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.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
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. Facebook: dorothylovebooks Twitter: @WriterDorothy
Read an Excerpt
A Respectable Actress
By Dorothy Love
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Dorothy Love
All rights reserved.
Savannah, December 20, 1870
Gunfire exploded to the right of the stage, a burst of sound that temporarily deafened her. When the ringing in her ears subsided she was aware of screams, of shouts for policemen and for a doctor, of the ensuing chaos as officers arrived and began ushering patrons out of the packed theater. Two burly officers leapt onto the stage, seized her by both arms, and manhandled her into a police wagon parked in the alley, the officers with their weapons at the ready, the horses stamping impatiently in the cold.
Now it was midnight, and the city of Savannah slumbered beneath a veil of winter moonlight, the deep silence broken only by a rush of wind that rattled the palmettos and Pride of India trees lining the deserted streets.
Inside the Chatham County Jail, the walls rang with the shouts of drunken sailors and their painted escorts, the clang of metal bars, and snatches of lewd songs sung off-key. Jaded-looking policemen armed with nightsticks moved along the dimly lit corridors, checking the locks and admonishing the prisoners to quiet down.
"Step away from the door." An officer paused outside India's cell, one hand resting on his nightstick. As if a 110-pound woman posed any threat to his safety.
Weak with shock and terror, India retreated. Perched on the edge of a stained, musty-smelling mattress, she rested her head in her hands. What had she done to deserve such grave misfortune? She didn't belong here. And the last thing she needed was scandal. But this latest turn of events — as dramatic as it was tragic — would prove irresistible to the local newspapers. She imagined the typesetter over at the Savannah Morning Herald, rumpled and groggy from having been awakened so suddenly, his composing sticks clattering as he set a sensational new headline for the morning edition.
The officer checked the lock and moved on. She pressed her fingertips to her throbbing head and swallowed the tears building in her throat, wishing desperately for someone to guide and protect her. Someone to take charge of this awful misunderstanding and set her world to rights again.
In the cell next to hers, two women began a loud, drunken argument made all the more unbearable by the overwhelming stench of unwashed bodies, spirits, and stale coffee that hung like fog in the dank, chilly air.
The noise abated as the night wore on, and the singing and shouting gave way to snoring as prisoners succumbed to the effects of custody and too much alcohol. India barely moved from her mattress as the hours crawled toward morning. Eventually she rose and crossed her cell to the door. By pressing her cheek to the cold iron bars and craning her neck, she caught a glimpse of gray daylight.
Father had often reminded her that every situation seemed less daunting in the light of a new day, and now, as she watched a flock of sparrows winging past a high, dusty window glimmering with frost, she felt a surge of hope. All she had to do was explain to the magistrate or the judge or whoever was in charge of such matters exactly what had transpired during last night's performance at the Southern Palace Theater. Surely he would see that she was not to blame.
At the far end of the hallway, a door opened and a policeman came in on a blast of frigid air. India patted her curly hair into place and brushed at the dried blood still clinging to the ruffled skirt of her costume. The arresting officer had hustled her from the stage to this dank and sorry place without allowing her even five minutes to wipe away her stage makeup or to change into her own clothes. She felt grimy from head to toe. She could imagine the streaks on her face from where the greasepaint had run. Not exactly the image she wanted to present to the authorities.
The officer paused before her cell door and fumbled with a set of keys. Iron-gray hair peeked from beneath his cap. The brass buttons on his uniform gleamed dully in the lambent light.
"India Hartley?" His breath smelled of coffee and sleep.
"Yes." She rotated her shoulders, hoping to ease the throbbing at the back of her neck.
He swung open the door and immediately caught her wrist in a viselike grip strong as any manacle. "Come with me."
* * *
The Previous Evening
Her carriage rocked along the street, headed for the theater. India settled into the plush velvet seat and watched the crowds of Christmas shoppers coming and going from stores decorated with wreaths of greenery. At Madame Louis's hair salon, an elaborate poster invited ladies to come in for styles of the highest art. Flyers offering children's toys, European fashions, and grand action pianos fluttered from shop windows illuminated by gaslight.
At the corner of Drayton and Congress, the carriage paused for a man and a small girl crossing the street, their arms laden with packages from Thomas Bateson's store. At the sight of them, India felt a fresh sting of loneliness. For most of her life, she and Father had lived alone, traveling from London to Philadelphia and then Boston, where he managed various theater companies before finally organizing his own. He had recognized her talent and her instinctual understanding of how the theater worked, and groomed her for a life on the stage. But he had failed to teach her anything about how to survive in a harsh and indifferent world.
Father had not been the most skillful of managers. India supported him more often than the other way around. But she never doubted his love for her. He was the touchstone that kept her grounded, and when she lost him she lost the everyday contentment she had taken for granted.
Upon his untimely death, she discovered they were nearly broke and her interest in the Classic Theater Touring Company had been taken over by an unscrupulous manager she'd once trusted. After months of scraping by on next to nothing, she arranged a ten-week tour as a visiting actress to theaters in Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans. What would become of her after the tour finished was something she did not let herself think about.
"Here we are, Miss Hartley." The young driver opened the carriage door and extended a gloved hand to assist her as she exited.
When she paused to straighten her hat, he fumbled in his pocket for a scrap of paper and a pencil.
"Would you mind?" He thrust the paper and pencil into her hands. "I mean, I know it's an awful imposition, but my little sister reveres you. It sure would be the best Christmas present ever for her to have your signature."
"Of course." India took the paper and pencil. "What plays of mine has she seen?"
"Oh, we can't afford the theater. But she reads about you in the ladies' magazines she gets from the circulating library. She tries to style her hair like yours. I reckon just about every girl in Savannah wants India Hartley curls." He watched as she fished a carte de visite from her reticule. "She tries to talk like she's from London, too, when she thinks nobody is listening. But I don't reckon the Queen's English mixes too well with our way of speaking."
India scribbled her signature on the back of the photograph — made at Mr. Sarony's New York studio — and pressed it into his hand. "Present this at the theater tonight. I'll have two tickets waiting for you and your sister."
He gaped at her. "You mean it? We're goin' to the Southern Palace?"
India smiled. "You are indeed. The curtain is at eight. Don't be late."
"Well, I sure ... I won't. I mean, thank you, Miss Hartley. Thank you so much. Just wait till I tell Mary. She won't believe it."
He climbed up and flicked the reins. The carriage moved along the crowded street and disappeared around the corner.
Lifting her skirts to avoid the mud and horse droppings littering the street, India hurried to the stage door on the narrow alley and entered the deserted theater.
On the lower level, a long hallway ran the length of the building. Here were dressing rooms, the property room, and the manager's office. At the opposite end of the corridor, a spiral staircase led upward to the stage. At this early hour she was alone in the dimly lit space, but she didn't mind the solitude or the chill seeping through the walls. She and her father had made a habit of arriving at the theater early. She liked having plenty of time to get into costume and quiet her mind, focusing on the story she was about to tell.
A loud crash from above and a man's shouted curse sent her rushing up the staircase and into the theater wings. Riley Quinn, the young assistant to the stage manager, was sitting on the floor, an overturned ladder at his side. In his hands was a large mirror framed in black. He startled when he saw her, then scrambled to his feet.
"Mr. Quinn, are you all right?"
"Yes, ma'am, Miss Hartley. I didn't mean to disturb you. I was just puttin' up this mirror in that far corner, so as to cast more light downstage." He gestured to the corner where a flame torch sat next to a large block of lime. During the performance the lime would be heated to incandescence. Mirrors and gaslights installed along the sides of the stage would provide illumination far more powerful than the candles of old. "I reckon Mr. Sterling will have a harder time keepin' you in the shadows now."
India nodded. Apparently her leading man's ungenerous actions on opening night had not gone unnoticed by the stage crew.
"It wasn't fair, what he done," Quinn went on. "He may be Savannah born and bred, but he sure didn't act like a gentleman last night. Folks can see him in a play most all the time. But it ain't often we get someone of your stature around here. And I for one am mortified by his behavior." Quinn indicated the mirror. "This'll fix him, though, don't you worry."
India returned to the lower level of the theater and entered her dressing room. Larger than most, it had space for a comfortable chair, a dressing table and mirror, hooks for holding her costumes, and a wig stand. She removed her cloak and draped it over a chair, then picked up the script she'd left behind after opening night. Suspicion was the work of Jackson Morgan, a local playwright who had attended every rehearsal and was not shy about shouting stage directions to the actors charged with bringing his tale of mystery and betrayal to life. His behavior had not set well with the Southern Palace's actor-manager, Cornelius Philbrick, or with the leading man, beloved local thespian Arthur Sterling.
India flipped through the script, rereading the notes she'd penciled into the margins, and felt her old excitement returning. For all of its hardships — uncomfortable travel, fleabag hotels, shady managers, vicious critics — a life in the theater was the only one she could imagine for herself. Something magical happened when the curtain parted and she stepped into the circle of light, transformed into a wholly different person, able with her words to move an audience to laughter or tears. Father had often reminded her that fame was as insubstantial as smoke, blown this way and that. And she knew the day would come when audiences withdrew their affection for her and gave it to someone newer, younger, and she would become a footnote. But she had never been interested in being famous. All she wanted was to bring something of beauty into the world and to understand why people sometimes behaved in ways that seemed at odds with who they really were.
Footsteps sounded in the hallway. India rose and went to the door.
"Miss Hartley." Cornelius Philbrick removed his hat and blew on his hands to warm them. "Getting chilly outside."
"Is it? I hadn't really noticed."
He stepped into her dressing room without an invitation. "I'm glad you're here. I want to talk to you about a change in the script."
She frowned. "I don't think Mr. Morgan will approve."
"Any playwright worth his salt knows to expect changes. Morgan understands as well as anyone that words that seem fine on the page sometimes fail to work when spoken aloud."
"Of course. But I must confess I'm not comfortable with last-minute changes. I'd prefer to wait until we can at least rehearse them."
Philbrick's fleshy face went red. "There's no time to rehearse. This afternoon I learned that Richard Thayer will be here this evening," he said, naming the region's most important critic. "He is most fond of plays with an unexpected twist. I have nothing against Mr. Morgan, but you must admit for a play called Suspicion, it's rather tame."
"That depends upon how it's interpreted, don't you think?"
"Are you saying my performance last night was not up to par?"
"Not at all. I think you've done a remarkable job of making a small role seem large. I know from having watched my father juggle the roles of actor and manager that it isn't easy to do both jobs well. But I think you ought to have more confidence in my abilities. And in those of Mr. Sterling."
"I've got plenty of confidence in you. But around here the theatergoing public wants sensation. I aim to give them what they want." Mr. Philbrick pinned her with a stern look. "I'm quite aware of your loyal following. A person can't pick up a magazine without reading India Hartley this and India Hartley that. Even the Savannah Rose Society has named a rose after you. Did you know that?"
"No, but I'm flattered."
"None of that matters, though. I'm sure you know that in the world of the theater, the manager's word is law." He pulled a sheet of crumpled paper from his pocket and smoothed it out. "Now, at the end of the first act, when you are supposed to throw a vase at the head of Mr. Sterling, I want you to — well, here. I reckon you can read it for yourself."
She scanned the page and stared at him, incredulous. "You're suggesting that I pretend to shoot him? I'm afraid it's quite impossible without —"
He silenced her with a frown and jabbed a finger at the page. "And then at the beginning of act two, just here, Sterling's line will be changed to —"
"I'm sorry. I can't do it. Not this evening."
"You can and you will, or I will replace you with the understudy. Miss Bryson is chomping at the bit to make her mark. If you don't intend to cooperate, I can see to it that she gets that chance."
Though inside she trembled with indignation, India forced herself to appear calm. If her father were in the lead role, Mr. Philbrick would never dare suggest such a drastic change. Especially without a rehearsal. What if something went wrong? She handed the paper back to him. "I don't want to seem immodest, but the patrons of the Southern Palace have come to see me. Not an unknown understudy."
"The audience will be sympathetic when I announce that you've taken ill." The theater manager dropped the paper onto her dressing table. "When you come to your senses, the stage will be yours again."
"Has Mr. Sterling been informed of this change?"
Mr. Philbrick took a revolver from his pocket. "Here's your prop."
India studied the weapon, pressing a hand to her midsection to quell her nerves.
"It's quite harmless," Mr. Philbrick said, "as it has no firing pin. You needn't worry about anything apart from making the shot look real." He let out a short laugh. "After Sterling's attempts to steal the limelight last night, I should think you'd enjoy the chance to even the score. Metaphorically speaking, of course."
"I'll see that the gun is delivered to the stage for you. And please do try to wipe the frown off that lovely face of yours."
He pocketed the prop and clumped along the hallway, his steps fading as he reached the spiral stair. India collapsed onto a chair, torn between anger and despair. The loss of her father's theater company had left her with few resources and an uncertain future. As maddening as this last-minute change was, she couldn't afford to give up even a single night's pay.
Excerpted from A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love. Copyright © 2015 Dorothy Love. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have mixed feelings about this one- there are a lot of things I liked and enjoyed, but also a handful of things that didn't work for me. The Southern setting and history of the era was well-described and fascinating, I really liked India's character and personality, and the plot was intriguing. I had a difficult time with Phillip- he was so likeable and quite heroic, but at times he pulled back and there was a lack of emotion. The story is told from India's point of view, and I think more cues to how he was feeling in those moments would have helped the romance not be so awkward. The pacing didn't feel smooth to me, with scenes ending in the middle of observations and conversations that felt important but not resolved- in the moment or later. The climax of the outcome of the trial was satisfying, but then more clues kept cropping up, and it seemed like the story would never end as one secret after another came to light and had to be additionally resolved. And then in the end, there was one left hanging! So it was a bit frustrating to feel like the story was winding up, only to have in prolonged with more choppy pacing. I definitely enjoyed the first half of the book more, but had to keep reading to see how it all turned out. A more succinct wrapping up would have been appreciated. (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
This is the first book I've read by Dorothy Love, and I loved it! India Hartley is a famous actress, who embarks upon a tour of theaters. The first city she stops in is Savannah, and on the second night of her performance, her co-star is shot dead in front of a full audience. India immediately goes from the star performer to being arrested. A raving fan and benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best lawyer in Savannah, to defend India. India travels to St Simon's Island to Philip's worn-out plantation in order to stay away from the media while he prepares her defense. While on the island, India uncovers numerous long-kept secrets. Could these secrets possibly set her free? I loved the settings of the book, and thought the action moved at a steady pace. While somewhat predictable, there were a few twists I didn't expect at all. I wish the theme of Christianity was more prominent; there were several missed opportunities to reveal Christ's redemption and forgiveness. Overall, I enjoyed it very much, and would like to know more of India and Philip's story. I received a free copy of this book from the Thomas-Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review, which I have provided.
The first few chapters of A Respectable Actress really captured my attention, especially because I love anything set within this time period (1870). However, once I read past the initial events that set the stage for the story, I found the book to be extremely slow and seriously considered not finishing it. Then surprisingly the plot picked up again and I couldn't put it down. But by the end, I couldn't wait for it to be over and it was anticlimactic. I found the main character, India Hartley, to be boring and predictable but enjoyed reading the storyline that involved Celia Mackay. I would not reading this book again but would consider reading The Bracelet by this author as it pertains to the character of Celia Mackay. Thank you to Thomas Nelson & Zondervan's Fiction Guild for a complimentary copy of the novel.
India Hartley has performed as an actress all over the world. She performs at Savannah's prestigious Southern Palace Theater. One night a horrible murder takes place on stage and India is charged with her fellow actor's death and booked at Savannah's Chatham County Jail. A wealthy benefactor, Mrs. Celia Mackay believes in India's innocence and hires a reputable lawyer, Phillip Sinclair to defend India. Due to Ms. Hartley's high profile case, Mr. Sinclair receives permission to take her to his plantation on St. Simons Island to avoid prying eyes. India soon becomes acquainted to life at Indigo Point as Phillip works to build a strong case to defend her. Phillip's sister Amelia befriends India. Somethings and some people at Indigo Point do not make sense and the further India digs, the more tangled things become. Phillip and India slowly become very important to each other. Her trial begins and does not go well. Her life quickly unravels when Phillip's dead wife returns. There are many twists and turns in this book. I really enjoyed this book.
This is the first book I have read by Dorothy Love. I received a free copy of this book to review. My opinion is my own. I really enjoyed this book. The main characters were very realistic. India is accused of murder and Philip is in charge of defending her. I enjoyed getting to know India and her story. This book really kept my attention the whole time. I also like the romance in this book as well as the historical aspects of this book. I would read another book by Dorothy Love.
Actress India Hartley is in heaps of trouble when it appears that she has shot and killed her co-star on stage during a performance. She cries innocence, but will anyone believe her? I found this book to be mysterious and intriguing. India’s plight to prove her innocence is no easy feat. With such a public case, how can her lawyer possibly prove that the blame does not lie with his client? Philip’s story is more of a secondary role in the novel, but I found myself more interested in what made him tick, and enjoyed discovering his backstory. This wasn’t a favorite for me, but is a good book for fans of mysteries. *I received this book from Thomas Nelson Zondervan Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.*
"A Respectable Actress" by Dorothy Love is a stand alone novel, and the first one that I have read by this author. I received it from the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild, who sent me "The Girl From the Train". I really enjoyed this book! Two for two, Fiction Guild! Mainly, it was an intriguing mystery in historical setting, but there is a little bit of romance thrown in. I appreciated that it wasn't predictable, and had many plot twists that were creative. India Hartley (what a cool name!) is an actress on tour with a company since her own father's company went bankrupt. The tour was performing Savannah, Georgia at the time when her co-worker was shot onstage, and she became a top suspect. Philip Sinclair is the lawyer hired to defend India in her case, but he has a history of his own. After his unhappy wife's death, he has worked to build his law practice and rebuild his plantation on St. Simon's Island. I loved the history in this story, especially in regards to the setting of Savannah and St. Simon's. I was also really drawn to India's character, and found myself rooting for her innocence to win out in court. The plot didn't become slow at any point for me, and nearly every chapter ended with a cliff-hanger (which is a little annoying, but does at least keep you reading), even though many of them were false alarms. Overall, I would totally recommend this book, and might even read it again. This makes a great Christmas present. Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for picking out this book for me to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and all opinions are my own.
The story opens in Savannah, Georgia in late 1870, where India Hartley is performing on her own after losing her father. The highly regarded and famous actress is preparing to go onstage when the director demands that she make a last minute change- using a stage gun to shoot Arthur Sterling, the city’s most loved actor, rather than throw a vase at him. When the shot rings out, Arthur collapses and dies and India is drawn into a mystery. Why did the gun have real bullets? Who prompted the change? And how will India be able to convince a judge of her innocence in the death of their city’s favorite actor? After a night in the jail, India is released to Philip Sinclar, a widowed lawyer who is hired by a wealthy local woman to represent her. Sinclair arranges to have India removed from the area to his plantation on Indigo Point, where she will be out of the eyes of the reporters who are eager to find her. Sinclair hopes to be able to make enough money to rebuild his plantation home which had been neglected and partially destroyed during the war. There, India quickly finds that the island holds a mystery of its own and she is drawn into intrigue once again. The story begins to twist as India is attracted to Philip and then is rebuffed by his staff. Ms. Love continues to introduce intrigue and weave mystery around the characters as the story unfolds. I find her writing to be fresh and the historical references add to the enjoyment of this book
This is the first book I have read by Dorothy Love and I have to say that I am now a fan. This story was full of twists and turns that kept the story running at a fairly good pace for me. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the characters and I was impressed at the details that were provided, they were well laid out and exact. As a fan of historical fiction I am always on the lookout for precise information about the era and the location that is being spoken of. I believe that this story held as much fact as it did fiction, and I approve! The location, Indigo Point, sounds absolutely lovely as well as full of shadowy mystery; a wonderful backdrop for a historical tale. I enjoyed India Hartley so very much. She was a tough cookie from the get-go and I think that she was superbly written. Her stength throughout the story was a nice change from the wimpy girls from other tales. She had her moments of weakness (and injury) but nonetheless, her strength of character was refreshing for me. When her weaknesses were shown, they were also placed along side the fact that God is the one we should lean on, not our own strengths. Well done! A story that make you curious as to the outcome, therefore making it very difficult to put down. An exciting read, one that is more than just adventure, it is intelligent and intriguing as well. Dorothy Love has a new fan and I cannot wait to read more from her! * I received this book for free from TNZ Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest opinion and review. No other compensation was given. *
I really enjoyed the pacing of A Respectable Actress. It flowed very smoothly as I read it. I also enjoyed the mysterious, deep-south feeling of this book. The author did a very good job at describing the scenery and making me feel that I was really back in early 1870’s Georgia. This time period and the setting of post war St. Simons Island, with its wide variety of residents, added a mysterious quality to the story that enhanced the feeling of restlessness that flowed throughout the book. The main characters, India and Philip, were very likable. It was hard to watch as India was accused of murder. And I was amazed at the speed with which the trial progressed. This story, with its secretive twists and turns, kept my attention from start to finish. I thought that the author did a very good job of dropping surprises here and there for the reader and creating a plot that was not easily solved because of the many players involved. Add in a bit of a sweet romance that began to brew in the midst of uncertainty and desperation, and I found A Respectable Actress to be a very enjoyable and mysterious read. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A historical romance and a murder mystery, what’s not to love? A Respectable Actress captured my attention from the beginning, and I remained intrigued until the very end. Well-crafted characters, fascinating historical details, and unexpected twists and turns kept me eagerly turning the pages of this captivating tale. I thoroughly enjoyed India and Philip’s story and can’t wait to read more from this talented author! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts expressed are my own.
A RESPECTABLE ACTRESS by Dorothy Love is a cozy mystery romance between a young actress named India Hartley and her benefactor/lawyer Philip Sinclair. The story is told through the India's point of view. I truly enjoyed the southern theater setting which was well researched and nicely detailed, lending a nice flavor to the tale. A nicely complicated mystery weaves itself throughout with plenty of plot twists and turns that kept me eager to find out what happened next. A nice sized cast of colorful characters adds plenty of interest and some red herrings to the story. And of course, the ending was nicely satisfying, tying up all the loose ends and providing all the answers that ran through my mind as I read. This is more than a simple mystery or love story. It is a novel about risk and trust, betrayal and honesty, and plenty of love and redemption. Nicely crafted and a lovely story! Highly recommended.
This month’s book theme for me seems to be historical fiction with widowers who had less than happy marriages to their first wives. Considering the context and the time period, this probably happened often. I’m just amused how some months my reading seems to have a theme. But really, when you enjoy the books, there’s really nothing to complain about, right? respectable actress cover Famed actress India Hartley is in Savannah, GA to begin a tour of theaters in the southern US. On her second night on stage, a tragedy occurs, and India is accused of murdering her co-star. She so stunned by the accusations and the events, she hardly notices the man who a benefactor hired as her lawyer. Philip Sinclair’s law practice must succeed so he can restore his plantation home on St. Simon’s Island. In order to escape the public outcry, Philip convinces the judge to let him take India to his home, Indigo Point, until the trial date. Many parts and people of Georgia are struggling after the war, and St. Simon’s is no exception. The people of the island are surviving but Philip wants to create something to bring jobs and money to his island’s economy. Once ensconced at Indigo Point, India tries to settle in. But mystery seems to follow her. There seems to be a shrine to someone in Philip’s home that India is kept out of, the people of the town have their own opinions of her, and, while she feels comforted in the presence of her lawyer, she’s quickly falling in love with him and fears what the future may bring (whether that be death by gallows or a life without theater or Philip). Dorothy Love’s tale is told from only India’s perspective so the reader is left guessing at Philip’s thoughts and feelings right along with India. As they mystery weaves together, it’s a little convoluted but in the end, all of the moving parts come together for a satisfying conclusion. And reading about the theater during this time period was interesting and educational. It was enjoyable reading the story from the actress’s eyes. ***The Fiction Guild provided them with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.
A Reluctant Actress. By Dorothy Love It is 1870 Christmas time in Savannah, Georgia and actress India Hartley is on a ten-week tour through parts of the South. Her desire is to show society that there was a respectable side of acting. She also desperately needs to find a way to make a living doing what she loves on her own since her father passed away. During her performance in Savannah, fellow actor Mr. Sterling drops to the stage from a gun shot that appears to have come from the prop gun in her hand. Immediately India is whisked away by the police as a suspect in the shooting of Mr. Sterling. "I have nothing to hide," India tells the police. "This is merely a grave misunderstanding." An inquest is held and while there it is discovered that Mr. Sterling died and the gun that killed him was India's own personal gun! India must stand trial. As a stranger in town she is surprised when handsome lawyer, Phillip Sinclair is retained by a benefactor to represent her. Dorothy Love depicts Reconstruction Era Georgia beautifully. Her words assemble to make detailed pictures in the reader's mind. She creates an intriguing and delightful story of murder, romance, and intrigue. Travel back in time and enjoy Dorothy Love's A Respectable Actress. I was given this book in exchange for an honest review
With a very intriguing plot, this book definitely started off with a bang. Literally! ;) Talk about a gripping first page! I was instantly drawn into the setting and onto the stage with the actress, our heroine, India. Curious to see how it all played out, I kept reading and was surprised to see how it all unfolded. I think many readers will enjoy the suspense and drama of this historical tale. What I missed from the story, though, was a real bond and connection with the characters. I really liked India and Phillip, but I didn’t fully understand them either. I was left wishing I knew them a bit better. The story is entirely told from India’s perspective, which isn’t bad, but I missed not reading and knowing Phillip’s perspective of things. It left me in the dark at times, along with India, as to how he felt or what he was thinking. I wanted more of their love story, but maybe that’s just me and my silly romantic heart. ;) On the other hand, there were several strengths of this story as well. For one, the setting is very rich in historical influences. I love this time period in the South. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and the scenes of the trial, especially. Wow! So much of it was unique and different than other stories and I appreciated that. Overall, it was a fun and interesting read. Check it out and enjoy! This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and the TNZ Fiction Guild for my copy.
I enjoy reading historical fiction based on the true lives of others. Through a little romance into the mix and you have me hooked. Author Dorothy Love creates the perfect “damsel in distress” through her main character, India. Beautiful and used to captivating large audiences through her stage performances, India must now place her trust in a perfect stranger when she is accused of murder. Philip Sinclair, lawyer extraordinaire, will have to decide if he can trust India with his own dark secrets. There are enough secrets, suspense, and twisty turns to keep a reader glued to their seat as they fly through the pages to see what happens next. A book well worth reading. I just might have to check out what other books this author has to offer. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
First thoughts: This was a difficult one for me to rate because parts were really good but some of it was just mediocre. The mystery was interesting, but the romance fell a little short to me. I didn't feel like there was really a reason for the main characters to be falling in love. The historical look into the theater world and the trial were interesting enough to make up for any other shortcomings. The story had enough twists to keep me wondering. Plot: Actress India Hartley's co-star is stealing the limelight and making enemies. When he's shot in the middle of the play and it appears India is the culprit, it's up to lawyer Philip Sinclair to keep her from going to prison. Philip needs time to prepare a defense, so he takes India to his plantation on Saint Simon's Island. While there, India realizes that Philip and his servants all have secrets. As everything comes together, India's life becomes endangered as clearly the real murderer doesn't want to be found. Recommendation: I'd recommend this story to those who enjoy historical and mystery. This was the first I've read from Dorothy Love and I'll be looking for more of her books. Rating: 3.5/5 stars I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I was blessed with this book by Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. This is my first book by Dorothy Love. I really liked it!! I couldn't put it down, couldn't turn the pages fast enough and it had great twists and turns. I read all night and didn't put it down until I was done. This book kept me intrigued. There where so many mysterious things happening at once, but I never got the plot confused. Every time I thought the story was done, because everything had happened I was wrong. The next page brought more twists and turns and something else I didn't see coming. I really enjoyed all the characters in this book. I really loved India, she is strong , genuine and friendly. I highly recommend this book, it is well written and easy to follow.
** “Relief, regret, and hope warred inside her. What a joy it would be to wake up without the prospect of another disaster crowding her thoughts.” ** It’s 1870 and Dorothy Love’s “A Respectable Actress” opens with a literal bang as gunfire erupts at the Southern Palace Theater in Savannah. The city’s beloved actor, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead and renowned traveling actress India Hartley is quickly blamed. A stranger in the quaint Georgia city, India surprisingly finds help from Celia Mackay, a character from Ms. Love’s former novel “The Bracelet,” who hires the dashing Philip Sinclair to act as India’s lawyer. What follows is a novel full of twists and turns — both relating to India’s case and storylines from the characters’ personal lives. Ms. Love does a great job filling the plot with surprises that keep the reader guessing and throwing in plotlines the reader will never see coming. “Actress” is filled with many great characters. Besides India, Philip and Celia, there’s Philip’s beloved sister Amelia; the quirky girls India meets on St. Simons Island, including former slave Binah; the strange and elusive Mrs. Catchpole; and India’s fellow theater workers. (Interesting tidbit, there is also an Alicia, so the author must have a thing for names ending in -ia). Ms. Love tackles many themes throughout the story, including taking chances, having faith in each other, deception and duplicity, love, betrayal and courage. “A Respectable Actress” was a great historical fiction novel, with a little romance, a little mystery and suspense, and a whole lot of a thrill. Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Part Gone with the Wind, part Sherlock Holmes, this book by Dorothy Love was more than a "respectable" read. Set in late 19th century Savannah and St. Simons Island, the story of actress India Hartley and her quest to clear her name after she is charged with murder is a page-turning adventure. India and Philip Sinclair, the lawyer hired by a benefactor to defend her, seek to find the truth about the murder. In the meantime, their acquaintance becomes a friendship with potential for more, until India uncovers clues to secrets that could make sense of Philip's past. This was my first Dorothy Love book. (I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my review.) I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and could not predict how it would end. The romantic storyline is not an overwhelming part of the book but adds just the right amount of drama.
Dorothy Love’s new book A Respectable Actress starts quite literally with a shot in the dark, which leaves our heroine India struggling to comprehend how a simple acting job could end with her facing a murder charge and needing the assistance of a skilled and talented lawyer with secrets of his own. For India a simple yet strange request to make a last minute change to the rehearsed script and the addition of a supposed gun prop, leaves India’s less than friendly co-stars in a pool of blood and her holding the smoking gun. Arrested and charged with his murder, she is bailed to stay on her new lawyer’s plantation but Indigo Point is not all it’s at first appears to be and will test India’s bravery and power’s of deduction. On the whole I enjoyed A Respectable Actress, but there were a few times i found myself saying, “What just happened . . . . hang on . . . etc”. There were a few leaps in narrative and more than one mystery to solve. The main mystery for example is wrapped up at two thirds into the book which did leave a little truncated feel to the story. The main hero also flittered in and out of the story at times and I found it a little hard to really get a grips with his character. Overall a solid read and worth of a afternoon spend enjoying the historical detail and Bronte like twists of this unique tale.. I received a free book from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan Fiction Guild in return for an honest review.
I found this to be a solidly entertaining historical novel with repeating themes from Love's book The Bracelet, (you can find my review here) -- characters never being sure of who to trust and showstopper scenes that seem to come at you from nowhere, but in a good way! Also carried over from The Bracelet, though A Respectable Actress is not necessarily considered a sequel, are the characters Celia & Sutton McKay. FYI for those who have read The Bracelet, this book takes place about 10 years after the close of that novel. Dorothy Love definitely has a talent for capturing the feel of life in the South, and I really enjoy how her stories bring to life actual events and people from the past perhaps largely forgotten now. For A Respectable Actress and the main character India Hartley, Love pulled from the life of real life 19th century British stage actress Fanny Kemble. What struck me as kind of humorous was to first read the scene where India is offered a chance to meet Fanny Kemble, and then see in the author's note afterward that Kemble's life was the inspiration for India's character. Almost bordering on meta there! I think my very favorite line in the whole novel was one character's response to another character apologizing: "Words don't cook rice." Perfect response when you have a insincere, half-hearted apology lobbed at you!
A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love, is a book set in the 19th-century post civil-war era about India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, and Philip Sinclair, a widowed lawyer--the best one in Savannah, GA. Philip and India meet after India is falsely accused of murdering her co-star during their stage production. One of her loyal benefactors, pays for India to be defended by Philip. Philip agrees because of the potential clients he will reap from a successful defense in this highly publicized case...and he needs the money since he's trying to pump life into his family's worn down plantation on St. Simon's Island. In order to protect India from the mobs of people trying to get her in town, Philip gets the judge to let him take India home with him until her trial date. What follows is a rich story of mystery, lost loves, and oh so many secrets. Secrets which when revealed could very well hold the key to India's freedom. At first, I wasn't sure how I would like it. It didn't sound highly thrilling, and Dorothy Love isn't an author I am very familiar with. But I adore St. Simon's Island and the Georgia low country and was interested in the location the book takes place in. I was surprised that I really was enthralled from the get-go! There was no lag time to set up the story--something that makes my eyes glaze over at times. I liked that the plot started immediately! I think the plot was interesting and multi-faceted. There was a primary story, but then a background storyline continuing throughout the plot--coming to a climax when both plots join each other! I think India is a good character, though I probably would have enjoyed a bit more about her backstory. It's scattered here and there, but you sort of have to piece it together. The same is true for Phillip. But it doesn't really take away from the story... I was bummed to learn this book has characters in it from an earlier book The Bracelet by Dorothy Love. I hate reading books out of order...but I don't think it would have made one iota of difference in the story because they weren't even really supporting characters in this book. (But it did make me want to make sure I snag The Bracelet so I can read about the characters in more detail.) Who was my favorite character? India. I thought her story of being an actress in a time when they were considered to be less than respectable was creative. She was spunky and fun. I enjoyed watching her story play out to the very end. I didn't hate the book. I liked the book. I thought it was a good book. It has suspense and mystery. But, I think it was really just average for me personally. I don't know that I would recommend it to my friends as being a "you have to read this", but if they asked I would tell them it was a good story. Would I read a book by Dorothy Love again? Yes. But I probably won't pick this one up again because I didn't LOVE it.
I'm not going to lie to you - I'm not a fan of historical reading. When I first received this book, I wasn't really sure how much I was expecting to enjoy it. First, I had never read anything by Dorothy Love before and the title really made me unsure what the book might be about; and second, it looked like one of those "period pieces". I'm very happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. This novel is set in 1870 Georgia. Accused of the shooting death of her leading man on the stage of Savannah’s Southern Palace theater, famed actress India Hartley is sequestered at Indigo Point, the St Simons Island home of her defense attorney Philip Sinclair. For me this book was a "quick read" as I sped through the pages getting to the outcome of the jury. A Respectable Actress is a well written book and does take care of wrapping up all the loose ends. For mystery and suspense fans, this book is highly recommended. There were some plot twists to the murder and mystery as well, and it was enough to keep me guessing. I will admit that like others, I was a bit surprised to find that this book was published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company, but I didn't find a "faith message". Further, the main character of the story really doesn't have faith in God, and the only time church is brought up is when it is used as an opportunity for India to discuss possible business. I believe some Christian themes such as hope and faith should have been added, especially given the fact that themes like murder and suicide are contained within the story. This book was definitely a worthwhile read, and from what I understand, several characters from Ms. Love’s other book, The Bracelet, are included in this novel so that fans of The Bracelet will find this continued story of Celia Browning Mackay interesting. I received this book without cost as part of the Fiction Guild Team Challenge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
When I first received this book in the mail, I wasn't really sure about it. I had never read anything by Dorothy before and the title really made me unsure what the book might be about. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. This book had so much going on in it, I couldn't put it down. I was constantly turning pages to see what was happening next. There are so many mysterious things happening that I wanted to know more, but I never got confused with the plot or what was going on. On several occasions, as I read something would happen and I would think, "Ok, the story is done. What else could there be?" Then I would turn the page and there would be another big twist. I enjoyed all the different characters in the book. India was a great main character. She isn't one of those swoony, whiney types. She is strong and yet very kind and friendly. All of the characters are well written with some being very bold and almost frightening. With all of the twists and turns, you might think it would be hard to follow. The opposite is actually the case. The book did start out with a lot of detail but keep reading it is definitely worth it. A fantastic book you will not want to put down. A Respectable Actress is worth the read! I was blessed with a copy of this book by the Fiction Guild in exchange for my review. A positive review was not required.