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Authors: Donna Thorland

The Dutch Girl

BOOK: The Dutch Girl

“Donna Thorland writes first-class historical fiction rich with textured detail. Above all,
The Dutch Girl
is a great read steeped in authentic history.”

—Kate Alcott, author of
The Dressmaker
The Daring Ladies of Lowell
, and
A Touch of Stardust

“Vivid [and] evocative, Thorland's newest novel about the Revolution reminds us that more than one kind of liberty was at stake. Rich in historical detail, overflowing with political intrigue and lost love,
The Dutch Girl
is a captivating and thought-provoking read.”

—Sara Donati, international bestselling author of the Wilderness series


Mistress Firebrand

“I loved this book from the first page and raced through it. The plot is seamless, the characters (all of them) compelling, and the romance just lovely. The two main characters are a perfect balance of equals. I consider this author a major find.”

—Mary Balogh,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Only a Promise

“Thorland's most amusing, clever, adventurous, and thought-provoking novel yet. Not only are there wonderfully vivid descriptions, fascinating historical events, and dynamic characters alongside a powerful love story, but Thorland depicts the revolution from several sides, giving readers a 360-degree view of the era.”

RT Book Reviews

“I loved
Mistress Firebrand
every bit as much as [Thorland's] first two books. . . . Her unique mix of history, romance, and adventure all add up to create stunning, sensual stories you cannot put down.”

—Jennifer McQuiston,
New York Times
USA Today
bestselling author of
Her Highland Fling

The Rebel Pirate

“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
A Desperate Fortune

“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
His Wicked Reputation

“Seethes with conflict, intrigue, and romance . . . richly vibrant and utterly believable.”

—Amy Belding Brown, author of
Flight of the Sparrow

“What fun! Totally captivating.”

—Alex Myers, author of

“Swashbuckling high-seas adventure crossed with desire-driven romance, all dished up with perfect historical detail.”

—Bee Ridgway, author of
The River of No Return

The Turncoat

“Very entertaining.”

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

“Cool & sexy.”

—Meg Cabot,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Royal Wedding

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

—Lauren Willig,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Pink Carnation series

“Thorland takes you on an incredible adventure through a wonderfully realized depiction of Colonial America

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

“Fans of Philippa Gregory and Loretta Chase will find
The Turncoat
a thrilling read.”


“A strong debut.”

—Historical Novel Society

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

—Meredith Duran, bestselling author of
Lady Be Good

“Great storytelling—the very best of what historical fiction can be.”

—Simone St. James, author of
The Other Side of Midnight

“One high-stakes adventure. . . . Thorland's believable dialogue steals each scene.”

New Jersey Monthly


Renegades of the American Revolution Series

The Turncoat

The Rebel Pirate

Mistress Firebrand


Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

Copyright © Donna Thorland, 2016

Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Random House LLC, 2016

Penguin Random House 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 Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

New American Library and the New American Library colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information about Penguin Random House, visit

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-16687-5


Names: Thorland, Donna, author.

Title: The Dutch girl: renegades of the American Revolution/Donna Thorland.

Description: New York City: New American Library, [2016] | Series: Renegades

of the American Revolution; 4

Identifiers: LCCN 2015042073 (print) | LCCN 2015045295 (ebook) |

ISBN 9780451471024 (softcover) | ISBN 9780698166875 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)—History—18th century—Fiction. |

United States—History—Revolution, 1775–1783—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION/

Historical. | FICTION/Romance/Historical. | FICTION/Biographical. |

GSAFD: Romantic suspense fiction. | Historical fiction. | Love stories.

Classification: LCC PS3620.H766 D88 2016 (print) | LCC PS3620.H766 (ebook) |

DDC 813/.6—dc23

LC record available at


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.


Scrappy Thorland


Promoted to


Manhattan, 1778

The sampler above the fireplace was a beautiful lie. Everything about the silkwork picture was a fantasy, from the house and trees at the bottom to the inscription stitched at the top:
With utmost care I've wrought this piece according to my skill. Anna Winters, daughter of Charles and Hannah Winters, in the 14th year of her age 1764.

The six girls stitching earnestly beneath it did not know. To them it was the standard of excellence to which they aspired. Their parents did not know either. For them it was a symbol of the status they hoped to acquire for their daughters. A good dame school could teach a girl to sew, to spell, to darn, and to mend, but finishing academies such as Anna's offered more: a polite education for females, acquisition of the ornamental domestic
and social skills that materially improved a provincial girl's marriage prospects.

The picture was a lie, but Anna delivered on its promises. She taught the daughters of New York's wealthy merchants embroidery, mathematics, geography, decorative painting, and drawing in charcoal and pastel. For extra tuition her charges could attend the Tuesday-morning dance class where Mr. Sodi taught the minuet, the louvre, and the allemande. For another fee they could study voice, composition, and the harpsichord with Mr. Biferi.

It was a complete education for ladies, and the finest available in New York, sufficient to make an American girl show to good effect in even a London drawing room, but Anna's visitor was not impressed.

“Geography is an unusual discipline for a finishing school,” said her neatly attired guest, observing the scene in the parlor. Anna could not tell whether she approved. Then she added, “But you offer an otherwise narrow curriculum, and a deceptive one”—her eyes moved from the silk picture on the wall to the girls stitching below it—“when life's hardest lessons are sure to be learned outside these walls.”

Anna had heard similar sentiments from parents before, particularly those in the more volatile trades, whose fortunes were at the mercy of the changing market, although something about this woman's manner suggested that money was no obstacle.

“Education,” replied Anna smoothly, “is an investment in a woman's future. It is a dowry that cannot be
squandered by a spendthrift husband. It is an evergreen inheritance that can be passed to her children no matter the condition of her husband's estate.”

“And if the times call for a woman who can do more than dance and sew?”

That was
one of the usual questions.

It forced Anna to turn and examine her visitor. They had been talking for a quarter of an hour. Anna had led her on a tour of the house, shown her the parlors and garden and a selection of her most advanced students' works in progress, but somehow in that time Anna had failed to look at her guest closely.

The woman had given her name as Ashcroft. Anna had addressed her as “Miss,” and the woman had not corrected her. Miss Ashcroft was young, probably the same age as Anna, in her middle to late twenties; too young to have daughters old enough for finishing school, but not too young to be entrusted with the education of a sister or a niece.

From a short distance, Miss Ashcroft was pleasant-looking, but she wouldn't turn heads on the street. Her linen gown was that shade of beige that blends into every background. Her straw hat was practical and plain. But the face beneath it . . . Anna was forced to take a closer look.

Miss Ashcroft was more than pleasant-looking. She had flawless skin, Cupid's bow lips, and wide, dark brown eyes. The hair tucked into her plain straw hat was a rich
chestnut. The body beneath the dun-colored linen was classically proportioned.

Miss Ashcroft was in fact beautiful, but it was not the sort of beauty that advertised. She wore no paint or powder, no rouge to color her cheeks. She did nothing to court attention and everything to divert it from her.

The simple costume struck Anna all at once as a disguise. Her heart skipped a beat. She had ever known only one woman capable of such artful subterfuge, and the Widow was dead. That dangerous lady had taken her secrets—and Anna's—to the grave with her, and this enigmatic stranger could not possibly know the truth.

“We offer Latin and French to girls who will need it,” said Anna, putting the Widow and the treacherous past from her mind.

Miss Ashcroft turned her penetrating gaze on Anna, and their eyes met. “And what about Dutch?”

Anna's heart raced. This woman knew. It did not matter how
she knew. When you lived beneath layers of secrets piled like blankets against the cold, losing a single covering meant you'd freeze to death. She pulled them close around her now and brazened it out as her late mentor, the woman who had shaped the path her life had taken, would have done.

“There is no demand for it,” Anna said. “The Dutch rarely marry outsiders, and they speak their language only amongst themselves.”

“But you speak it fluently,” said Miss Ashcroft.

Anna could feel all the color drain from her face. The girls went on stitching as though nothing had
happened while Anna's carefully constructed world fell down around her ears.

With it went all hope of safety. Anna Winters, English gentlewoman of disappointed hopes and modest means, mistress of Miss Winters' Academy, did not speak Dutch, but Annatje Hoppe, fugitive from the law, the girl she had once been, did.

“We can arrange special tuition in a variety of subjects,” said Anna. She said it for the benefit of the girls, who were definitely listening, no matter how dulcet and absorbed in their embroidery they might pretend to be. The Widow had always said that women made the best spies because, being so seldom invited to speak, they were forced to cultivate the habit of listening.

The girls' parents, of course, would withdraw them if and when they found out about her. But not yet. Not yet. She had weathered so much to get here. She was not ready to give it up. Each hour, each
she could bargain for counted. “If you'd care to discuss a program of study, we can take tea in my office.”

Miss Ashcroft inclined her head and followed Anna out of the parlor. Every detail of the house she had worked so hard to buy seemed suddenly precious to her: the painted floorcloth in the hall, the sturdy banister on the stairs, the fine chintz curtains on the windows. Her childhood had been one of austerity, her adolescence despair and poverty, so when prosperity had come to her, she'd furnished her home with all the domestic comforts she had never known.

Her students were used to finer things, of course.
Their families were among the richest in Manhattan. But no one expected a schoolmistress to keep a luxurious house, and there were comforts enough for the girls who boarded. There had been more students before the war began in '75, when travel was easier and families from as far away as Albany sent their daughters to Anna for finishing. But then the trouble had started at Lexington in April, and by October the Liberty Boys and the Livingston family between them had driven the royal governor and the British garrison off Manhattan Island.

For months it had been unclear who really controlled New York: the governor, from his floating office aboard a ship in the harbor; the Rebel Committee of Safety; or the mob. Anna's personal sympathies lay with the Rebels, but their war was endangering her livelihood. Anyone with money, anyone whose business was portable, took it elsewhere, and half of Anna's girls had departed with their families.

Then Washington's army arrived in New York in the summer of '76 and enrollment swelled. The Virginian general brought with him a coterie of officers, wives, and,
, daughters—whose needlework and dancing skills could be improved upon, especially with so many eligible young men of the right political persuasion on hand and so many balls being given in their honor.

It was not to last. By November General Howe had driven Washington and his army out of New York and into the Jerseys, and the school had emptied once more.
Fire had broken out as the Rebels fled, and for months the city had reeked of smoke and all the sills in the house had been black with soot. Anna had despaired of the school's recovering.

Her salvation had come from the enemy. Anna would never love the King or the government that ruled in his name, but General Howe had made her prosperous. He had fortified Manhattan and created a safe haven for loyalists—at least the ones wealthy enough to leave their homes and businesses behind—from all over the colonies. War may have been raging off Manhattan Island, with armies pursuing one another through the Jerseys, but in New York life went on. Now Anna was turning students away and putting girls from the finest families in America on a waiting list.

That morning she had been prosperous, successful,

If this woman exposed her, she would be none of those things. If this woman exposed her, the bailiffs would come, and the same corrupt courts that had killed her father would try her. It didn't matter who controlled New York—the British or the Rebels—some things never changed. The law would always be on the side of the rich.

The light filtering through the window at the top of the stairs suddenly seemed wan and gray, as though the day had darkened with Anna's future. Miss Ashcroft followed Anna into the little office behind the second-floor parlor, where she had her writing table and her secretary
and four comfortable chairs. She'd learned that comfortable chairs made meetings with parents, which were sometimes strained, a little easier, but today the soft green damask worsted on her armchair felt suffocating and she fought a sudden urge to run as she had run so many years before. That impulse had only led her into different—and deeper—danger. She had learned since—no, she had been
—to know when to stand and fight.

She shut the door, closeting herself and the enigmatic Miss Ashcroft in privacy. Anna wished that the woman would have the courtesy at least to seem threatening. Instead, she untied her hat and arranged her skirts until she was sitting comfortably and then said, “Did you mention tea?”

It was such a commonplace question. The sort of thing the Widow would have asked. That lady had always leveraged the domestic and the familiar, the feminine and delicate, to her advantage. Tea with the Widow had been like lifting the dome on a silver platter to find a coiled adder.

Miss Ashcroft was so very like the Widow that Anna did not know how she had missed it. It wasn't just the costume. It was something about her manner.

“You're not here for tea, or to look at the school,” said Anna.

“Whiskey, then, perhaps?” said Miss Ashcroft setting her hat on the baize-covered table. “I'm told New Yorkers like to conduct all their business over strong drink, and I expect you kept a bottle, for her.”

“I did keep one, in the kitchen,” admitted Anna. “But I poured it out when I learned she was dead.” She'd poured it, to be specific, in a wide circle over the ground in the garden, a libation of sorts. It had been a sentimental gesture, an offering in honor of a woman who disdained sentiment. Anna had never learned the trick of it, how to detach herself from people and things. Sometimes at night she still closed her eyes and ached to be back in her family's cottage with the smoky jambless chimney and warm sleeping loft.

“Then I suppose there's nothing for it—tea, it is,” said her mysterious visitor. She took the liberty of rising and pulling the bell. When she was seated again, she said, “Now, Anna—or do you prefer Annatje?”

“Anna will do. I presume your name is not Ashcroft.”

“No, it's not. But Ashcroft is a familiar name. That was one of the things I learned from the Widow. Never use a name you will not answer to instinctively, immediately, even—or especially—when you hear it called in a crowded room. Anna is close enough to Annatje, but Winters is an interesting choice, since your family name is Hoppe.”

If she knew that much, she knew everything that mattered. The only question that remained was whether she would prove friend or foe. “Winters was my mother's name.”

“A sensible option, then.”

The door opened. Mrs. Peterson entered with a tray. Miss Ashcroft smiled and asked how many girls were usually enrolled at one time. Here at least was a scene
Anna could play to perfection. She made all the right noises about the school, as though she were conversing with the parent of a prospective student. When Mrs. Peterson was gone and the door was closed again Miss Ashcroft said, “Is there no one in New York in your confidence?”


“That must be very lonely.” Miss Ashcroft sounded as though she was intimately acquainted with loneliness.

Anna had never been lonely. She'd kept her secrets gladly. Talking about them would not change the past. It would only destroy the adoptive family she had formed at the school and shatter all the joy she had found there. Some things were better kept close to the heart. “How do you know who I am?”

“Angela Ferrers willed me her estate. Property, money, and . . . contacts. At least the ones she did not divulge before her death. Her intention was unwritten, but plain enough. I have taken up, in a small way, the work the Widow once did, gathering information. As you observed, though, the Dutch keep themselves to themselves. That is why I am here.”

Anna did not have to ask for whom Miss Ashcroft gathered information. The Widow had been in French pay when Anna met her, though Anna had not learned that until later. Angela had worked for many flags and diverse factions in her varied career, but always against British interests. If this lady was the Widow's protégée, she worked for the Americans, or one of their allies.

It didn't matter. All that was behind her.

“I have not spoken or read Dutch in ten years. You would do better to look for a translator elsewhere.” She heard Dutch, of course, on the street, almost every day, but it was not the Dutch she had grown up with. The accent was different, closer to the way it was spoken in the Netherlands. The Jerseys had their own dialect too. Anna rarely heard the soft cadences of the Hudson Highlands in Manhattan, and when she did she walked quickly away. That life—that world—was behind her. She did not want to be reminded of all she had lost.

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