexpected Gifts” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

“It simply is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I wish I could give it six stars!”




Curl up and enter the eclectic world of S. R. Mallery, where sad meets bizarre and deception meets humor; where history meets revenge and magic meets gothic. Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these TALES TO COUNT ON, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTDS fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.

“Mallery’s endings keep me holding my breath until the very last word… I tried to anticipate where it was going, only to suffer whiplash at the end—19 times! I should be wearing a neckbrace.”




Hello Sarah and welcome to my blog!

Thank you Fros! It’s great to be here!

What has inspired you to write Unexpected Gifts?

I have always appreciated looking at photographs from both my grandmothers’ photo albums. As I studied my individual relatives, I wouldn’t just think, ‘Oh, that’s my Aunt So-and-So!’ I would scrutinize their outfits, their faces, their postures. Were they sad? Happy? Bored? Annoyed at suddenly being put on display? That strong ancestral interest dovetailed nicely with my love of U.S. history, so when I decided to write this novel, putting those two themes together just kind of clicked.

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

Actually, I started writing when I was around fifty years old. But the germ of my first story, “Sewing Can Be Dangerous”, came a couple of years earlier. When my father told me about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, I had already been a quilt designer/teacher for over twenty years. So, in doing my research on that horrific event, I was particularly drawn to those hapless immigrant seamstresses who, in spite of their overworked hours and low pay, were often the only ones in their families that could find work in the U.S. I also enjoyed thinking about the sewing aspect, surrounded as I was by so many quilts and fabrics in my studio. I therefore decided to continue writing short stories, connected only by one element of sewing/crafts. That actually helped me focus on future stories. In other words, no matter what time period I was reading about, that context kept me asking questions like, how would sewing/crafting ‘fit’ into a story that takes place in this time frame? Who would be the likely characters?

Sarah, I must say, the short story about the fire haunted me the most! And thank you for these photos. You’re a multi-talented woman! What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).


THE DOLAN GIRLS, due for publication shortly, has been a blast to research. Someone suggested that I look into writing about the Wild West, seeing as I was so drawn to history, and I will be forever grateful for that advice! I had always enjoyed watching westerns growing up–the atmosphere, the history, and of course, the HUNKY men! Yes, even at ten, I had my crushes on certain actors in movies/TV series…

But in doing my research, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed reading about the politics, schoolmarms, whorehouse madams, ‘soiled doves,’ Pinkertons, horse trainers, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, desperados, and the lingo––talk about colorful. Just fantastic!!

Sounds highly enjoyable. Good luck with the launch, Sarah. Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?

I appreciate so many writers, but the ones that I feel had a strong influence on me growing up were Harper Lee, Betty Smith, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Margaret Mitchell, and William Styron. I loved their great story telling, their clarity of prose, and all their vivid descriptions without ever being overly verbose.

What do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

Since I started out being traditionally published, I am fully aware of the problems that can go along with that. I found out that unless you are a big name writer, many times small publishers don’t do much promoting, so you end up doing most of it yourself. Besides that, you don’t have any control with changing things, such as Amazon “keywords” or seeing your royalties. Recently, I had some interest in my THE DOLAN GIRLS, but although I was flattered, I sat back and thought about it. That would mean that if this big agency did pick me up and if they did sell it to a big publisher, it probably wouldn’t get published for at least two years. I would have no say about my cover and I wouldn’t necessarily get long term promotional help unless the book was doing very, very well, etc., etc. So I decided I’d take my chances and remain indie.

Good for you, Sarah. Although I bet it felt good that an agent actually reached out to you. Being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

 I use my treadmill as I watch countless movies and TV series. I also do some ‘peddling’ on my daughter’s old, little portable stair-climber as I watch the news with my husband. And recently, I’ve been trying to build up a habit of dancing to Pandora as I do household chores. Stacking the dishwasher or dusting the house does take longer this way, but hey, I have fun! BTW, Disco, Bollywood music, Latin dancing, and the Andrew Sisters are fantastic for that! Talk about a great mood lifter!

Oh I love dancing and movies too! Well done for combining mundane chores with exercise! I always have blaring music playing when I do housework – helps to keep me moving, LOL. Is there anything you like to do to get the creative juices flowing when you write?

I have been known to write entire scenes in the car, a fast food joint, or in a doctor’s waiting room, but in general, I write at home, either on the computer or at my desk, scribbling away next to a chirpy-purring cat named June (although we tend to call her June-Bug). Her brother Rocco is usually nestled at my feet. Recently, however, I have been starting my day on my bed, with a “Cuppa Joe” and Rocco crunched against my side, as I write scenes longhand, do some editing, or answer questions such as these…


June-Bug is gorgeous! Give her a cuddle for me… If you could choose another profession, what would that be?

Well, I’m already an ESL teacher and having that as well as my writing is a perfect combination for me. One is solitary, introspective, and self-absorbed; the other is social, outgoing, and philanthropic.

Sounds like a great combo, Sarah! I’ve so enjoyed our chat but, before I let you go, can I pester you for more photos of your handiwork please? And I hear you’ve done calligraphy in the past. Have you brought a picture on that?

Sure, Fros! Since it was Halloween only recently, how about this one?


Wow, fantastic!

And here are more quilts to show your readers…

Oh my goodness, these are terrific, Sarah. I am amazed…

Thanks Fros; the shelf one is what I call a “Memento Quilt.” I used to make these for money. People would give me their loved one’s cherished clothing and I would work with them to design any quilt they wanted using clothing–buttons, zippers and all!

You’re one terrific lady, Sarah! Thank you so much for being here with us today, unfolding your many talents to us all.

Aw, thanks so much, Fros, for inviting me and for your kind words!


Well, before I display my ‘official’ bio, I thought I’d present something a little different. Something that might make you understand why I’ve had such varied careers!

I happen to be a Gemini, and in writing this for some reason I suddenly decided to look up the personality traits for that sign. Now, please understand I have always scoffed at those pickup lines, “What sign are you, baby?” and would never base my future on astrology, but I was flabbergasted to read the following list which explained so much of whom I am.

According to this list, Gemini’s are socially outgoing, adjustable, restless, creative, sometimes unable to pay attention to details, good with their hands, easily distracted, anxious, humorous, and love to share. Suggested careers for this sign include writer, teacher, inventor, and craftsperson. Well, that sure fits me to a “T”! Now here’s my bio:

S. R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.


Visit Sarah’s Amazon page  US   UK

Visit Sarah’s website



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(Popular boards on history, vintage clothing, old films and lots more!)


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