Author visit: Jo Fenton

I’m thrilled to welcome Jo Fenton to the coffee shop today. I’m a huge fan of Jo’s writing as is obvious from the cover of her new book which I was lucky enough to read before publication next week.

As well as being author of The Brotherhood, a story about a religious sect, Jo blogs about writing including #ThursdayThemes. Today she’s here to tell us about the themes in The Refuge.

Thank you for welcoming me onto your blog today, Katy.

With less than a week to go until the launch of The Refuge, it’s all getting very exciting.

I started writing The Refuge in December 2017, almost as soon as Crooked Cat signed me up for The Brotherhood. It had been bubbling away under the surface for quite a while, and it was a great relief to be able to start writing.

The Refuge follows on directly from The Brotherhood, and delves into what happens to the sect after those dramatic events. 

What happens when you mix a disorientated community, a new and fragile mother, and the reappearance of an abducted sister?  Add in a stalker, an untraceable murder suspect, and a desire for redemption…

The Refuge deals with some challenging themes (you know I love my themes!), and I’d like to discuss a few of them in more detail here:


In the Abbey, in the aftermath of the Brotherhood, friendship is the foundation of the community. The new leaders of the Abbey are old friends – bound together by common experiences and affection.

New members join the community; seeking refuge from horrors outside. The friendships they form are vital to get them through the troubles ahead.

When Jess arrives in the Abbey, she makes friends quickly with Tina, Karen, Jimmy, and later on, Dawn. Not all of those friendships are good for her, and she has to learn whom she can trust. She’s overwhelmed by the horrors of her past and threats of the future. Critical choices are coming her way, and she needs all the support she can get.


Different types of love are important in this novel. The love of Mel and Mark for their new baby is a key driver in the plot, and influences many of the decisions that are made.

Mel and Mark know that they love each other, but guilt, anger and jealousy are powerful factors, and an abundance of these emotions threaten the relationship.

Jess and Jimmy, on the other hand, are on the threshold of a new relationship, but each has enough baggage to fill the Abbey and beyond. Will they be able to find common ground, and help each other through the many challenges to come?


Several residents of the Abbey have already suffered abuse in some form. When Mel opens the Abbey as a refuge for victims, they are joined by a mother and her daughter who are in a vulnerable state. 

So many vulnerable people in one building! Will the Refuge continue to feel like a place of safety, or will it become a prison?

There are several other themes: deception, secrets, guilt; to name just a few more. However, each time I talk about one, I risk spoilers, so I’m going to finish here.

I hope you all enjoy reading this book as much as I loved writing it. I’m writing a new series now, and although I love my new characters, I’m definitely missing the inhabitants of the Abbey!

Blurb for The Refuge:

Following the death of The Brotherhood’s charismatic but sinister leader, Dominic, Melissa and her husband Mark resolve to turn the Abbey into a refuge for victims of domestic abuse. But when Melissa’s long-lost sister, Jess, turns up at the Abbey, new complications arise.

The Abbey residents welcome the new arrival but find it hard to cope with the after-effects of her past. As Jess struggles to come to terms with what she’s been through, her sudden freedom brings unforeseen difficulties. The appearance of a stalker – who bears a striking resemblance to the man who kept her prisoner for nine years – leads to serious problems for Jess.

Meanwhile, Mark also finds that his past is coming back to haunt him. When a mother and daughter venture from the Abbey into the local town for a shopping trip, there are dreadful consequences.

A build-up of tension, a poorly baby and a well-planned trap lead Mel, Jess and their family into a terrifying situation.

Can Jess overcome the traumas of her past to rescue her sister?

The Refuge and The Brotherhood are available from Amazon. Together they make up The Abbey Series (NB. The Kindle version of The Refuge is available for pre-order, and will be released on 28th May):

The Brotherhood (The Abbey Series Book 1):

The Refuge (The Abbey Series Book 2):

About the author:

Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and three reading groups.




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