The debut novel by Donna Thorland is a sinful page-turner and impressive first installment of a planned trilogy called Renegades of the Revolution. The Turncoat follows a group of female spies during the American Revolution who operate in rural New Jersey and British-occupied Philadelphia by seducing unsuspecting Redcoat officers. Beautiful and cunning, the women relay Loyalist war tactics to General George Washington through encrypted messages folded inside eggshells and signals hung on laundry lines.
British General Howe and his rowdy soldiers bring brothels, gambling and opium to Philadelphia, creating a fascinating clash of cultures as they impose the scandalous lifestyle of London on the war-battered Quaker town.
Kate Grey is a peaceful—and neutral—Quaker until a Redcoat contingent invades her New Jersey farmhouse. British Major Peter Tremayne is taken with Kate’s intelligence and charming domesticity. When he abruptly departs for a pressing mission, Kate discovers that a rebel spy in her own household has stolen Tremayne’s military dispatches. She and the spy flee before the British troops can double back and hang them for treason.
Months later, Tremayne runs into Kate again in Philadelphia, except she is no longer an ordinary Quaker. With a new name, fashionable wardrobe and an engagement to a high-ranking British officer, it’s clear she has become a Rebel spy. The Turncoat is one high-stakes adventure, crossing historical fiction with romance, danger and sex in portraying America’s victory over the British. For all the action and lust, Thorland’s believable dialogue steals each scene, perhaps a skill honed in her scriptwriting career.
This review originally appeared in New Jersey Monthly Magazine