Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review + GIVEAWAY: A Respectable Actress


A Respectable Actress
By Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson, 2015



Summary

When India Hartley is accused of murder, she must uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

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.



My thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love, an impressively well-written story that often made me think of Eugenia Price's St. Simons trilogy. It features romance, mystery, suspense, and even some gothic overtones. I’ve always been a fan of gothic romances, so this was an added delight, as was the blend of murder mystery with the post-Civil War setting of Georgia’s St. Simons Island and Savannah. What pleasantly surprised me was the complexity of this story and the knowledge I gained from the theater world at that time. Although A Respectable Actress stands alone, those who have read The Bracelet will enjoy Celia Mackay’s involvement with India’s situation.

From Savannah’s Southern Palace Theater to Philip’s St. Simons plantation, Indigo Point, I found the historical setting fascinating and rich in its detail. India’s character was inspired by the life of a 19th-century actress, and Philip’s plantation is modeled after King’s Retreat, a large plantation on the southern tip of St. Simons Island. I connected with India from the beginning, easily sensing her struggles and fears at feeling like an outsider - first from career choice, then as a murder suspect. And Philip, the attorney hired to defend India, is the type of leading man I enjoy - quiet, almost brooding, prone to keep things to himself in the beginning.

There’s nothing predictable about A Respectable Actress, and readers will also love all the surprising twists and turns that Dorothy packs into this story. I didn’t feel much chemistry between Philip and India, yet I think there’s an authenticity to Dorothy’s writing and their romance fits the times. They are likeable characters and I enjoyed the unfolding of their sweet relationship.

The only thing that disappointed me at first was the seeming lack of a spiritual message, for this is why I read Christian fiction.  Philip and India’s faith or belief system is never outwardly conveyed. On the one hand, I felt this excellent, high-quality story should be classified as “clean” rather than “Christian” fiction . . . yet on the other hand, I could see a subtlety of faith in action through characters’ actions in caring for others, possibly reflective of the religious beliefs of the plantation owners at the time. 

A Respectable Actress beautifully conveys historical elements in Georgia’s lowcountry in an intriguing story that hooked me from the first paragraph and kept me entertained throughout. Highly recommended.

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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 Dorothy online at dorothylovebooks.com, Twitter, and Facebook

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Litfuse landing page:

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GIVEAWAY

My deepest thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing a giveaway copy of A Respectable Actress.

To enter the drawing, please click on this link to my Facebook page and share. Then leave a comment about any other of Dorothy’s books that you might have read, or what appeals to you about this story.

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Saturday, November 14. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents



41 comments:

  1. Just finished Love Beyond Measure and I was really impressed by the time Dorothy took for character development. I really fell in love with the characters and their struggles and triumphs were very emotional for me. Great book and I look forward to reading more of your titles!

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    1. Beth, for me to enjoy a book, it has to have character depth and I think Dorothy does a great job at that. This is a book you will certainly enjoy. Thanks for stopping by, Beth.

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  2. I haven't read any of Dorothy's books yet, but I am intrigued by the celebrity angle that keeps her in the company of her lawyer. Thanks for the review and giveaway!
    momrain(AT)aol(DOT)com

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    1. Loraine, this book is different from the average historical and I really enjoyed it. The setting is also in my home state, which added a lot of interest. Best wishes in the giveaway, Loraine!

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  3. I haven't read any of Dorothy's books but I would like to try and read one of her books. Thank you for the great giveaway. mommystuck1(at)optonline(dot)net.

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    1. If you like historicals, you should enjoy Dorothy's novel, Tammy. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Thanks for the honest review. Sounds more "inspirational" than "Christian" - not that there's anything wrong with that.

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    1. I totally agree that there's nothing wrong with that . . . It's just that I expect spiritual "meat" when I read a book by a Christian publisher. Excellent book, though!

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  5. Carole, I agree with you on this one -- well-researched and written. I struggled to find a spiritual theme as well. The brief mentions of prayer meetings and church services seemed in keeping with the era of the book but not an indication of the faith of the characters. There has been much discussion on a FB page about Thomas Nelson and the shift away from its "Christian" roots. I wonder if that is the case with this novel as well. However, I found it to be an excellent book and gave it a highly recommended designation. Thanks so much for your thoughtful review.

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    1. I'd love to read that FB discussion, Beckie! This is such a well-written and interesting story - and there's nothing wrong with clean fiction. It's just that, like I mentioned in a comment above, that I expect and want spiritual "meat" when I pick up a book by a Christian publisher. That's why I read Christian fiction, to be inspired and even challenged in my faith. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Beckie. I have the greatest respect for your thoughts.

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  6. Ms. Love is a new-to-me author. I enjoy a great murder mystery. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

    I follow your blog and shared giveaway on Facebook.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

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    1. You're so good to always share, Caryl! Thank you so much for that. And while I don't care for suspense, I love a good murder mystery. This is one I think you'll enjoy.

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  7. I have yet to read Dorothy's books, but they look great! I love the setting and premise.

    kathrynlvoss(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Kate, are you a southern girl like me? This takes place in my state and while I've only been to Georgia's coastal area a few times, I could vividly see all that Dorothy described. Excellent story!

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  8. I liked and shared. I don't know if I have read any of her books. Thank you for the chance at the giveaway.
    Redrabbitt (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, that really helps spread the word about Dorothy's writing. If you like historical novels, you should enjoy this one. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  9. I like when there is a little mystery and suspense along with the romance. This time period in Georgia looks very interesting also.
    Thereadmaster(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Virginia, I live in Georgia, so I absolutely loved that aspect of this novel. The mystery is also great, not too scary. Best wishes in the giveaway.

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  10. I don't think I have read any of her books. I love a book with lots of twists and turns.

    amylsmith AT bledsoe DOT net

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    1. There are certainly some twists and turns in this story, Amy. I've been to the Savannah area a few times many years ago, and loved the setting. Really good story.

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  11. I have only read a couple of novellas. I prefer longer books and this one piqued my interest when it was on pre-buy. The reviews have been really good, so far.
    tlhcoupon (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. Terrill, sometimes I crave novellas when I'm real busy, but definitely prefer novels most of the time. This is an excellent story, well researched. So glad you stopped by, Terrill.

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  13. Lovely review, Carole. Those gothic undertones are what drew me into the story too.

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    1. Kav, I loved gothics back in the 70s and still read them today - when I can find time, that is! Would have loved some spiritual themes, but still a great story.

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  14. Thank you for sharing with us at #JoyHopeLive!

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    1. I love the way you promote good reading, Mary. Always glad to share with you!

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  15. Thank you for a great review and this giveaway.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  16. Excellent review, Carole! I always love reading your thoughts! I think what first caught my attention when I came across this book, was the mystery. I adore mysteries and trying to guess "whodunnit." I've also not read many set in historical times and I enjoy the look into how they used to solve mysteries.
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    ~Sarah
    bookluver1492[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Sarah, I don't care for suspense, but there's nothing I love more than a good murder mystery that involves the step-by-step solving of a crime. Thank you so much for your sweet comments.

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  17. The fact that it's set in Savannah and St. Simon's Island in GA intrigues me! Nancycooks4u ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com
    I shared on Facebook also.

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    1. Nancy, that's why I couldn't resist signing on to review this book! I love southern fiction anyway, but for a novel to be set in my state is wonderful. I've only visited Georgia's coast a few times, but instantly fell in love with the area and its history. Thanks for sharing, for that really helps spread the word about Dorothy's writing.

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  18. I don't recall reading any of her books but I definitely want to read this one it sounds really good. To be accused of a crime you did not commit would make for a very interesting and suspenseful story I think .

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    1. There's a lot of layers and depth to this story, Laurie, and I think you would definitely enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  19. I have not read anything by this author but have a feeling I've been missing out. The Historical Savannah setting and a mystery is very appealing. Thanks for the chance to win. dmskrug3(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  20. I have read a few of Dorothy's books and I liked Carolina Gold very much. I am looking forward to reading A Respectable Actress. I like romance, but a little intrigue makes for better reading. Thanks for the opportunity to enter for this giveaway.

    princessdebbie1 underscore 2000 at yahoo dot com

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  21. This is a new author to me and this book sounds so good.
    Thank You!

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  22. The cover of this book is beautiful! I so enjoy good suspense. The story line really sounds intriguing...a murder takes place on stage during a live performance and the prime suspect is a famous, beautiful actress who is the co-star of the man who was murdered?! Multiple twists, romance.....yup, sounds like a goodie! Thanks for the opportunity of this giveaway!

    nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. Ooh, this book looks like one I would love! Thanks for being a part of Booknificent Thursday this week!
    Tina

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  24. I love the story Dorothy wrote called the Bracelet, which I won from her and the bracelet that I won from her also. I enjoyed her story so much I went back and ordered all her books on amazon ! I would think this is a must read for me !
    Blessings
    Linda Marie Finn
    faithfulacresbodysoulspirit@gmail.com

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