AN UNCERTAIN REFUGE
CAROLYN J. ROSE
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and No Substitute for Murder. The sequel to that, No Substitute for Money, was recently released in June, 2013. She penned a young-adult fantasy, Drum Warrior, with her husband, Mike Nettleton (the other half of the ‘Deadly Duo Mysteries’), as well as several mysteries now out of print, but soon to be re-released.
Carolyn grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains. After graduating from the University of Arizona, she spent two years in Arkansas with ‘Volunteers in Service to America’. A further 25 years were spent as a television news researcher, writer, producer and assignment editor, in locations as far apart as Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.
Carolyn founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore ‘Cover to Cover Books’.
Her interests are reading, gardening and not cooking!
“Kate had never suffered physical abuse, but she knew about dominance in the name of love, knew about limited options and the desire to escape”
“… She thought about hope. More than wish or desire, but not exactly trust or confidence, it was a fragile yet powerful thing. Hope could stretch and hold, like a bungee cord anchored above a chasm, or it could splinter like a frozen twig in a winter storm”
“Sorry? A flash of white anger seared Kate’s brain. That was the most destructive word in a victim’s vocabulary. It shouldered undeserved blame. It corrupted justice”
“And I’ve learned that bad people sometimes do good things because they want to, and good people sometimes do bad things because they have to”
“You’re what my boy needs now. My biggest hope is that he will be what you need, too.”
Although both the opening and closing chapters, were powerful and explosive, this certainly wasn’t an action packed, fast paced thriller. It was definitely all in the anticipation, excellent plot building and character forming skills of the author. I knew exactly what the threat was and who it was coming from, right from the very start …. the only unknown, emotionally and psychologically challenging dilemma, was just when and where it was going to happen and I was sat on the edge of my seat and right there with a frazzled Kate, who spends most of the story looking over her shoulder!
Amanda’s decision to take her young son and break free from their lives with an abusive husband and father, result in drastic consequences as the system fails them in spectacular style. Life and death choices and decisions, dominate the strong opening scenes, making this an uncomfortable, yet engrossing beginning to the story, as I tried to anticipate just what decisions and outcomes there would be to the horrific events, unfolding line by line and which would ultimately have such far-reaching consequences, for so many people.
When it becomes apparent that her husband’s family are equally as disturbed and hell-bent on retribution as her husband was, Amanda is faced with having to make even more radical decisions, in an effort to secure a future for her son, Way-Ray, even though she fully knows and accepts the personal risks and sacrifices she is making. The largest proportion of the story is therefore, essentially given over to building on the characters of Kate and Way-Ray, both their individual strengths and weaknesses, how they learn to adapt and adjust to life together, the bonds that draw them together, the insecurities and untruths which threaten to tear them apart and the unexpected anguish Kate feels when she thinks she has lost Way-Ray for good. Kate learns the lesson the hard way, that lying to Way-Ray, no matter that he is still a child, isn’t really protecting him, regardless of the genuine motives she has behind the subterfuge. The truth will always ‘out’ and the consequences may be much more violent and destructive, than she had ever anticipated.
All the time Kate is breaking just about every rule in the book, to help a broken and defeated Amanda and provide some sense of stability and love to Way-Ray, she is hearing the voices of her parents inside her head, remonstrating with her for taking the risk and becoming so emotionally involved in someone else’s problem. In fact, parental domination and the feelings of low esteem and self-worth which this engenders, is a recurring theme for Kate throughout much of the story, which influences much of her thinking and dominates many of her thought and decision making processes. It is only when she finally manages to ‘shake the monkey off her back’ and allows those who have come to care for her, to get close enough to show their true feelings, that her world begins to expand in a more positive way than she ever thought possible.
In the midst of all the emotional turmoil and mayhem, Carolyn introduces a whole new cast of disparate, yet well defined characters, who collectively, to Kate and I have to admit, to me also, appear to be a gathering from every misfit stratum of society. At first, Kate treats them with an attitude almost akin to contempt, however it is only as time passes she realises that in fact these people are her true friends, who have accepted both herself and Way-Ray, without question or condemnation, with no emotional restrictions and without taking the moral high ground. In return Kate learns to accept her new found allies for who and what they are, without challenging their attitudes or appearances, learning to believe in their help as genuinely offered and to reach out and take the hand of friendship, without feeling the need to move on and run away from her true feelings, before she becomes too involved with them.
The almost inevitable climax to events, is a real humdinger of a scene, full of violence, suspense, guessing, second-guessing, manoeuvre and counter-manoeuvre. Kate realises exactly what it is to love and need to protect another person so much, that you are willing to make that ultimate sacrifice and give up your own life to do so. She summons all her hidden reserves of strength and courage, in an effort to have the opportunity to prove to Way-Ray and herself, that there is an alternative to the ‘arms-length’ relationship they have both been living and that together they can embrace life and the future, as a single, united family unit.
Carolyn Rose, has gifted me a copy of ‘An Uncertain Refuge’, in exchange for me reading and sharing my thoughts. The fact that my copy was gifted, has not influenced, nor in any way will influence in the future, any comments I may express about the book, in any posts I may publish. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.