The Rebel Pirate
Donna Thorland’s latest novel, like her debut The Turncoat, tackles the complex loyalties and shifting allegiances of the American Revolution. This time the action unfolds in BostonHarbor, where British naval commander James Sparhawk has captured a ship carrying gold and flints toward the Rebel forces. The tables are turned on Sparhawk by Sarah Ward, the daughter of a once powerful pirate now crippled by illness. Romantic sparks fly, but Sparhawk cannot make a commitment to Sarah until he has proven his own identity and decided where his loyalties lie. His hesitation throws Sarah into the company of the man Sparhawk would least have her meet, and into the power of her dangerous, amoral former lover.
Having enjoyed the surprises and complexities of The Turncoat, I was dismayed to see The Rebel Pirate starting out like a straightforward romance. Happily, though, the hero and heroine were soon forced into different paths and the story began to take on some satisfying twists. It slowed down a little after that, only to become fast-paced and convoluted toward the end. I came to the conclusion that Thorland is more comfortable writing the history of battles, raids and intrigues than love stories, and the unevenness of tone may be due to the effort to recreate the romantic heat of The Turncoat. Other than the revolutionary setting, there is little in common between the two novels other than the presence of the spy known as the Widow, and a heroine who is caught between gentility and wildness.
I enjoy Thorland’s writing, which is lively enough to carry the reader through any number of plot twists. Her command of dialogue is excellent, as is her attention to historical detail. I’ll be looking out for her next novel.