Bill VanPatten

Publisher: Bill VanPatten Pages: 312 Price: (paperback) $12.99 ISBN: 9798873520886 Reviewed: February, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Bill VanPatten’s Refuge is a timely saga of finding family and overcoming prejudice.

It’s been six months since Jesse Pérez’s husband, David, died. Jesse is now on his own in their small California town to raise their ten-year-old son, Matthew, who is on the autism spectrum.

Jesse is shocked when his 15-year-old niece, Gloria, appears on his doorstep seeking an abortion after she’s been raped. Jesse supports Gloria but can’t prevent her father, Martin, from forcing the girl to return with him to Lubbock, Texas, the town Jesse left after his conservative family disowned him for being gay.

When her strict, evangelical parents cut Gloria off from friends and school, Jesse flies to Texas to investigate, confronting bitter memories and anti-gay bias. As he gradually realizes Gloria’s parents are abusing her, Jesse calls on a new romantic interest, California cop Bobby, for help. His sister and brother-in-law retaliate by accusing Jesse of crimes, and Jesse soon finds that rescuing Gloria might endanger the life he’s worked so hard to build in California.

VanPatten’s prose is brisk and clean and the plot harrowing as the villains descend from conventionally detestable to truly vile. The author develops believable conflicts for Jesse, probing his fears for his sensitive son and his uncertainty over starting a new romance. A smart lawyer and a resilient Child Protective Services worker in Lubbock work against what might otherwise be conventional typecasting of conservative Texas contra progressive California.

Some readers unwilling to sit through scenes of dinners, phone calls, and morning runs while a child is in danger might find the pacing frustrating, especially with sudden shifts from lulls in the action to high threat.

Overall, though, VanPatten delivers a tale of harrowing suspense that will keep readers hoping that human kindness, love, and justice will win in the end.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Chowchilla, California
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