It is 1777, the British have commandeered the home of Quaker, Kate Grey, and the dashing British Major Peter Tremayne is highly impressed, both with Kate’s beauty and with her knowledge of military tactics, but it is what he doesn’t know that matters.
The two fall instantly in love, but the flowering of their relationship is immediately jeopardized by Aunt Angela, who steals battle plans from Peter’s dispatch bag. He leaves Philadelphia in disgrace and narrowly avoids court marshal. Months later he returns to exact revenge on Angela, but to his dismay he finds that his beloved Kate is now a glamorous lady, luxuriating in the social whirl of the occupied city. He is then horrified to learn that she is engaged to his dastardly cousin. What he does not know is that she is a highly effective undercover agent in the employ of Angela herself. Yet, it is almost as painful for poor Kate to discover that Peter, her one true love, is a British viscount (only short of an earl) and heir to a vast fortune. Who would give up all that for a mere colonial girl? Peter attempts to cling to it all, caught between duty and desire, between the honors of a noble office and the woman he can’t help but love.
The Turncoat is a deft combination of romance, suspense, and history. It isn’t too heavy on historical realism, though. The author has Angela reload a muzzle-loading pistol at night while at a full gallop, a stunt that would have confounded Wild Bill Hickok. As well, she claims that an American officer, unlike a Brit, could not, at any time, resign his commission. She even has Joshua Loring, the Deputy-Commissary of prisoners-of-war in New York City, acting as a spy for George Washington.
Kate’s transformation from a simple country girl into a death-defying master of espionage is made a bit more believable when we find out that her father only converted to Quakerism to pacify his wife, and that he was a military man who felt daughters ought to be educated. And anyways, The Turncoat is entertainment and not scholarship, and its lack of historical authenticity is irrelevant to the novel’s primary goal of taking the reader on a joyride of swashbuckling action and lusty intrigue.
Thorland’s greatest strength is the easy flow of her writing:
“Kate wasn’t certain if the distant thunder she heard was horsemen or the blood pounding in her ears. Hungry soldiers, who wouldn’t stop to ask their allegiance or talk politics. The thunder grew louder, and Kate looked back out the window. The road was hidden by a long stand of elms, but the sound of hooves carried over the field, and the branches shook with their passing.”
Description of this caliber, and dialogue to match, make it easy to progress from chapter to chapter, and from book to book.
First in The Renegades of Revolution Series.
Mild violence. No disturbing content. P.C.
Available in audiobook format.
Donna Thorland's webpage. (click here)