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Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland

rebel pirate

The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland
Book 2 in the Renegades of the Revolution series
Paperback, 417 pages
March 4, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review and tour

“1775, Boston Harbor. James Sparhawk, Master and Commander in the British Navy, knows trouble when he sees it. The ship he’s boarded is carrying ammunition and gold…into a country on the knife’s edge of war. Sparhawk’s duty is clear: confiscate the cargo, impound the vessel and seize the crew. But when one of the ship’s boys turns out to be a lovely girl, with a loaded pistol and dead-shot aim, Sparhawk finds himself held hostage aboard a Rebel privateer.

Sarah Ward never set out to break the law. Before Boston became a powder keg, she was poised to escape the stigma of being a notorious pirate’s daughter by wedding Micah Wild, one of Salem’s most successful merchants. Then a Patriot mob destroyed her fortune and Wild played her false by marrying her best friend and smuggling a chest of Rebel gold aboard her family’s ship.

Now branded a pirate herself, Sarah will do what she must to secure her family’s safety and her own future. Even if that means taking part in the cat and mouse game unfolding in Boston Harbor, the desperate naval fight between British and Rebel forces for the materiel of war—and pitting herself against James Sparhawk, the one man she cannot resist.”

The Rebel Pirate can be read as a stand-alone book as 99% of the characters are new, it takes place in a different city, and during a slightly earlier time period than The Turncoat. The thing that ties these two books together is that their characters are real ‘renegades’ – spies, pirates, etc.- and they entangle themselves in fascinating experiences. And while you don’t have to read The Turncoat to enjoy The Rebel Pirate, you definitely should read it, it is an awesome book!

The Rebel Pirate grabbed me from the first sentence, “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.” From there, I just had to keep reading and couldn’t put the book down. Thorland knows how to keep a plot moving forward and to keep the reader just off balance enough to not see the twists and turns coming. There were a couple moments where I put the book down and exclaimed “No Way!” or “What!?” actually out loud. It is a great feeling when you can get that into the story being told.

I have never really thought about pirates when thinking about American history, and beyond that, I have never thought of pirates being involved in the Revolution. The impact of ships during the Revolution is not a subject that has been much explored in fiction, but Thorland certainly did some research here and represents it well. I found that there were some very new angles to the Revolution that I had not previously considered.

I loved the characters – they are multi-layered and standout, while still fitting into the historical expectations of the time period. I loved Sparhawk and Sarah. I really appreciated the sort of confusion amongst the populace of Boston about what was happening and who was on what side – people seemed to blend across the lines of rebel and loyalists at this point. I can really imagine this being a time of great confusion.

Overall this was another great book by Thorland and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in book 3! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about the American Revolution.

Author Donna Thorland also has written The Turncoat, the first book in the Renegades of the Revolution series. You can visit Donna’s website for additional information about the book.

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).

I also have the treat of offering some intriguing author interview questions for you all about The Rebel Pirate and about the upcoming book!  And a giveaway!

Does a lot of research go into writing a book like The Rebel Pirate? Please explain your process. How difficult or easy is it to make sure that you get the details right?

I have a head start on the research because I worked at a museum with a fabulous 18th century American collection for seven years, so I know how to dig all the way down to primary sources. But the process is still labor intensive and time consuming.

I have a basic understanding of how Americans dressed in the period, what they ate, the rhythms of their day, how they decorated their homes, but if I want to set a scene in a tavern in Charlestown, I need to find out what taverns existed, then dig down and figure out what kinds of people frequented which establishments.

Once I have a real location, I have to make it real for readers. If there’s an estate inventory, I can use that to reconstruct what kinds of chairs the patrons sat in and what kinds of glasses they drank from. If I’m setting a meal there, I want to look at what time of year it is and what foods were available in the market and how the blockade might effect what was reaching the city…sometimes I fall down the research rabbit hole and have to be rescued, but I think it makes for the kind of vivid experience readers appreciate—where you feel like you were really there.

It’s never easy though. I think I’m probably overly fastidious—a bit of a purist, if willing to compromise a point to craft a gripping story—but it’s the nature of the beast that there’s always someone more immersed, or well-versed, in some particular field of interest who wishes I’d handled something slightly differently!

What will the third novel in the Renegades of the Revolution series be about? What elements will be the same as the other two? What will be different?

The third book is called Mistress Firebrand, and the heroine is an actress who gets herself on a British hanging list for writing seditious plays. It takes place in New York in the world of the 18th century theater and the action encompasses the Battle of Saratoga.

I certainly hope my readers can count on another strong heroine, and another complicated, conflicted hero. Anything else is fair game!

Do you want to enter to win a copy of The Rebel Pirate (that’s a dumb question, of course you do!!!)?  I have one copy of the book up for grabs for a lucky US resident.  Enter through the Rafflecopter below and good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you visit any of the other blogs on this tour you can find additional giveaways on their blogs as well.  Here is the rest of the tour schedule:


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I'm fascinated by 'first sentences' of novels. Thanks for posting this one, certainly makes one want to read on.

    1. That is something that I do like to read in other's reviews too - I don't do it regularly because I don't want to copy their style, but this one caught me right from the get go!

  2. I loved this book as well as The Turncoat (been on a big Revolutionary kick lately). Can't wait for the next one!

  3. Wow! Sounds like a book not to be missed and a read for me.

  4. I loved The Turncoat. I hope to get this one soon.

  5. I'm in the mood, Donna, to read a rousing historically accurate pirate's tale with romance and action! I believe I'm in the mood to read your book...especially since it's part of our American history! Thanks for your writing and this post. jdh2690@gmail.com

    1. Forgot to answer the question about the review. It is excellent! And I'm most excited to find that there is another book in the offing: Mistress Firebrand! Thanks.

  6. This book sounds captivating and fascinating. Your incisive review caught my interest. Many thanks for this wonderful giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. I am so glad to see more books being written about this time period in the Colonies. It is such a rich source of characters and plots. I appreciate the effort Donna Thorland has put into her research. I read historical fiction for a good story, but as important to me is learning the details of daily life in the time period. I will be looking for THE TURNCOAT as well as THE REBEL PIRATE. I am looking forward to MISTRESS FIREBRAND. It takes place not far from where I grew up. It is an area rich in colonial history from the time of the French trappers and early Dutch and English settlers.
    (Patricia on Rafflecopter)

    1. I love HF in American history, and I try not to pass up the opportunity to review any of these!

  8. I've just discovered this author and can't wait to read this, as well as the sequel. Thanks.

  9. Your love of this book shines through your excellent review. Including that fantastic first sentence was a stroke of genius. The rest of your insights have made me excited to read THE REBEL PIRATE too!

    1. Yay! Hope you enjoy it! I love this newer author.


Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!