Brown paper bags with a big blue prize ribbon on them. It said “Stater Bros” in the middle of that blue ribbon. Our preferred grocery store.
Well, and the only one actually in Yucca Valley, California in 1984.
We lived in Landers about twenty miles away—at the end of Dusty Mile Road. No, really. We did. In a house completely surrounded by archways and at the top of a little hill overlooking a wash, Mom and I spent our days reading and our nights listening to Bruce Williams and Sally Jesse Raphael on the radio. From those shows, I learned never to buy a house without a lawyer (advice I ignored when I bought our house), and that people had some really weird problems.
Once a week, we’d load up our cream-colored 70s Chevy Impala and drive into Yucca Valley. First stop—the fabric store. I drooled and usually left without buying anything. Next stop—Cornet. There the fabric was more affordable and Mom could buy yarn. Sometimes she’d wait, though, and instead of Red Heart she’d buy Dazzlaire from Stater Bros. But before our last stop at the grocery store, we went to the most important place.
With a couple of bags tucked under our arms, we scooped up every book that looked remotely interesting. Mom took home history, fiction, nonfiction, and lots of pattern books for knitting and crocheting. She’d spend the week doing the patterns, and the ones she liked, she’d copy out on notebook paper.
I just loaded my bags with anything that I hadn’t already read and the stuff I liked that I had. I was not a very discerning reader. Half of what ended up in those bags was pure garbage.
And that never once stopped me from reading it.
See, I had all the time in the world to read, so I did. Sure, if I could have afforded it, I could have bought better books, but what thirteen-year-old girl has enough money to buy a dozen or three books a week? Not this one.
Times changed, though. Over the years, my time became more precious, and that made it easier to justify spending more.
Today, if I have to decide between time and money, time wins. Hands down. These days, when I consider the value of the book, it has to hit at least one of those things—worth the time to read it or worth the dollars I spent on it. The best books tick both of those boxes.
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Why this Book Will Be Worth Your Time and Money
I’ve seen the name around—in Facebook groups, recommended reads lists, blog book reviews. Robin Patchen. If you asked me what she wrote, I would have guessed historical romance. Bzzzzt! Wrong answer. Romantic suspense. Contemporary romantic suspense, no less.
Just about the time I received the notice that my request for a review copy of Beauty in Hiding had been approved, I also discovered that in June, Robin Patchen would be teaching at the same writers’ conference I am. Great timing.
All excitement in reading the book (which had an interesting but not riveting synopsis) intensified. Right up to the day the book arrived and I notice something I hadn’t when I requested that review copy. Book two of the series.
Saturday, I started reading without much hope for the book. No, I didn’t think I’d dislike it. I’d skimmed enough of the first page to know the writing wouldn’t drive me nuts. Yes, I am that person. I do read the first page to see if it’s in first person/present tense. This one is neither.
Thank you, Ms. Patchen. I’ll buy you a coffee at SoCal.
By the end of the first chapter of Beauty in Hiding, I’d quit reading with an eye to the review and just immersed myself in the story. While I was at Denny’s reading, the cook came over to say hi. I did not tell him to go away. That does not mean that I didn’t want to.
In fact, Saturday nights are my Denny’s nights. By twelve-thirty, I’d left for the Lighthouse where I write most nights. The Lighthouse isn’t open on Sundays. Doors locked, I took a short nap and then read. Finished that book in record time.
And here I am. Ready to tell you why the book is worth your time and money.
Beauty in Hiding could have been titled “Beauty in Writing.”
No, the book isn’t full of purple prose or lyrical lines that twist and twirl on the page. Robin Patchen is a better writer than that. With careful, skillful attention to the placement of each word, the author weaves her story.
I don’t know how to describe it, because if you look at each phrase or clause, each sentence, each paragraph, each chapter—if you dissect them, you’ll find solid writing and nothing more. Not one bit of it seems anything out of the ordinary.
Maybe that’s what is so brilliant about it. Ms. Patchen captivates you with story rather than writing, with characters rather than characterization. Even her spiritual truths aren’t that deep, and yet they plunge deep into your heart and lodge there.
Jesus is the answer. Jesus loves. He cares—even for the broken, even for the sinner, even for the criminal. He cares even for you.
And she does it all so subtly that I almost couldn’t put my finger on it.
That right there? That is why Beauty in Hiding is worth both time and money—the effortless way Robin Patchen reels you into a good story and holds you there. At the last word on the last page, I felt satisfied—and yet I wanted more. Much more.
The good news is that this is book two of a three-book series. I can have more now by reading book one. I can have more later when book three comes out.
And when I’m done with this series, she has a few more books for me to read. Oh, it’s tough. But see, this is how I know this is an excellent book worth my time and money. I have so very little time to read.
I’ll be using it to read all of Robin’s backlist. Just sayin’.
Beauty in Hiding is recommended for those who enjoy suspense and romantic suspense.
The romance is light—much more on my level than many books are. The suspense seemed to increase with each chapter, and I suspect is going to get even stronger in the next book.