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Authors: Donna Thorland

The Rebel Pirate

BOOK: The Rebel Pirate
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The Rebel Pirate

“Donna Thorland has started her own revolution in American historical romance and placed her original stamp on an era. Authentic detail, amazing characters, and a dazzlingly broad sweep of action make this a richly romantic adventure that’s hard to put down. Truly brilliant. Prepare to be blown away.”

—Susanna Kearsley,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Splendour Falls

“A fast-paced, soundly researched historical intrigue with vivid characters and sharp writing, The Rebel Pirate is a compelling read.”

—Madeline Hunter,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Counterfeit Mistress
The Accidental Duchess

“We enjoyed
The Rebel Pirate
immensely. It is a great read with all the joy of wonderful historical detail and surprising plot twists. Thumbs up from us!”

—Tom and Sharon Curtis writing as Laura London, author of
The Windflower

“Donna Thorland’s
The Rebel Pirate
is a fast-paced historical novel set in Massachusetts at the dawn of the American Revolution. In a novel that seethes with conflict, intrigue, and romance, Thorland brings to life the tumultuous age of Redcoats and Rebels through her exquisite use of historical detail. From seafaring idioms that would have been familiar to any eighteenth-century sailor to the niceties of American colonial dress and manners, the minutiae make this book richly vibrant and utterly believable. The character of Sarah Ward is spirited and courageous, noble and always energetic. Though Sarah is not without her flaws, they only serve to render her more human and engaging. If you’re a reader who enjoys immersion in another place and time, or if you’re simply looking for a riveting page-turner, you can’t miss with
The Rebel Pirate

—Amy Belding Brown, author of
Emerson’s Wife
Flight of the Sparrow

“What fun! I found
The Rebel Pirate
totally captivating. From the very first page, the story rushes along, tense and enjoyable. In addition to the compelling plot, Thorland has filled her novel with delightful historical details: from sailing ships to interior design to elements of fashion and food, the world is richly described. The central character, Sarah Ward, must confront—again and again—the conflicting allegiances to family, country, love, and self. Thorland mixes the dilemmas of this protagonist with the setting of Boston during the Revolutionary War to arrive at a satisfying and engaging story.”

—Alex Myers, author of

The Turncoat

“Cool & sexy.”

New York Times
bestselling author Meg Cabot

“A compelling world filled with fascinating characters. Thorland takes you on an incredible adventure through a wonderfully realized depiction of Colonial America. I was so taken by the story, I finished the novel in a single sitting. Highly recommended to anyone with a love of adventure, intrigue, and romance!”

—Corey May, writer of video game Assassin’s Creed 3

“A strong debut. . . . [It] provides a strong historical background for readers, with plenty of action in the field of battle to balance out the society and bedroom scenes.”

—Historical Novel Society

“One high-stakes adventure, crossing historical fiction with romance, danger, and sex. . . . Thorland’s believable dialogue steals each scene.”

—New Jersey Monthly

“Kept me up far too late . . . an absolutely gripping read.”

—Meredith Duran, bestselling author of
Fool Me Twice

“A combination of historical espionage and smoldering romance, Thorland’s first novel is a surprising and engrossing tale. Immersing the reader in 1777 Philadelphia, sweeping from decadent high-society balls to the filth of battlefield infirmaries, Thorland exhibits real passion for the time period. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Loretta Chase will find
The Turncoat
a thrilling read.”


“One of the great joys of historical fiction is that it can carry you into another world, submerge you in its trappings, capture you in its conflicts, and let you experience history as it is lived. One of the great joys of reading is to find a new author who creates strong characters, builds vivid scenes, and writes with the assured confidence of an old pro. So allow me the great joy of introducing you to Donna Thorland and her fabulous first novel,
The Turncoat
Let Donna sweep you back to the American Revolution, into a world of spies, suspense, skullduggery, and sex. You won’t want to stop reading. You won’t want to come back to the present.”

—William Martin,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Back Bay

“A stay-up-all-night, swashbuckling, breath-holding adventure of a novel . . . an extraordinary book about an extraordinary heroine.”

—Lauren Willig, national bestselling author of the Pink Carnation series

“An exhilarating, intelligent, and superbly intricate spy thriller that keeps its tension vibrating and surprises crackling until the very last page. Heroine Kate is a strong, resourceful, and memorable character.”

RT Book Reviews

“Very entertaining.”

—Margaret George,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Elizabeth I

“Set in a fascinating and turbulent time in America’s history and featuring an extraordinary heroine,
The Turncoat
is a wonderful debut. It’s a trip into the dangerous past from the comfort of your reading chair, filled with romance, authenticity, and great storytelling—the very best of what historical fiction can be.”

—Simone St. James, author of
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
An Inquiry into Love and Death

Other Novels by Donna Thorland


The Turncoat




New American Library

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Donna Thorland, 2014

Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.



Thorland, Donna.

The rebel pirate: renegades of the revolution/Donna Thorland.

pages cm

ISBN 978-1-101-63798-2

1. Massachusetts—History—1775–1865—Fiction. 2. Great Britain. Royal Navy—Fiction. 3. Smuggling—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3620.H766R4 2014

813'.6—dc23 2013035503


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.




Other Novels by Donna Thorland

Title page

Copyright page




























About the Author

Readers Guide

For my husband, Charles, who gave me time and a room of my own


April 20, 1775

The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead. James Sparhawk, master and commander in the British Navy, on blockade duty patrolling the waters north of Boston, took one look at the glittering fortune in doubloons and swore.

He was supposed to be thwarting smugglers. Petty criminals. Sharp traders who had weighed the risk of prosecution against the reward of profit and decided to defy Parliament with a cargo of outlawed goods bound for Rebel Boston. He was supposed to be confiscating Dutch tea and French molasses, punishing the disobedient colonists by stopping their luxuries and cutting off their trade.

Instead, he was standing on an American schooner, the
Charming Sally
, which he had chased halfway to Marblehead and been obliged, finally, to dismast. And she was carrying one hundred fifty tons of musket flint for ballast and a fortune in foreign gold into a country on a knife’s edge of war.

He closed the chest and turned to his lieutenant, one of Admiral Graves’ innumerable nephews, and said, “Not a word about the gold. To anyone.” Even English sailors might be tempted to mutiny for such a large sum, and half the crew of Sparhawk’s twenty-gun brig were Yankees pressed off American merchant vessels and the docks of Boston. “Have the chest moved to my quarters. Tell the marine guard on duty that no one is to enter.”

Lieutenant Francis Graves pursed his lips. It had been clear from his first day aboard the
that he did not like serving under James, a man only a few years short of thirty who had made captain with little of the navy’s vital currency,
. Not when Graves’ well-connected cousins had commands of their own. It proclaimed him to be the only scion of that seafaring family whose talents did not make up for his temperament.

“What am I to say is in the chest?”

A better officer would say nothing at all, but discretion did not come naturally to a Graves. “Paper,
,” James replied. “Rebel documents.”

“It is far too heavy for paper.”

“Make the Rebels carry it,” James said.
would already know—or suspect—what was in the chest. He could not press the whole crew, even though his ship was shorthanded and could use the men. The
already had too many disgruntled Yankees on board.

That was the problem with service in the North American squadron.
was simple. If he did not press sailors, he put his vessel and the lives of his crew at risk. If he carried out the press, he risked touching off a bloody confrontation with the locals, and Lord knew no one needed another Boston “massacre.” The navy expected its serving officers to strike a near-impossible balance between following standing orders and acting with autonomy when confronted with unusual situations. Unfortunately, there were no
situations in New England these days.

“Order the Americans to throw the flint overboard.” Upon that point, at least, King George and his standing orders were clear:
take the most effectual Measures for arresting, detailing, and securing any Gunpowder, or any sort of Arms or Ammunition, which may be attempted to be imported into the colonies.
The rest, Sparhawk would have to improvise.

“Then press their ship’s boys. The youngest and the smallest. They should be able to reef and hand as well as an adult, and they’re much less likely to cause trouble. Or to be believed if they talk about the gold. Lock the rest of the Yankee sailors in the
Charming Sally
’s hold.”

Graves departed with ill grace to dispose of the flint. James did not like having to trust him with a prize crew. He was too inclined to flogging. A good officer rarely needed to resort to the cat, but young Graves was not a good officer.

Sparhawk remained behind to search the dead skipper’s cabin for real Rebel documents. He quickly grew discouraged. There were papers everywhere: charts and bills of lading and letters. It was a mess, and he had no time to sort it. He would leave it for the prize court in Boston. He took only the
’s log. Its presence was another sign of the late captain’s incompetence. Her log
have gone over the side at the first sign of pursuit.

And James should never have been able to catch her. She was built for speed, sharp-hulled and square-rigged. Properly loaded, with her cargo and ballast stowed correctly, she should have outrun him. She had been handled badly, and the dead captain had only himself to blame for his fate. James had suspected from afar, and discovered for certain up close, that the bungling skipper had set too much sail, driving her weighted hull down into the water instead of skimming it along the surface as her maker had intended.

The man’s cabin was of a piece with his sailing. Merchant crews were allowed to dabble in private ventures, of course, as long as they did not consume space meant for the owner’s cargo. Normally that meant some small objects of high value, such as might fit in a sea chest. A conscientious captain did not cram his living quarters—which were his work quarters as well—with bolts of cloth and boxes of pepper. James had to resist the urge to sneeze after examining the chests.

If the prize court ruled the
Charming Sally
a legal capture, he would see a share of the pepper, the cloth, and the French molasses weighing down her hold. And when she was sold, or more likely bought into the service—Admiral Graves was desperate for seaworthy ships—James would see a share of that as well. Some captains had made fortunes patrolling the Massachusetts coast for smugglers.

But the gold was another matter entirely. It smacked of foreign intrigue, the kind the Admiralty wanted to keep quiet, the kind every officer in the undermanned, cash-strapped North American squadron feared, because the Rebels had a thousand miles of tricky coastline and enough ships, if they found the money to arm them, to spit in the eye of the British Navy. And that was something the French, the Dutch, and the Spanish—in that order—would enjoy seeing.

James returned to the deck. He counted sixteen American sailors, only two of them boys, formed up in a human chain from the hatch to starboard, heaving casks of flint over the side under the watchful eye of a five-man marine detail.

“The chest is stowed in your cabin,” Graves reported.

“Very good, Mr. Graves. Take the boys on board the
and return with a prize crew.”

Graves took a step toward the American boys, and every Yankee sailor on the crowded deck paused and tensed, all eyes fixed on those two small forms. The Americans were suddenly ready—as they had not been when boarded—to do violence.

James looked at the boys again. The smaller one was no more than eleven years old, the same age James had been when he’d unwillingly gone to sea. He was towheaded and slender; his fair hair was sun bleached, his skin deeply tanned, and his gray eyes wide with fear.

The older boy was taller, slimmer, perhaps as old as fifteen, but James could see nothing of his face beneath the broad-brimmed hat. The boy pivoted, sensing James’ scrutiny, and in one fluid movement pulled the younger child behind him. It was a protective gesture, and spoke of courage in the face of the enemy, but it had nothing of masculine bravado about it.

Because the older boy was no boy at all.

“Belay that, Mr. Graves.” James crossed the deck to confront the boy who was not a boy. Her face was still obscured beneath the hat. Her form, now that he was aware of her gender, was plainly feminine: wide hips, narrow waist, and fine bones in her slender wrists. She was not an ordinary sailor’s trull either, to judge by the pale skin of her hands. And no one would bother with the precaution of disguising a trollop during an enemy boarding. Only a lady merited such treatment.

She looked up.

He was right. She had fine skin, luminous brown eyes, and a dusting of freckles to complement honey blond hair much like the boy’s. Her disguise had been hasty. Pearl bobs still hung from her ears, and a fine gold chain circled her neck. She took a step back, out of his reach, barring his access to the child with her slim body.

“Your son?” he asked, but he knew as soon as he spoke that this could not be the case. She was too young—twenty-five or six at the most.

“My brother,” she said. “He is a passenger.”

“The calluses on his hands say otherwise. I am very sorry, but the king’s ships must have men.”

“He is a child,” she said.

“Can you reef and hand?” he addressed the boy, who looked up nervously at his pretty sister.

“Every child on the North Shore can do as much,” she said. “I can reef, hand, and steer the
, but you’re not going to press me.”

She did not intend a flirtation. He knew that. She had none of the jaded sophistication of the Boston ladies he entertained himself with, but he could not resist a smile. “The thought is tempting.”

The girl paled, and he regretted the statement immediately. This was not a London drawing room, or even a Boston parlor. She was alone on a smuggler’s ship, with only a small boy to defend her, and his suggestion, in this context, must sound far from playful.

“Your brother,” he assured her, “will do well on the
. She is a good ship, with,” he lied immoderately, “an excellent crew. We hardly ever resort to the cat.” That much was true. “You may come aboard to see for yourself, and we’ll get you safe to Boston, or wherever home might be.”

The girl narrowed her eyes and scrunched her nose. It was wildly unbecoming and charming all at once. So charming, he realized too late, that it was a signal. He heard a scuffle behind him. He did not turn to look, because she raised one slender arm and captured his full attention.

“I have a better idea,” she said, leveling her pistol at his head. “Order your marines off our ship.”

BOOK: The Rebel Pirate
2.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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