Dear Ms. Gref:
Germany, 1148. A young woman seeking sanctuary is murdered near the abbey of St. Nicholas. Struck by similarities between the victim and her own dead mother, Eva von Hirschburg, a fiery teenage noblewoman, partners with a peace-loving monk named Brother Clement to find the killer, but the two clash when Eva suspects Brother Karl, a disturbed young man that Clement wants to protect.
As she investigates, Eva is courted by the charismatic Friderich von Starkebrücken. At first Eva rebuffs him, convinced he is only looking for an indiscretion. After days of verbal sparring, reluctant dancing, and thwarted kisses, Eva relents, but Friderich wants Eva to give up what he believes is a dangerous obsession with the murdered woman. Is Friderich trying to protect Eva or is he trying to protect his childhood friend Ragenard, a dark knight with violent tendencies?
Eva cannot capture the killer alone, but trusting the wrong person could prove deadly.
A SERPENT IN THE GARDEN (60,000 words) is a historical mystery for young adults, a medieval Nancy Drew with the lush, sexy feel of Anna Godberson's The Luxe. This book could be either a standalone project or the start of a series. I am writing you because I read several online interviews in which you said you were actively seeking YA and enjoyed stories that went deep into character, time, and place. The first 250 words of the manuscript are below, per agent's inbox guidelines.
I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and the North Carolina Writers' Network. As a developmental psychologist, I have authored/coauthored numerous academic articles and an adult nonfiction book under my maiden name (Knickmeyer). As a child, I lived in Germany, where I decided I wanted to live in a castle, wear silk brocade, and dance on floors strewn with lavender and hyssop.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
A SERPENT IN THE GARDEN
Germany, June 1148
Soon they would be safe. When she reached the abbey, she would find an advocate, a protector, someone who could convince him to acknowledge his son. Her arms tightened around the baby nestled in her cloak.
She lost her heart at fifteen when he followed her into the churchyard and, with burning eyes, demanded a kiss. Two years later, despite everything, she loved him still. In her dreams, she savored the saltiness of his lips and felt the weight of his body as they lay on his cloak, the night curled around them like a raven's wing.
A whistle sounded in the distance. The young woman's head jerked up. She knew that tune, his favorite hunting tune. It coursed through her veins like ice water. How had he found her?
She ran but stopped after a few seconds. She could not escape him that way. He would strike her down from behind; the baby would be thrown to the ground, his skull broken.
She would reason with him. She would promise to run away. To go where nobody knew them. She would not endanger his prospects. But he would never believe her. Not now.
Tears streamed down her face. They would hide in the woods. A ridiculous notion. He was an expert hunter. He would find them. She could picture his knife slicing her baby's throat, feel the blood on her hands, taste the screams in her mouth.
She saw only one choice.