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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What Passes As Love

ISBN: 978-1542030601

Publisher: Lake Union

Pub Date: 09/01/2021

Format: e-book

My Rating: TBR

A young woman pays a devastating price for freedom in this heartrending and breathtaking novel of the nineteenth-century South.

1850. I was six years old the day Lewis Holt came to take me away.

Born into slavery, Dahlia never knew her mother―or what happened to her. When Dahlia’s father, the owner of Vesterville plantation, takes her to work in his home as a servant, she’s desperately lonely. Forced to leave behind her best friend, Bo, she lives in a world between black and white, belonging to neither.

Ten years later, Dahlia meets Timothy Ross, an Englishman in need of a wife. Reinventing herself as Lily Dove, Dahlia allows Timothy to believe she’s white, with no family to speak of, and agrees to marry him. She knows the danger of being found out. She also knows she’ll never have this chance at freedom again.

Ensconced in the Ross mansion, Dahlia soon finds herself held captive in a different way―as the dutiful wife of a young man who has set his sights on a political future. But when Bo arrives on the estate in shackles, Dahlia decides to risk everything to save his life. With suspicions of her true identity growing and a bounty hunter not far behind, Dahlia must act fast or pay a devastating price.


“Thomas’s (Un-nappily in Love, 2020) well-researched and compelling novel charts Dahlia’s complex journey of escape, reinvention, and self-acceptance. Fans of Alena Dillon and Lucinda Riley will be moved by this historical glimpse into a brutal time period. Not shying away from the cruelties of slavery, Thomas gives a voice to the enslaved by exploring the power of shared humanity and newfound courage.”


“The author really gets inside Dahlia’s head…She’s resourceful, a chance-taker who dreams and schemes until opportunities present themselves. It’s impossible not to root for her, however risky her actions.”

―Historical Novels Review

“In What Passes as Love, Trisha R. Thomas has…so brilliantly…written a powerful, thought-provoking, truly cinematic historical novel that will have you turning pages well into the wee hours of the morning. Her story is simply wonderful.”

―Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author of Casting the First Stone

“Another triumphant work of art by the incredibly prolific Ms. Thomas. What Passes as Love is a poetic, mesmerizing, deeply moving story that will pull you in and not let go…long after you’ve put the book down. A must-read by one of today’s most exciting authors.”

―Susan McMartin, author of Understanding the Fall and screenwriter of Mr. Church

“What Passes as Love is a rapid page-turner that will leave book lovers of any genre satisfied. Trisha R. Thomas weaves a literary tapestry that skillfully unmasks each character. Her protagonist, Dahlia Holt, takes readers on an unexpected pursuit of freedom, identity, and love. Bravo for a beautifully written account of courage, faith, and human spirit.”

―Norma L. Jarrett, bestselling author of Sunday Brunch and Sweet Magnolia

“Trisha R. Thomas’s What Passes as Love is a fiery story of romance, resilience, and resistance, even amidst the evils of slavery. In antebellum Virginia, her daring heroine, Dahlia Holt, enslaved and yearning for liberty, exploits the ignorance and lies of her captors to protect herself and her beloved. Her weapons? Beauty and deception, education and daring. Dahlia’s dazzling escapes, her selfless passion, her dogged determination, and the risks she takes for love and freedom will keep readers turning pages in suspense.”

―Kate Manning, author of My Notorious Life

“What Passes as Love is a remarkable story that paints a vivid picture of the antebellum South through the eyes of the courageous and relatable Dahlia Holt. She is a woman whose cunning and beauty allow her to hide in plain sight―within the folds of a society willing to sacrifice its own truths for pleasant appearances. Filled with realistic and picturesque details, I was transported into a sweeping narrative that read so much broader than historical fiction and commanded my attention even late into the night. I couldn’t stop reading. This was a story as complex as it was gorgeous―one of unconquerable love, of secrets and lies, of finding one’s voice and discovering meaning in a life worth the risk of freedom. Bravo, Trisha R. Thomas. Bravo!”

―Jayne Allen, author of Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

About the Author

Trisha R. Thomas has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine’s Books That Made a Difference. Her work has been featured and reviewed in Cosmopolitan, the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Essence, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Her debut novel, Nappily Ever After, is now a popular Netflix original film. She is also a reviewer for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Trisha is a recipient of the Literary Lion Award from the King County Library System Foundation, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, and was voted Best New Writer by the Black Writers Collective. For more information visit



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