Sunday, April 24, 2016

REVIEW: The Dutch Girl by Donna Thorland

The Dutch Girl
by Donna Thorland

Publisher: NAL
Page Count: 416
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal buy from Amazon

First attention getter: I already loved the series

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley, 1778

The British control Manhattan, the Rebels hold West Point, and the Dutch patroons reign in feudal splendor over their vast Hudson River Valley estates. But the roads are ruled by highwaymen. Gerrit Van Haren, the dispossessed heir of Harenwyck, is determined to reclaim his inheritance from his decadent brother, Andries, even if that means turning outlaw and joining forces with the invading British. Until, that is, he waylays the carriage of beautiful young finishing school teacher Anna Winters…

Anna is a committed Rebel with a secret past and a dangerous mission to secure the Hudson Highlands for the Americans. Years ago, she was Annatje, the daughter of a tenant farmer who led an uprising against the corrupt landlords and paid with his life. Since then, Anna has vowed to see the patroon system swept aside along with British rule. But at Harenwyck she discovers that politics and virtue do not always align as she expects…and she must choose between two men with a shared past and conflicting visions of the future.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

A recent addition to the author’s body of works exploring romance and spy-suspense in the American Revolution, this work pleases on most fronts. I enjoyed it overall, even the part that made me cringe not detracting from overall enjoyment.

Thorland keeps up her talent at exploring lesser known areas of the American Revolutions and the people who populated those events. The leftover Patroon system that survived English control of New Amsterdam for almost a century is vividly portrayed. The two brothers, Andries and Gerrit, show the intimate struggle between the sweeping winds of change coming with the Revolution and how it impacted century’s old customs and families. I loved getting a window into this world and how the war impacted this corner of New York.

Our lead, Anna, was also a real treat. She’s an intricate blend of vulnerability, strength, and guts. She’s willing to stand up to frightening situations and confrontations, all the while shaking inside and clenching her fists to give her strength. I can’t speak for her skills as a spy, a Widow she ain’t. I’m actually a little surprised she was able to bring off the whole deception part amongst people she grew up with so well. Yet, she doesn’t let that hold her back and make her so afraid to do what needs to be done. I loved this blend of bravery and fear; Anna is immediately relatable due to them.

I liked that the author tended to focus on the emotional in Anna’s relationships rather than the physical. Thorland’s books have always been great romances; yet in previous works, she seemed to focus a lot on the physical aspects of the relationships, as well as the whole rape trope for storytelling. While both are present in this latest volume, they’re not nearly as prevalent. Lots of sexual tension but actual consummation is held at a great, low level.

My only cringe at this book was the ending; it happened way too quickly and pat. We had a great momentum going, tension building to a great, danger-filled climax. Sudden confrontation! Danger! Suspense! And then? A few paragraphs and pages of this person married this person, this person did this and that, the end. Wait, what?!?!

There is no resolution at all to the tense struggle between family members, Revolutionaries, and friends. We go from break-neck speed confrontation to peaceful weddings all within the span of a page. There’s no come down at all. It was all very jarring and unenjoyable. Not a great way to end the book.

I enjoyed the unique area of the American Revolution, the story, the characters, and the romance explored. The author did a great job in balancing everything into a cohesive, great whole. The ending sucked in its sudden-ness, but overall, the book was fairly enjoyable. Definitely a book to look into if you enjoy the author and her American Revolution works.

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