Mistress Firebrand is the third in Thorland’s Renegades of the Revolution, a series that puts a romantic spin on the American Revolution. That said, despite the romance element in Mistress Firebrand, this in no way sugarcoats the challenges faced by people during this period. In particular, I was struck by the challenges faced be the heroine, Jennifer Leighton, an actress trying to make her way as a playwright. Unfortunately, being an independent and ambitious young woman during this time is not a path that is carved smoothly and you sense the almost sinister atmosphere that surrounds Jennifer in many of the decisions that she will be forced to make.
Mistress Firebrand is set in New York in 1775, right in the midst of the American Revolution. Jennifer Leighton has come to the city to stay with her aunt, a notorious and renowned actress who has fled scandal in England. Jenny has been writing plays for one of the playhouses in New York; however, with the revolution going on, the playhouses are being hit hard. What Jenny needs is a patron, and who happens to be in town, John Burgoyne, an English military leader who has great influence in the acting communities in England. Knowing that there is no future for a playwright in America, Jenny decides that she must obtain patronage from Burgoyne and make her way to England.
When Burgoyne receives Jenny’s invitation to see Jenny act, he considers it a different kind of invitation. Yet his protector, Severin Devere, has no intention of letting Burgoyne off his docked ship and into the hands of the Liberty Boys, so Devere is sent to fetch Jenny instead. Unfortunately, this invitation sets in motion some rather severe consequences, forcing Jenny and Severin, devoted spy to England, to make some hard decisions. (more…)