14761017Reviewed by A.D. Cole

It’s the winter of 1777 and General Howe of the British Army is about to take control of Philadelphia. The rebel Americans are fresh off their victory at Trenton which was won, it is believed, because the Hessian Count Carl Donop was detained by his lovely mistress, Angela Ferrers, who just so happens to be an American spy. Innocent Quaker farm girl, Kate Grey, has no idea just how very personal this news will soon become to her. Or that her seemingly benign “Aunt Angela” is in fact this very spy.

When Peter Tremayne arrives with his regiment of redcoats to be quartered at Grey house, Kate quickly succumbs to seduction. Unbeknownst to her, while she’s busy being romanced by Tremayne, Aunt Angela is stealing important documents from his coat and thus orchestrating the downfall of his career in the military. It is only after he leaves that Kate realizes what has happened. And seeing no other recourse, she flees with Angela to deliver the documents to General Washington.

Heartbroken and needing an outlet for her ambition, Kate volunteers to learn the spy craft from Angela so that she can infiltrate Howe’s Philadelphia and aid the nearby American forts. She’s quickly transformed from a plain farm girl into a powdered society lady. But it’s her lively and independent personality that wins her the heart of Bayard “Butcher” Caide, and more importantly, his trust. But when Bay introduces her to his cousin, one Peter Tremayne, Kate’s well-spun deceptions quickly begin to unravel.

The Turncoat is a high adventure story fraught with suspense, intrigue and romance. Philadelphia is transformed into a makeshift London, full of drink and debauchery for Howe’s officers while they wait out the winter. The characters, many pulled straight from the pages of history, are well-drawn and distinctive. And the research is impeccable.

If you’re at all daunted by the history, are perhaps not super familiar with the details of the American Revolution, simply skip to the back of the book where there is an author interview. Thorland discusses many aspects of the historical background, including which characters are true, and which are fictional. And the setting is confined to a small cross section of the war. It isn’t a sweeping epic in which you’ll be bombarded with loads of historical fact. The story is simply seamlessly woven into the historic setting and primarily takes place in Philadelphia.

It should be noted that this is not a historical romance, but rather is a historical fiction with a strong romantic element. You can certainly read it just for the romance, but it should appeal to an even broader audience than that.

Here I have to be honest and say that for me, this is the very best kind of book. This is a romantic adventure taking place in my favorite time period. Historical fiction is my genre. Even so I try to be objective and I honestly think this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Historical fiction and historical romance readers alike should find this one a fun ride. I’d give it five stars because I enjoyed it that much, but I’m giving it four because of the specialized genre, which doesn’t appeal to everyone.

I’m very much looking forward to more from Donna Thorland. According to the interview in the back, we can expect the next book to be centered around the American privateers during the revolution. Not a moment too soon, if you ask me. There’s not enough pirate fiction in this world.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.