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Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

the turncoat

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland
Book 1 in the Renegades of the Revolution series
Paperback, 432 pages
NAL Trade
March 5, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review and tour

“Set in decadent, occupied Philadelphia during the winter of 1777, The Turncoat is a swashbuckling tale of romance, war, and espionage.

Lovers on opposite sides of a brutal war, with everything at stake and no possibility of retreat. 

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.”

This was a book I was looking forward to from the first time I saw the cover image and read the blurb. What is there not to like? American Revolution – check. Female spies – check. A little intrigue and romance – check. I have always been partial to the American Revolution if I had to pick a “favorite” war and have always felt that there isn’t enough historical fiction written about this period. Much of what has been written tends to take place in Boston or New York, where much of the early action took place. Thorland sets her novel snuggly in Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside during the time it is occupied by the British General Howe.

I really appreciated the novel being set in this time and place. You get to see the true differences between how the British regulars and the Colonial volunteers endured the war. While the Red Coats were partying and living in a tiny microcosm of London, the Rebels were trying to survive at Valley Forge in their paltry lodgings. Thorland makes sure that we are brought right into the center of the British festivities because the main characters are all on a friendly basis with the General.

The idea of spying has always been something that has intrigued me – especially in the earlier days of warfare. I come from a small town where Nathan Hale was a town hero who actually lived and taught in our town for a while – so we grew up appreciating the benefits and risks of spying. You can bet I was excited to see that Hale was name dropped in this novel too! Here we see the lesser known side of female spies and how having the added benefit of a woman spy on your side could gain you information that men would not have had access to. This book reminded me a lot of The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins.

The characters here were phenomenal. I know I have said this several times this year, but I think this is a year for well written characters. Four of the main characters were completely fictional, but engaged seamlessly with the historical characters. Within the first short chapter I was entranced with Kate and Peter. The pages flew and I couldn’t put the book down. I loved how secrets are kept from the reader since you are primarily limited to the knowledge that Kate has and enjoyed how the plot played out – not one that I saw coming which was nice. I hope that we get to see more of these characters in future books, but as the next book is about privateering, that might not be the case.

There are a few detailed sex scenes – which caught me off guard at first, but as I read on they really fit into the story and likely the cohesiveness of the plot might have been lost without them.

This is author Donna Thorland’s debut novel, with a second book planned for 2014- currently titled Terms of Engagement. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch the book trailer below.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Oh, I really liked The Turning of Anne Merrick so this one sounds good to me on that alone!

    1. I found it to be very similar in feel and tone - which were aspects that I loved about Merrick! If you liked that you will love this.

  2. I have a copy of this one waiting to be read; I'm always up for a good novel set during the American Revolution.

    1. I am too - especially because they tend to be few and far between!

  3. I read this for the tour too and thoroughly enjoyed it! I am looking forward to reading the next book!

    There doesn't seem to be much historical fictionm against this setting does there. I did love the Christine Blevins books too.

    1. I can't wait for the next book and to see which way she takes the series.

  4. This one sounds like such a good read I hope I get to read it soon. Great review!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  5. I was worried about all the romance and the sex, but you're right that the sex scenes really do fit the story. Great review!

    1. I was surprised by the scenes at first because I didn't realize that they would be as detailed as they were, but I grew to appreciate it.


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