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What Passes as Love: A Novel by [Trisha R. Thomas]

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What Passes as Love: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 11,077 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“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.” Booklist

“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

“The scribe who sold us on living Nappily Ever After turns her talents to historical fiction.” Essence

“Readers are transported to the South in 1850 in this emotional, richly drawn novel.” Woman’s World

“Thomas removes the focus from the white oppressor or white savior characters usually so popular in these stories, and concentrates on the actions and consciences of the Black heroine and ensemble.” Glamour

“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

From the Publisher

When author Trisha R. Thomas happened upon a historical photo of three enslaved sisters, she knew she’d found a story she needed to tell. From this picture she conjured the character Dahlia Holt, the mixed-race daughter of a plantation owner and one of the women he enslaved. Desperately lonely, Dahlia longs for family and freedom. Although she makes a daring escape by passing as white, every day she lives in constant fear of being found out, questioning if what she gave up was worth what she gained.

Dahlia’s story was difficult to write. Trisha says, “Delving into the history of separating families is not easy. There is an overwhelming feeling of loss that must be dealt with on the page and in the heart and mind.”

While we witness great suffering, ultimately this is a story of triumph over bigotry and brutality. And that’s what I love most about this book—throughout, Trisha has infused the novel with hope. This is a portrait of a woman determined to find freedom for herself and the ones she loves. It’s a rebuke to the legacy of slavery that continues to live on today. And it’s a rallying call for continued understanding, compassion, and action.

—Jodi Warshaw, Editor

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08VRSGGC9
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 1, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 6128 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 325 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 11,077 ratings

About the author

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Trisha R. Thomas is an award-winning author of literary fiction honored with the Literary Lion Award and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK. Nappily Ever After is a Netflix Original feature film. You can find her at

"Well-orchestrated...Thomas keeps the action flowing with short chapters...steamy sex, and root-forable characters."--Publishers Weekly

"Witty and endearing."--Spirit (Southwest Airlines) Magazine

"Lively and distinctive...Smartly paced, fast, and funny."--Kirkus Reviews

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
11,077 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

M. Dowden
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 2, 2021
17 people found this helpful
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2.0 out of 5 stars What passes for a novel these days.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 7, 2021
5 people found this helpful
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Tracie Webb
2.0 out of 5 stars Very unrealistic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 6, 2021
Sarah Festa
5.0 out of 5 stars A love story about freedom
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 13, 2021
2 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, but disappointingly abrupt ending
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 17, 2021
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