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What Passes as Love: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2021

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.”

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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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 335 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1542030609
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1542030601
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
  • 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

Top reviews from the United States

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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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