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.
I love coastal Georgia so it’s great to come across a novel set in two of my favorite places in the area. The premise also intrigued me: how could someone be accused of killing her co-star? Was she on or off stage when it happened? If she was on stage was she holding a gun that should have held blanks? The opening paragraphs didn’t answer my questions. It took several more pages to get an idea of what might have happened.
A Respectable Actress takes place just five years after the end of the Civil War, which is reflected throughout when describing – for example – the challenges faced by those on St. Simons Island. Many of the plantations are in disrepair, buildings were destroyed by both sides of the conflict, and not everyone is happy that their slaves are now free. Having an actress in their midst, and one that may be guilty of murder, is just one more thing about which to grumble. Readers with knowledge of St. Simon’s island will also recognize the historical names associated with the area throughout the novel.
The first half of the book focuses on India’s one month stay on the island before her trial. The second half deals with the trial and its aftermath. Here, the twists and turns become numerous with many players getting involved. Amazingly, all the strands of this intricately woven plot do come together and we get the ending that was presumed from the beginning. Overall, A Respectable Actress is an historical romantic suspense novel that’s sure to please other fans of the genre.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson for my complimentary copy of A Respectable Actress, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read A Respectable Actress? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 13 October 2015
Page Count: 384