Monday 10 October 2011

Love in a Monastery

The Monastery Murders offer readers romance, history and mystery in a contemporary clerical mystery genre. Since this is a blog for Romantic Fiction, I’ll focus on the romance part— the complicated relationship between my heroine and hero.
Felicity Howard is a young American woman who found she didn’t enjoy teaching classics in London and on something of a whim took herself off to study theology in a college run by monks in Yorkshire. (If this sounds just too far-fetched, let me assure you that it is exactly what my daughter did, thereby providing me with an excellent opportunity to research setting at first hand.)
In book 1 A Very Private Grave Felicity is rash, headstrong and determined to set the world to rights. She is also bright, energetic and loyal, so don’t despair for her— but she does have to learn things the hard way. Her lessons start when she finds her beloved Father Dominic brutally bludgeoned to death and her church history lecturer Father Antony standing over him, his hands covered in blood.
Felicity and Antony spend the rest of the book chasing and being chased by murderers across northern England. And Felicity isn’t always sure which side of the chase Antony is on.
Let me hasten to explain that, although Antony is teaching in the monastery college, he is not a monk himself. Antony is a priest— an Anglican priest who is allowed to marry. (I had no desire to rewrite The Thorn Birds, brilliant though that was.) Antony, however, is considering taking monastic vows. Until Felicity turns his world upside down.
But wait. In book 2 A Darkly Hidden Truth Felicity has decided to become a nun. She can't possibly help Antony find the valuable missing icon. She's off to visit convents. And then her overwhelming mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered. Through chases across the soggier bits of the Norfolk Broads and the domains of the Knights Hospitaller in London the question dogs Felicity: Should she choose the veil or Antony?
Just to show that this tangled tale is, indeed, appropriate for a Romantic Fiction blog, let me break all the rules and give away the ending with a brief excerpt:
The eggs and sausage were long gone by the time Antony entered the crowded refectory. He turned his back on the lone piece of bacon left on the serving tray. Black coffee. Strong. That was what he needed.

He spotted Felicity sitting across from her mother at a table by the window. She sketched him an airy wave and scooted over to make room for him on the end of the bench. He took a deep breath and crossed the teeming room of jubilant people, his own heart so heavy it was an effort to get one foot in front of another.

Once seated, he couldn’t have been more thankful for Cynthia’s rattling monologue which relieved him of any need to converse. ". . . of course, I feel so guilty about that lovely Sir Robert. If I hadn’t told him about that cross emblem . . . And poor . . .. I feel so sorry for him. Poor, doddering fool. I suppose he’s left as head of the family now. But to think what his own son was involved in. I just can’t get over . . . being such a snake. . ." (spoilers deleted) She paused for a bite of well-mustared sausage.

Antony took the opportunity to turn to Felicity. He couldn’t put it off any longer. "Well, have you decided?"

She blinked, then stared blankly. "Huh? Decided what?"

"Rempstone, Ham Common, St. Margaret’s? Your calling."

Felicity smiled, then looked down at her plate, almost shyly. "Oh, that. Yes. Definitely called, I think."

He waited for the blow. Whatever it was, he had to be glad for her.

She looked up into his eyes, grinning broadly. "I definitely want to take the veil. Fingertip net, I think. Over my face, too. With an orange blossom halo."

He blinked. Did he dare trust what he was hearing? "You mean— "

"I think I quite fancy being a vicar’s wife. That could be considered a calling, don’t you agree?"

He didn’t realize until he heard the applause that he had kissed her in the middle of the crowded refectory.
Praise for the first of The Monastery Murders from one of my favorite writers;
" A Very Private Grave is a Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller. At its centre is a sweeping, page-turning quest through the atmospherically-depicted North of England, served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. In this novel, Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries."
--Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 37 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. The Monastery Murders series is her current work.
A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH, GRAVE MATTERS and TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN comprise The Lord Danvers Mysteries featuring Victorian true crimes.
The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries, is a romantic suspense series using literary figures as background: Dorothy L Sayers in THE SHADOW OF REALITY and Shakespeare in A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE.
Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. Donna is an enthusiastic gardener.
To see the book video for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:
Her blog is at:
and you can follow her on Facebook at:
A Darkly Hidden Truth, has just been released in the UK,
It will be available in ebook format soon, and will be released in North America in January.


Lindsay Townsend said...

Super blog for an intriguing and romantic series, Donna! I love your romantic excerpt, too - thanks so much for sharing!

jean hart stewart said...

How nice of you to give the ending, a real change in author-sharing. I'm sure it makes any reader was to know how the heroine managed to make up her mind...Many sales with this one..

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Lindsay and Jean, Thank you so much. It's great fun to be with this group. I started out writing category romances--back when Barbara Cartland was big--then gravitated more to the intrigues,but I never lost my love of romance.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I love this type of mystery fiction, Donna - thanks for blogging about it!