What Passes as Love by Trisha R. Thomas

Happy Publishing Day! This title is available as of today (September 1)


Dahlia is the child of a slave and Lewis Holt, the owner of the Vesterville plantation. She never knows her mother, and at six is torn from the only life she has known, to be taken up to the big house to live. Dahlia’s fair skin color affords her many luxuries that other children of slaves do not have, and in this book it affords her the chance to run away, and to live under the pretense of being a white woman.

She manages to accomplish this when she meets Timothy, a young Englishman in town, who seems sweet and kind, and offers to make Dahlia his wife. She is whisked away, assumes the new identity of Lily Dove, and lives as the lady of the manor, alongside her husband and his family.

Dahlia’s childhood friend, Bo, is blamed for her disappearance and sold into the slave market, eventually making his way to the manor where Dahlia lives. Her marriage is not a conventional one, and leaves her feeling lonely. Meanwhile, Lewis Holt is determined to find his property and bring her back, offering a substantial bounty.

My thoughts:

This story gives us the heart wrenching portrayal of a woman who fits in nowhere. She is not comfortable masquerading as a white woman, yet has never fully been accepted as a black woman either.

Historical fiction is not my usual preferred genre of reading, however I found myself finishing this book in one sitting, as the various characters revealed their true natures and the story took turns that I didn’t expect. I was mesmerized by Dahlia’s story and horrified along with her by the treatment of the people who she claims as her own. All the while, Dahlia needed to act unaffected by the things she heard about and saw.

Dahlia is one of those characters that I love to read. She is flawed, she is oftentimes naive, and she shows an immense amount of growth as she learns through her life experiences. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a atypical love story, or who enjoys historical fiction.

Thank you to Netgalley, to Trisha R. Thomas, Lake Union Publishing, and Jennifer Richards for gifting me an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. 

I’ll be reviewing this book on the 3 Book Girls podcast that airs September 6th. If you’d like to check it out, there is a link on my home page!

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