This was a lucky find. Looking out for both the books by this author came across this one. Will have to wait for my next visit to Melbourne to get to The Chalice as its still on order.
The year is 1537 and a Dominican nun is set an almost impossible task. To find a crown a legendary one that will save the Catholic faith from the Reformation sweeping England. Our heroine is from an aristocratic family. One whose family has already displeased not just the Sovereign but also those of the Reformation specially Cromwell.
Joanna leaves the seclusion of her priory to be present at the execution of a cousin who is burnt at the stake. For this act alone she and her father are accused of treason and sent to the Tower. She is released by the all powerful Bishop of Winchester, who holds her father as hostage only on the promise that she will find the crown supposed to be hidden in her priory. Taken back to her home she finds herself surrounded by the nuns some of whom are very antagonistic at her return. Joanna does not know who are her friends and who are her enemies even amongst her sister nuns
One dead body after another is discovered, seemingly unrelated but as Joanna only knows definitely connected to others who are also on the search for the Crown. With each death, Joanna feels that she herself is under threat and with that the life of her father is at stake. Secrets of the Crown reveal the implications of the death of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionheart and Katharine of Aragon's first husband Arthur.
Threats to destroy all priories in England hang over Joanna and particularly the fate of her own priory. Most religious are now thrown out on the streets to beg or return home to their families and a whole way of religious life is under threat.
The story also highlights the helpless position of women not just physically but also financially when it came to matters of estate and protection and how frail they were in this time.
A beautiful story of a courageous women set in a period of history which is tumultuous.