India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, is now alone after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.
A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.
Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia lowcountry and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.
A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels. When she isn’t busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.
Find out more about Dorothy at http://dorothylovebooks.com.
I have been on a suspense reading jag and in desperate need of a change of pace. Dorothy Love’s latest historical novel, A Respectable Actress, was the perfect choice! Well-researched and richly detailed, this book brought post-Civil War Savannah and St. Simon’s Island to life. I became thoroughly immersed in the sounds and sights of a genteel world struggling to adapt to the new order in which they find themselves. Add a romance and a mystery, and you get a complex book that definitely exceeded this reader’s expectations. A Respectable Actress gets a highly recommended designation from me.
India Hartley is a renowned and beloved actress endeavoring to make a living following the loss of her father and her theater company. She hopes that touring the theaters of the South will be a fresh start for her life and career. But an actress is sometimes treated with disdain and suspicion and could prove the perfect person to take the blame for murder. India soon finds herself swept into a murder charge and left to rely on Phillip Sinclair, the brooding attorney hired to represent her. Desperate to belong, India finds herself once again on the outside feeling the judgment of others.
There are a great many things to love about A Respectable Actress. I connected with main character, India, immediately. The story is told in the third person from her perspective. This reader felt all the emotions — fear, doubts, confusion and loss of identity — as India strives to regain her equilibrium and prove her innocence. India is the consummate actress, and while she is successful in hiding her emotions from others, her true self is revealed. Other characters are well-developed as well. The historical details of the novel ring true. I learned a great deal about the theater of the 1800s as well as the plight of Southerners, both genteel and common, in the aftermath of the Civil War. Fortunes were lost and roles were changed. Some characters, such as Amelia, Phillip’s sister, and Binah, a former slave, meet the challenges with courage and determination. Others give in to despair and depravity. I found the novel also had just the right balance of mystery and history. Fans of du Maurier’s Rebecca and/or the historical novels of Eugenia Price, especially her St. Simon’s Trilogy, will find much to love here. As for themes, Love explores how appearances play a large role in how we view and treat others.
So if you are looking for a book to sweep you away into another world, with great characters, an intriguing plot, and excellent research and writing, be sure to check out Dorothy Love’s A Respectable Actress.
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(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)