355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring by Kit Sergeant

Book bloggers will be familiar with the dilemma of being sent details of really interesting sounding books in your favourite genre when you already have a teetering review stack and should really say “no”.  Such is the case with Kit Sergeant’s book, 355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring, described as ‘an absorbing tale of family, duty, love, and betrayal’.  Naturally, I couldn’t say “no” so it has now taken its place in my review pile but, sadly, it may be there for a while.

Until the happy day comes when I can read it and publish my review, I’m delighted to bring you an extract from the book.

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355 The Women of Washington's Spy RingAbout the Book

Culper Ring members such as Robert Townsend and Hercules Mulligan are well known for the part they played in the Revolutionary War, but who was the mysterious 355 that could “outwit them all?”

355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring chronicles the lives of three remarkable women who use daring, skill, and, yes, a bit of flirtation, to help liberate America.

British sympathizer Margaret (Meg) Moncrieffe expects to find the carefree America she remembers as a youth when she returns from her Irish boarding school. Instead she finds the new country at war, with her father on one side and her new love, Aaron Burr, on the other. When her misguided attempt to end the war results in dire consequences for the Continental Army, Meg switches allegiances in order to amend the damage she caused.

After her husband Jonathan is captured by the British and dies aboard one of the notorious prison ships, a pregnant Elizabeth Burgin realizes she is stronger than she once thought. When a prominent member of the Culper Ring enlists her help on a heist of the prison ships, Elizabeth readily accepts, putting herself and her family in jeopardy in order to save the lives of strangers.

Patriot Sally Townsend wants nothing more than freedom for America. When her family is forced to take in enemy soldiers, Sally seizes the opportunity to garner information from them and pass it on to her brother, Robert, knowing that one false move could result in the noose for both of them. Instead of finding herself in danger when British intelligence officer Major John André shows up at her family’s doorstep, Sally finds herself falling in love. But Major André is playing the same dangerous game as her and Robert, albeit for the other side.

Format: eBook, paperback (332 pp.) Publisher: Thompson Belle Press
Published: 12th December 2017          Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find 355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring on Goodreads

Extract from 355: The Women of Washington’s Spy Ring by Kit Sergeant

October, 1777

With Coghlan in Philadelphia, Meg felt liberated. Life in British-occupied New York was carefree and frolicsome. Hercules Mulligan introduced Mercy and Meg to hordes of high-ranking British soldiers and then stepped back to let the women use their considerable charms to ferret information. Hercules would then pass on a report to his handler, a man named Nathaniel Sackett, who somehow got the information directly to George Washington himself. Meg wondered what the Commander-in-Chief would say if he knew that some of the intelligence which guided his tactical decisions came from the feisty girl who once declined in front of him to drink to Congress.

Meg and Mercy would pay a visit to Mulligan’s tailor shop a few times a week, ostensibly to shop for clothing. Mercy encouraged Meg to purchase something every time, just to keep up appearances. Because she refused to buy anything for her husband, Captain Moncrieffe’s accessory collection grew by tenfold.

“Christopher Duychenik,” Hercules said one day when they were safely ensconced in the storage cellar.

“Short, stout, friend of Governor Tryon?” Mercy seemed to have a stellar memory when it came to Loyalists.

Hercules nodded. “He claims to be one of us, under the cover of working for David Mathews, the mayor, who has ties to William Franklin.” William was the illegitimate son of the founding father, Benjamin Franklin, but, unlike his Patriot sire, was a diehard Loyalist. He was the former governor of New Jersey and a suspected British spymaster, to boot. “We are not sure which way Duychenik’s loyalties lay. If he is indeed a double agent, the information he feeds to the rebels could be deadly.”

Hercules frequently spoke of the word “we.” Meg was not entirely sure who he was working with, but she suspected it might have had to do with that tall man, Robert, who was in the shop the day when Mercy presented Hercules with her rosette.

“How exactly are we supposed to suss that out of him?” Meg asked. “It isn’t as though he would say he actually worked for the British if we asked him.”

Hercules shook his head. “It’s more the impression he gives off.”

“But if he is a spy should he not be very careful of his impressions?” For some reason Meg thought once more of Robert Townsend.

Hercules sighed and glanced at Mercy, who shrugged. He tried again. “It’s – how do you say it – a woman’s intuition. We just need to know if it’s worth looking into. I want to know what you ladies think regarding Duychenik.”

“Noted,” Mercy replied. She poked Meg in the side with her elbow.

“Duly noted,” Meg countered.

Hercules introduced Mercy and Meg to Duychenik at intermission during a play at The Theater Royale the following night. The suspect was dressed in the red and blue regimentals of the loyalist militia, and Mercy started off by commenting on his coat.

“The number of buttons in a row indicates the battalion number.” He held out the navy lapel. “See, there are three, which means I’m of the 3rd Battalion.”

Mercy reached out to finger the coat. “You must be so brave.”

Duychenik laughed. “I haven’t exactly been in battle. We’re more tasked with keeping order in New Jersey.”

Meg had heard about the havoc caused by the Loyalist militia on the island she used to inhabit. Tasked with harassing the locals and stealing their food was more like it, Meg thought.

Hercules took his leave of the ladies of the group, citing the need of another drink. Mercy squinted her eyes at Meg in a gesture that said, You’re not being very helpful.

Meg turned a nearly bare shoulder to Duychenik. “I spent some time in Jersey last year. Are you on familiar terms with William Franklin?”

“I was,” Duychenik said smoothly. “I met him through the mayor of New York City when they had some business to discuss.”

“What sort of business?” Meg asked. She reached out and pretended to snag a loose thread from Duychenik’s vest.

“Oh, just men’s business, the type that would bore ladies of such grace.” Meg caught the glimmer of sweat that had begun to form over his brow. “How do you know Mr. Franklin?” he asked, his eyes narrowed.

Meg giggled. “Oh, I don’t know Mr. Franklin. I met his wife a few times. What was her name?” She pouted, pretending to have forgotten.

“Lizzie.” Duychenik replied immediately

“Ah, yes.” Meg hid her genuine smile behind her fan. “That’s it, Lizzie.”

At that, Duychenik bowed and took his leave of the ladies. As soon as he was out of range, Meg whispered to Mercy, “He’s lying.”

“Indeed.” Mercy hit Meg with the base of her fan. “See? Nothing to it.”

“I guess there is such a thing as a woman’s intuition,” Meg murmured as a servant came to announce the end of intermission.

Kit SergeantAbout the Author

Like her character Addy in Thrown for a Curve, Kit has a practically useless degree in marine biology. A teacher by profession and at heart, she loves to impart little-known facts and dares you to walk away from one of her “light-hearted” chick-lit books without learning at least one new thing. Kit’s female leads are all intelligent, strong, and stand fine on their own…but then again, a Prince Charming waiting in the background is always appreciated. As long as he puts the toilet seat down.

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