Sally Townsend, of Loyalist Oyster Bay, Long Island, walks a tightrope of allegiances. While appearing neutral, she secretly helps the Patriot cause. But when the dashing British Officer, Lt. Colonel John Graves Simcoe, moves into her home, Sally is taken with the handsome, though sometimes ruthless officer. Simcoe is immediately infatuated with the beautiful Sally and proposes marriage. Sally is ready to accept until she discovers he’s at the head of a plot that could destroy the fledgling American army. Now, she must choose between love for her officer and her country. Either choice could cost her everything she holds dear.
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Angela I. Moody is a native Vermonter who grew up in Burlington, where she still lives today. There isn’t a time that she doesn’t remember telling stories, whether concocting plays with her friends in the backyard or writing fiction, she’s been hard at work on her craft.
Angela received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English Literature from Trinity College of Vermont—now part of the University of Vermont. Angela lives with her husband, Jim. Her children are grown and living successful lives of their own.
She has been writing historical fiction for more than twenty years.
No Safe Haven is her debut novel. She is also the author of The Belle of Oyster Bay, published in 2022, and Unfinished Business (coming in March 2023) under Angela Scott, an homage to her grandmother, who always encouraged her to write.
Angela Moody's "The Belle of Oyster Bay" takes readers on an adventure-filled journey through the American Revolution, intertwining historical events with intricate relationships that shape the lives of its characters. It shines in its evocative descriptions of the era, transporting readers to the heart of the American Revolution. Moody's prose captures the spirit of the time, immersing readers in the sights and sounds of 18th-century America. Her attention to detail is immersive, creating a vivid and gorgeous historical setting.
Set against the lush green landscape of early April, the story begins when we meet Sally, a spirited young woman who finds herself entangled in the complexities of love, loyalty, and espionage during a turbulent time in American history.
In the very first scene, we see Sally courageously standing up to armed men threatening a struggling family, and immediately establishes her character as someone who stands up for what is right, even in the face of danger. This early event sets the tone for her unwavering commitment to defending others' rights, no matter the personal cost.
Sally's initial encounter with the charming Colonel John Graves Simcoe sets the stage for their complicated relationship. As a loyal British officer, John is initially drawn to Sally's spirited nature and courageous act of defending a struggling family from armed men. However, his excitement about leading the Queen's Rangers is dampened when he is declined by General Howe, leading him to present his findings to General Howe during a war council, where he also includes the 40th Regiment in the forces.
Moody skillfully portrays the challenges faced by both loyalists and revolutionaries during the American Revolution, giving readers a nuanced understanding of the complexities of the time.
Amidst the chaos of war, Sally's father faces arrest by the Redcoats on various charges. She seeks help from her Uncle Thomas, determined to protect her family and secure her father's release. This series of events reveals the precariousness faced by loyalists who often found themselves caught between their convictions and the harsh realities of war, with the potential for betrayal lurking around every corner.
However, her life takes an unexpected turn when she joins the Culper Ring and begins spying on Colonel Simcoe. This decision puts her in a position of conflict, as she struggles with her feelings for John as well as her loyalty to the American cause.
Sally and John's relationship becomes more complicated. Their growing closeness and John's determination to court Sally officially add a delicious layer of complexity to their romantic dynamic. On Valentine's Day, John's romantic poem further complicates Sally's feelings for him, making her question her heart's true desires. She receives the poem from the man she is spying on!
Throughout the novel, Sally's emotions are tested repeatedly as she finds herself torn between her loyalty as an American patriot and her feelings for a British officer. The inclusion of espionage elements, particularly Sally's involvement in the Culper Ring, adds suspense to the romance, making it more than just a typical love story. This web of conflicting emotions and loyalties keeps readers hooked throughout the book.
Additionally, the novel explores the themes of sacrifice, loyalty, and the human cost of war. As John grapples with his infatuation with Sally, he is torn between his duty as a British officer and his feelings for an American woman.
Sally's suspicions about John and Major Andre's plans grow, leading her to unintentionally become a catalyst in Major Andre's capture. With the capture and subsequent execution of Major Andre, Sally grapples with her involvement and the impact of her actions on the war and the people she cares about. The strained relations between Sally and John highlight the profound consequences their choices can have on their lives and the lives of those around them. This further challenges her sense of loyalty and adds a layer of guilt to her emotional turmoil.
The characters are the highlight of this story, despite the immersive historical setting. They are well-developed, and their interactions feel authentic, drawing readers into their lives and emotions. The inclusion of historical figures like Major John Andre and General Arnold adds an extra layer of richness to the narrative.
Another one of the highlights of the book is the strong emphasis on family bonds and the dynamics within the Townsend family. Sally's relationship with her father, Uncle Thomas, and her sisters is heartwarming and adds a grounding in realism to the story, balancing the tension and drama of the revolution.
As the plot reaches its climax, the story takes unexpected turns. Sally discovers a hidden letter among her father's documents that contains valuable information about British activities on Long Island, including the use of signal beacons for secret communications. The letter is written in a code familiar to her from her involvement with the Culper Ring. Her suspicions about her father's involvement in the espionage ring grow stronger. Realizing the danger of the information, she decides to discreetly inform her brother Robert, who is part of the Continental Army and the Culper Ring. However, she must be cautious due to the presence of Redcoats in the town.
Sally's discovery marks a turning point in the story. It intensifies the stakes for her involvement with the Culper Ring, as she now finds herself torn between loyalty to her family and the cause of the revolution. Her decision to reach out to her brother sets in motion a chain of events that will not only impact her own life but also have broader implications for the war effort and the Culper Ring's activities. This discovery also showcases Sally's courage and resourcefulness. Despite the risks, she takes it upon herself to protect her family and the information she has found.
Sally struggles as she confronts her feelings for John and her loyalty to the patriot cause. Readers will find themselves invested in Sally's journey of self-discovery and the outcome of her relationships with the men in her life. The romance in the novel is beautifully woven into the historical narrative, exploring the complexities of love, loyalty, and sacrifice during this tumultuous period in American history. The characters' emotional journey and the moral dilemmas they face synergistically immerse readers in this world.
"The Belle of Oyster Bay" is a beautifully written historical novel that transports readers to the days of the American Revolution. Angela Moody's storytelling is brilliant, personal, and with well-developed characters and complex relationships that keep readers engaged from start to finish. With its blend of history, romance, and espionage, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and unlikely love stories alike.
“The Belle of Oyster Bay” by Angela Moody receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company
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