When the story ended, I really hoped that Ms. Bilyeau would write a follow-up to the adventures of her heroine, Joanna Stafford. I was pleasantly surprised when it landed on my desk.
'The Chalice' takes place in 1538 England, where bloody power struggles between the Crown and Religion are still taking place. Joanna Stafford, reluctant investigator, has found a new home now that she and her fellow nuns and brothers have been thrown out of their abbey, thanks to Henry VIII's hatred of all things Catholic. Her life outside the abbey is full; she is the guardian to her cousin's son, and she is determined to start a new weaving business. And, still, she is conflicted by her feelings for the sheriff Geoffrey Scovill and her close friend, Brother Edmund. But her old enemies are back, and new ones threaten her very existence if she doesn't do what they require.
There are stronger supernatural elements in 'The Chalice'; although Joanna is reluctant to fulfill a prophecy foretold by three different seers, she realizes that the life of the king and the future of Christendom are in her hands.
'The Chalice' is full of well-researched historical details, and although it might seem a bit confusing at times, it is well worth the read. And you just might find yourself sitting on pins-and-needles while waiting for the third book in the series.
I know I am.
'The Chalice' will be released in early March 2013 by Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster.