From Goodreads: Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.
But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.
With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.
My Thoughts: I received this book from NetGalley for review. This was a busy book. There were a lot of little back stories put together to make one story; first you have the Stafford/Tudor issues, then the Reformation/Dissolution of the Monasteries and then the story of the mythical crown of Athelstan. There were so many people popping in and out of the story that at times it was difficult to keep track of who was who and who had what agenda.
There were some interesting characters; I liked Joanna as she was a strong female lead. I also liked Brother Edmund and Geoffrey Scovill but I wish that Geoffrey hadn't been such a pop in and out character. I would have liked to see him more because he seemed like a decent person whose goal was to help people and make sure people were treated justly.
There were some things I didn't like about the story though. The weird pseudo romance between Geoffrey and Joanna bothered me and I really didn't like all the incest and molestation issues that popped up toward the end of the story. It seemed like all of a sudden all kinds of things were being revealed and my thought was 'Whoa! Is that necessary?' in regards to some of the situations discussed. I also am interested in the fact that George Boleyn was made out to be a rapist; this is the second book I have read this month that included George Boleyn molesting or raping someone and it really surprised me because I have never seen this assertion before. The ending to the story was not what I was expecting but up until that point the story definitely moved along well. Overall, this was a unique story with some annoying flaws. 3 stars.