Book Review: An Uncertain Refuge by Carolyn J. Rose

An Uncertain Refuge
Carolyn J. Rose
Carolyn J. Rose, May 2011
Kindle e-book
Also available in trade paperback, July 2011
ISBN 0983735905

I downloaded An Uncertain Refuge, by Carolyn J. Rose for an afternoon read on the couch, chips and ice-tea at hand. I managed to move from couch to dinner table, then back to couch, then to bed and by 11:30pm I finished this very satisfying Indy author’s book in record time because I simply had to read it all without stopping.

This is suspense at its finest.

Kate Dalton runs a women’s shelter in Arkansas, but when an abusive ex-con husband takes a knife to his wife, Kate steps out of her comfort zone and in the altercation, he dies. Pushed by her superiors to capitalize on the incident with a sleazy movie company, Kate, without anything to keep her in this town, leaves her job for the open road, intent on starting over.

Then she gets a request from the battered woman whose husband Katy killed—take her son. Kate has no husband, no children and she intends to keep it that way. But, the woman is adamant, take him, or she’ll put him in foster care.

In spite of her better judgment, Kate’s heart softens and she agrees to take the shattered woman’s nine-year old son, nick-named WayRay for two weeks while the woman recuperates—that is until they get to Oregon and the boy has a medical emergency and Kate must get the mother’s permission for an appendectomy. The message machine for the mother refers all questions to a lawyer. She’s gone, leaving behind a sick and agitated child, and Kate, who tries not to panic. The lawyer fixes the problem with the hospital and Kate’s guardianship, but not the final question of where WayRay’s mom has gone or why she ran.

Seeing an opportunity to get a cheap place for the boy to recover and some additional money, Kate takes a temporary job in a local motel as manager, and in doing so, acquires a ready-made circle of friends in Rhea, the wise cracking, chain-smoking and big hearted motel manager, and Evie who runs a wildlife refuge on the coast; and eventually, a man of steadfast character who sees something special in Kate and comes to love her.

The question of why the boy’s mother is gone is soon resolved when Kate hires a PI to look for her.

This book reads like women’s fiction, thick with beautifully written atmosphere. The protagonist is a deeply introspective woman and the story has incredibly well developed secondary characters. The ending is perfect and remarkable in that there was not the over-the-top violence done in so many suspense novels.

I’m going back for more Carolyn J. Rose books—they’re terrific at any price and this one is just $.99 on Kindle.

Reviewed by R.P. Dahlke, guest reviewer, June 2011.