Monday, March 11, 2013

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

When I signed up for the War Through the Generations challenge for this year, I knew that I was going to struggle to find books set in the American Revolution, but that's okay. It just means that you have to work a bit harder to complete the challenge. That doesn't mean to say that if a book that fits the criteria lands in your lap you don't say yes, so when I heard about this book I knew I was going to read it if only because of that. Fortunately, it sounded like a fascinating read too.

Kate Grey has been bought up in a Quaker family, but it is fair to say that hers wasn't a typical upbringing. Her father was a former soldier who converted to the faith for his wife and who has seen fit to ensure that his daughter is educated and has been freely allowed to share her opinions on many subjects that are not normally seen as womanly.When her father decides to join Washington to fight against the British, Kate is left to manage the household alone. Their home is on a major through road between New York and Philadelphia and it doesn't take long for some British troops to requisition the house. The leader, Major Lord Peter Tremayne, is carrying important plans regarding the invasion of Philadelphia. Kate feels an instant attraction to the man, and while at first he doesn't notice the Quaker miss, she is soon debating him on the finer points of military strategy and he is definitely paying attention, to the point where he plans to seduce the young lady. Unfortunately, while he is distracted by Kate, a rebel spy who happened to be staying there steals the papers, thereby implicating Kate in high treason and putting Peter in military disgrace, to the point where he could have been hanged.

Kate and the spy flee their home, never imagining that Kate won't be able to sit out the conflict in a safe home with her friends. Instead, she is drawn into the world of espionage and is recruited to gain entry into the inner circle of the British command. She soon finds herself caught up in the inner circle, including an engagement with an unsuitable man, but one who gives her unparalleled access to the military secrets that she then can pass on to her mentor and to the rebels.

However, it is when Peter Tremayne returns to the scene that the trouble starts. He believes that Kate was part of the plot to steal the papers, which nearly ended in him losing his life. He has been charged with the task of finding the women who caused his disgrace and bringing them to justice. Peter is not the only person on Kate's trail though. With their feelings for each other growing stronger, an engagement to another man who happens to be closely linked to Peter, and the dangerous situation that Kate has put herself in, there is no guarantee that they will both make it to the end of the war, let alone that they will make it to the end together. And, if they do, how can they possible make a life together when everything in their lives puts them on opposite sides of the political fence.

The author of this book has a background in screen writing and there are times you can tell, with some of the dramatic plot twists and turns. Sometimes that can be a bad thing because there is all plot and not enough focus on characters or the history, but in this case I think Thorland got the balance pretty much right, although there was a touch of melodrama. For example, you do have to suspend disbelief a little as you see Kate transform from a Quaker lass to a woman who would give away her virginity so easily, to a beautiful and worldly spy. This screen writing and involvement in TV and movies also meant that the author was able to bring those skills to making the book trailer below.

For a while there I was wondering if this book could have been classified more as a historical romance rather than historical fiction with romantic elements, but then some things happened that you would just never see happen in a straight romance novel!

On her website, the author has the tagline 'Sex, Violence and History' and I think that is perfectly apt for this book. While there aren't too many sex scenes, the ones that are there are quite revealing. There is also no backing away from the fact that the American Revolution was a violent time to be living in places like Philadelphia where the war came virtually to the door of the cities and where the people suffered due to blockades and the like, and it was doubly dangerous to be a 'rebel' against the British rule. The history seems to be strong, although I must confess that I don't know much more than the basics about this period in time but there were some familiar names coming to life on the page.There were some characters that I was surprised to see were actual historical figures given their actions!

This book is apparently the first in the Renegades of the Revolution series, and I can't wait to see where the author takes us next!

Rating 4/5
They are lovers on opposite sides of a brutal war, with everything at stake and no possibility of retreat. They can trust no one—especially not each other.

Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace—and implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Months later, having narrowly escaped court martial and hanging, Tremayne returns to decadent, British-occupied Philadelphia with no stomach for his current assignment—to capture the woman he believes betrayed him. Nor does he relish the glittering entertainments being held for General Howe’s idle officers. Worse, the glamorous woman in the midst of this social whirl, the fiancĂ©e of his own dissolute cousin, is none other than Kate Grey herself. And so begins their dangerous dance, between passion and patriotism, between certain death and the promise of a brave new future together.
Crossposted at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader


  1. Ooooh, I really want this one now!!

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  4. This one has been on my radar for awhile. I had no idea it was the first in a series though-yay! Great review :)

  5. So glad I found this site! Adding another book to my TBR pile! :)

  6. FYI: Don't see Suzanne Adair on your list. Her novels are set in Revolutionary War era.

    1. I too was going to mention Suzanne Adair...her first trilogy of American Revolutionary War mysteries featured the St. James family of rebels, while a second set features Lt. Michael Stoddard of His Majesty's Army. One great feature of her books (besides the meticulous research--she is a Revolutionary War reenactor) is the fact they are set in the southern theater of the war. They are quick-paced and full of history but most certainly not dull or lifeless (and yes, there is always a hint of romance).

      Her latest Stoddard tale, A HOSTAGE TO HERITAGE, will be available in late April or early May, which gives you a chance to read the first tale, REGULATED FOR MURDER, before HOSTAGE comes out.