Between the Dream & The Reality by Donna Fletcher Crow

Between The Dream and The Reality
The wonderful function of fiction is its ability to sweep readers to times and places they could never go on their own, let them meet peoople and have experiences they could have no other way. In other words, fiction expands our experience.
And that is exactly the argument Dr. Elizabeth Allerton, head of the English department at Rocky Mountain College, uses on Richard Spencer, her newest faculty member. Richard is a fine, if just slightly dull academic, but he needs “rounding out”:
      “Richard, I’m not asking a favor.” Elizabeth brandished an exclusive mail-order catalog. “I’m urging this for your sake. Think of it as professional development. Being the recognized authority on Sayers’ Dante, drama, and theology still only makes you half a man. You need rounding out.”
      “And attending this mystery-week caper will do the rounding?” He pulled off his reading glasses and dropped them on top of the stack of papers he was grading.
      “It’s a start. It’ll give you a feel for the whole whodunit thing.”
      He shook his head. “I knew you should never have added that course on mystery writing to the curriculum—  even if I do have to admit you were a sellout.”
      She smiled, brushing back her short dark hair. “Nice to hear you admit it. But now, look. Concentrate on what I’m saying.” She shoved the magazine under his nose. “Sir Gavin Kendall is going to be there. How can you possibly turn down an opportunity like this? Why, he’s practically your opposite number— ”
      “Opposite number?” Richard looked at her dubiously.
      “You really are hopeless.” She threw up her hands. “Opposite number—  like in a spy movie—  the foreign agent whose work corresponds to yours.”
      Richard picked up a red pencil. “Your references are obtuse, Dr. Allerton. I don’t read Sayers' mysteries and I don’t read Le CarrĂ© spy thrillers.”
      “That’s precisely my point. Sir Gavin is the expert on Sayers’ mysteries and that whole period. All of his books are written in Sayers’ style, and he’s writing a biography of Lord Peter Wimsey. Think of the opportunity—  why, even if you went to England to interview Sir Gavin you’d only get a few hours of his time. Here he’s going to be just eighty miles from us in the Rockies, and you could have an entire week to talk to him. Besides— ,” she gave her argument all she had, knowing Richard’s patience for listening would soon wear thin—  “the whole week is role-played as if it were 1933 on an English country estate. So you see, you wouldn’t have to read the books. You could experience them . . . and it comes right at spring break time . . . and— ”
The exotic mystery weekend was all of Elizabeth's romantic fantasies come true: In a luxurious resort high in the Rocky Mountains in 1990 they would be enacting a murder mystery in an elegant English manor house in the 1930's. She and her colleague Richard could experience the best of both worlds.

And then the world gets even better. The star of the week is English mystery writer Sir Gavin Kendall— sophisticated, brilliant, rich— and captivated by Elizabeth:
      To Elizabeth’s mind it was as if her favorite novels had fallen open at her feet and the characters of Albert Campion, Roderick Alleyn, and Lord Peter Wimsey had stepped full-blown from their pages all in one glorious person. Even if she hadn’t been completely infatuated with the fictional heroes upon whom he was modeling his characterization, Elizabeth would have been captivated by Sir Gavin Kendall. His blond, aristocratic Anglo-Saxon looks; the perfectly tailored evening clothes on his tall frame; his easy, flawless manners as he greeted each one at their table . . . everything about the man seemed to be the total embodiment of all her dreams.
      Elizabeth was last to receive his greetings. “I say, it’s most frightfully nice to meet you.” Holding his eyepiece in his left hand, he extended his right to Elizabeth. As his blue eyes met hers and his long fingers closed over her hand, her heart gave a lurch and she knew . . .

It's all far more than she had dreamed until one of the actors turns up dead. Or is he only acting? Or was he one of the actors at all? Have her jewels really been stolen? Or is that part of the script?

Elizabeth struggles to discover the narrow line between fantasy and reality before she falls prey to the vicious murderer lurking in the shadows.
THE SHADOW OF REALTIY is the first book in Donna Fletcher Crow’ romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries featuring favorites from English literature in each plot. Book 2  MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE is set at a Shakespearean festival where Elizabeth’s sister is costume designer. Book 3 will feature Jane Austen.
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 38 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

In addition to the Elizabeth & Richard romantic suspense series Donna writes a clerical mystery series The Monastery Murders: A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH and The Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels: A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH, GRAVE MATTERS and TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN. To read more about these books and to see book videos for The Monastery Murders,  as well as pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:

A lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win an ebook copy of  THE SHADOW OF REALITY. Good luck!


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