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A Respectable Actress ~ Review

A Respectable Actress
by Dorothy Love

India Hartley's whole life has been the theater.  Traveling both abroad in Europe and at home in the United States.  She has just launched a tour of theaters across the South when, in Savannah, the unthinkable happens.  A last minute change in the play ends in the lead actor's death and India's arrest for murder.

As single woman, in a less than respected profession, what chance does India have at a fair trial? When a benefactor arranges for India to be represented by Philip Sinclair, she at least has hope that she may survive her visit to Savannah.  But all the evidence and witness testimony, though circumstantial, seems to point directly at India. 

While awaiting her trial India is allowed to travel to St. Simons Island under the protection of her lawyer.  But the Sinclair estate on Indigo Point seems to be guarding a secret - a secret which India seems determined to understand.  But Indigo Point guards its past carefully against outsiders and India is an outsider.  

The more India discovers the more she is convinced this has something to do with her own situation. But how a tragedy 5 years old could have a bearing on a recent murder is something India must determine before she is found guilty of murder.

I haven't read Dorothy Love's work before, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received this book from the Fiction Guild.  The cover, which is stunning, does this book proud and is the perfect introduction into what the reader is about to partake.  The writing style is exquisite, the story tantalizing, and the characters are real.  

Set after the Civil War Savannah is a city that is still in pain.  Lose of the life to which they were accustomed - wealth was gone, lives had been lost - had resulted in suspicion of any who weren't a native.  I find it interesting that many wanted to go to the theater, to be seen there and yet they held a high disdain for those who acted. 

My favorite line in the book comes from page 47 Anybody who collects books can't be all bad. Want to know more?  Read the book and add to your own collection.

I was provided a copy of this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Book:

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.

"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 the 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."