Release Date: March 2013
Pages: 395 pages
Series: Renegades of the Revolution #1
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome Bristish 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 fiancée of his own 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.
Thoughts on The Turncoat
Readers of this review should note a few things before continuing on. First, I love historical fiction and have desperately wanted some more set during the Revolutionary War. Second, I was highly anticipating this debut novel. So much so that I went to Barnes & Noble on its release day and asked them to get it out of the back for me (since it still hadn't been unpacked). Third, I always try to be respectful in my critical reviews. Unfortunately, I'm about to be majorly rant-y in this one. Also, I am going to spoil certain things in this book because I just have to do it in order to make my point. So, if you're absolutely dying to read this and want to have no idea what happens, just skim or skip this review. You've been warned.
Here's what I thought I was going to get with The Turncoat - a well-written historical fiction novel that included some awesome spying by a feisty heroine! My expectations were sky-high. Shoot, I'd already told a fellow Revolutionary War lover to put this book on her TBR. So, when I started feeling distraught over the turn this book was taking in the first forty pages or so, I soldiered on. Because it had to get better, right?
Kate Grey is a Quaker, which also means she's a pacifist. We're also told that she wears plain clothing and is not very worldly. While that certainly simplifies and in no way addresses what it means to be a Quaker, I point it out because it's a few things you're told about her and are also likely to expect from a Quaker character.
Well, Kate's father goes off to join the war efforts and she's left at home with some woman who turns out to a spy. Surprise! Before her dad took off for the fight, he left some very important papers that absolutely couldn't get into the wrong hands. Which they obviously did because Kate is a total nincompoop and gives the hiding spot away with her eyes. But fine. Let's move past that. The man who finds the papers, Peter Tremayne, is just so entranced by plain and unexperienced Kate that he tells her that she can have the papers back if she leaves her bedroom door open that night. SO SHE DOES. Because that's not completely out of character for a Quaker. No big deal.
Their little tryst or whatever gets interrupted, and he takes off. But, oh the joy, Kate's somehow infatuated with him and wants to be a spy now. Cue an episode where she sees her friend ripped from her home and raped, and then Kate is chased on horseback with her lady spy friend shooting from the saddle like this is some modern-day movie where the guns are that accurate. Sorry, but I'm just not buying it. Not in the least.
So, Kate becomes this expert spy that entrances everyone and fits right into their rich and worldly circles. To the point that she gets engaged to this English psycho who has a terrible reputation because he rapes and plunders wherever he goes. But it's not all for show! She's like legit attracted to this man. Who is Peter's cousin (or is he?). Who she is also still in love with or whatever. After he basically propositioned her for sex in order for her to get the damn letter back. Okay.
There's some spying and shenanigans, like torture, but there's also love (is that what this is?) and sex. And rape. Did I mention the rape? Because it's in there. And Kate just keeps charming everyone even though she hasn't got a single fault or defining characteristic. She's just Kate! Yay! And she's supposedly a Quaker but there's no real evidence that it has any meaning to her or influence over her actions. So why in the heck make her a Quaker in the first place?
Seriously, the characters in this book make no sense. They do things to further the plot along, but not things that actually fit who they are and/or are supposed to be. There was little to no character development. The villain was horrible but of course Quaker Kate wanted him. And his cousin. FOR NO DAMN REASON THAT I COULD TELL. And who are these idiot men that are so moved by this woman that they make terrible decisions? Aren't they supposed to be a little smarter and not so easily manipulated? Why do these people like each other? Why are they acting this way? I can't tell you. Oh wait, yes I can. They're acting that way so that things happen in the book. But I can't discern a motivation beyond that.
Basically, this was like a bodice ripper. And it had paper-thin characters. I didn't want a historical romance. Not ripping on people who love that genre, but it's not really my thing. So I was really frustrated because it's not what I expected from this one. AND HOLY CRAP IF I'M ACTUALLY READING A ROMANCE SHOULDN'T IT BE ROMANTIC?! Because I'm not rooting for a guy that justifies his cousin's terrible actions by being like "Meh. We've all done it. Welcome to the war." Really? REALLY?!
The plot just seemed ridiculous, the characters were annoying as hell, and most of it just made me LOL in a way that definitely wasn't intended. So, yeah, I was so pissed about this book that made my husband listen to me rant about all the reasons it was the most disappointing thing I've read this year (ever?).
Clearly, this book brought out the worst in me as a reader and a reviewer. I will say that The Turncoat has a ton of four- and five-star reviews on Goodreads so maybe I'm one of the few that just didn't like it. Who knows! I just can't. My eyes are rolling just remembering it all.