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Review & Giveaway: Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes

CRUDE AMBITION
by
Patricia Hunt Holmes
Categories: Mystery / Thriller / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: River Grove Books (Greenleaf Book Group)
Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 326
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A Texas Reckoning

In the early morning hours after a law firm recruiting party at a beachside house on Galveston Island, a female summer intern is found lying on the floor, bruised, bleeding and unconscious. Four men and one young woman attorney who were staying at the house know something terrible happened.

The woman attorney takes her to a hospital but the next day the intern disappears. All of them decide to keep silent, doing nothing about the incident in order to further their own career ambitions while the events of that night haunt the two women. Time passes and then ten years later, crime and hubris bring the former intern back into their lives. Only this time she has the power and the truth is finally brought to light, uprooting everyone’s plans.

From the power centers of Houston law and oil to the fracking fields of South Texas to the Jersey Shore and Washington D.C., this story chronicles the struggles of two ambitious young women in their quest for legal success and justice.

PRAISE FOR CRUDE AMBITION:

“Crude Ambition is a great read. It is an authentic look at big law in Houston and the Texas oil business. Patricia Hunt Holmes weaves a story of ambition, greed, romance and revenge that kept me turning the pages until all the just desserts were served.”

Marc Grossberg, J.D., Author of The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors

“In Crude Ambition, Patricia Hunt Holmes shows she knows Texas in the way Grisham knows Mississippi—politics, environment, strong men and strong women, egos, oil, arrogance, influence and hunger for power. I don’t think anyone could have nailed it better.”

— Bill Sarpalius, Former U.S. Congressman, Author of The Grand Duke of Boys’ Ranch

Review

Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes is the second book that I have read by this talented author. I have read many books where the writer has obviously done their research, and then there is this whole other level of writing that comes from a place of having lived what the story is about. While the acknowledgements section suggests that Holmes is of the research variety, my hunch is that she very much draws from her personal experience as well. There is an intimacy to her storytelling that can only come from knowing a city and a profession to the extent that the reader can truly immerse themselves in the story without confusion or disbelief clouding their experience.

Much like in Searching for Pilar, the city of Houston is a character that Holmes enjoys sharing secrets and tidbits about here and there. Despite my humble upbringing in a northern suburb of Houston, I am well aware of the fancy side of town and enjoy the references to places I have only glimpsed from the outside. Holmes flexes her knowledge of Texas terrain in this book a bit by also taking us to Galveston Island and the Hill Country. This tour of the land made me realize and appreciate just how multifaceted this great state is. Well, when it’s not crawling with corruption, I suppose.

I know that this is only the second book that I have read by Holmes, but I feel like she has already established a signature flair for writing about difficult social issues in a way that is equal parts cautionary and informative. In this particular story, there is this very thin line between ambition and greed. And it is fascinating to see how people from all different walks of life pick a path and, if they are fortunate enough, are allowed the opportunity to change course before it is too late.

If you enjoy a good legal drama, this book is definitely for you. If you like stories about second chances and rising above, this book is also for you. If you are anything like me and enjoy a well-written book that features your hometown, just pick up this book already. Trust me, this book has it all: intrigue, love, betrayal, you name it. You’re welcome.

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with a large international law firm, specializing in nonprofit healthcare finance and rural electric cooperative finance. Consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and Top Lawyers in Houston, she was a frequent speaker at national public finance and health care conferences. Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

In addition to her legal career, Patricia has been a member and board member of several social
service organizations throughout Houston, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, the University of Houston Women’s Studies Program, University of Houston Law Review Board of Directors, is a Trustee of the Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Justice for Our Neighbors.

Patricia grew up in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey but has lived in Houston for over 40 years. She has two daughters, Hillary and Ashley, who have successful careers as an attorney and a geologist, and three adorable grandsons. She is an avid golfer and traveler.

Patricia holds a BA in English and History, an MA in History, and a PhD in Russian and South Asian History with honors, all from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was an editor on the Houston Law Review.


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Review & Giveaway: Searching for Pilar by Patricia Hunt Holmes

 

SEARCHING FOR PILAR
by
PATRICIA HUNT HOLMES
Genre: Contemporary Suspense / Thriller
Publisher: River Grove Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 320 pages

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Pilar, an innocent young wife and mother, is abducted during a fake job interview in Mexico City and forced into sex slavery in Houston. Can she survive the horrors of a world—one which many good Americans don’t see or ignore—long enough for her brother Diego to find her?

Searching for Pilar breaks open the secretive and dangerous world of sex trafficking, while exploring human nature and our connections to each another. Diego’s guilt transforms him from a rudderless youth into a man of purpose, and courage. While he searches, Pilar finds a strength that could save herself and a young girl who needs her. The themes of family, love, faith and the law intertwine in this action-packed tale of the Bayou City.

PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR PILAR:

“Patricia Holmes fictionalizes the heartbreaking reality of cross-border sex trafficking in her novel, Searching for Pilar. This cautionary tale should be required reading for high school classes to foster awareness, understanding, and ultimately solutions to this horrific epidemic.”  —Joanne F. Phillips, author of Revenge of the Cube Dweller.

“In Searching for Pilar, Patricia Hunt Holmes makes us aware of the terrible nature of sex trafficking in the context of a fast-paced, exciting Houston story that moves from affluence and glitz to barrio cantinas and the federal courthouse. The charitable, can-do nature of Houston is reflected in the wide cast of residents who help a young man on an extremely dangerous mission to find his kidnapped sister.  This book will be an added weapon in our fight against sex trafficking.” –Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston

I have never been one of those “H-town represent” type of people, but I am a happy resident of a small suburb of Houston. Searching for Pilar digs deep into the one thing I am ashamed of that happens not only in the seedy parts of the city, but even down the street from my idyllic neighborhood. When a local “massage” parlor is busted and the mugshots of spent women with vacant eyes are plastered all over social media, people (mostly men) will often ridicule their looks and say disgusting, degrading things. Very rarely have I seen anyone come to their defense, explaining that perhaps these women had no choice because they are essentially slaves. While there are women who are voluntary sex workers in this country, I think that many people are unaware of how many women and even children are abducted from their countries and sold into sex slavery. I think that these same people would be even more shocked to realize that this sort of thing happens to U.S. citizens as well. Sometimes their financial situation is so dire that they are tricked and trapped into working as prostitutes. Even our children and teenagers can be lured by promises of modeling contracts or movie stardom, only to be taken to another city or even shipped outside of the U.S.
Holmes was shocked to find that many of her friends were unaware of the fact that Houston is the hub of human trafficking in the U.S. She started writing this book about five years ago, before human trafficking was covered in the media regularly. Despite the lapse in time, this story is still relevant and disturbing. Women and children from all over the world continue to be exploited and it makes my stomach hurt to know that so much of these terrible activities are filtered through my city. It disgusts me that predators from all around visit the city under the guise of watching professional sports.
Although a little farfetched, it is the sports tie which allows Diego, Pilar’s big brother, the luxury to come to Houston to find his sister. The fact that rich and powerful men, including sports stars, have access to underground men’s clubs, makes it plausible that Diego could find clues about his sister’s whereabouts. And while I like the clues used to find Pilar, I thought that Holmes sometimes hit the readers on the nose to make sure they don’t miss anything. I would have liked a little more subtlety in the descriptive passages and less exposition in the dialogue.
Holmes’ knowledge of the city of Houston is intricate and the description of the area is vivid. In fact, her description of the places in Mexico are so well written, it made me wonder if she traveled to any of them for inspiration. I could imagine myself in Pilar’s small village and felt myself tense up as she entered Mexico City. It was in those moments of great writing that I completely forgot that Holmes was a lawyer before becoming a writer. Oftentimes, lawyers turned writers tend to write dry, almost clinical novels, but Holmes’ ear for dialogue and eye for description sets her apart from those writers.
Thankfully, for a book about sex trafficking, the gory details are not in every chapter. I appreciated that Holmes seemed to keep the disturbing descriptions to one chapter. It was difficult to read and probably even more difficult to write. But I believe the chapter serves a purpose and Holmes executes it as tastefully as possible. It gives readers a peek at the horrors that these women and girls go through. One chapter was enough for my eyes, so I couldn’t begin to imagine living that life all day, every day for years.
I don’t want to give anything away because this story really was an exciting thriller. Much like the debates that some of the novel’s characters have, I hope that this book starts a dialogue among people who have hard opinions about topics like illegal aliens and prostitution. I hope that people will see that bad guys won’t have a business if “good” guys would just stop buying the product.
I recommend this book to just about any adult reader, but I especially want the people who mock the mugshots of busted sex workers to open their world up a little bit. Maybe a little awareness will lead to actions that result in big changes.

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with the international law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP.   She was consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers in Houston, and awarded the highest degree by her peers in Martindale Hubbell. She was a frequent speaker at national public finance and healthcare conferences.  Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

Patricia has been a member and board member of social service organizations in Houston that focus on helping women, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red.  She was a founding member and first board chair of Houston Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants.  For the past five years, she has been taking writing workshops with Inprint, associated with the outstanding University of Houston Creative Writing Program.  She began to write Searching for Pilar in a workshop after learning that Houston is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the country.

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1st & 2nd Prizes: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + Mexican Necklace
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
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Excerpt
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Review
4/27/18
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4/28/18
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4/29/18
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4/30/18
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5/1/18
Review
5/2/18
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5/3/18
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5/4/18
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