Searching for Pilar: Guest Post



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.


“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



Guest Post by Patricia Hunt Holmes

I was having lunch yesterday after a round of golf with three professional women friends.  We were discussing things that we experienced or saw during the good old days in the legal and business world that would be considered inappropriate today.  I am a retired big firm corporate law partner.

“It’s amazing,” I said.  “Some men still don’t get it.”  I told them about how the marshal at Memorial recently paired my former law partner (let’s call her “Thelma”) and me with two men of our generation who were oblivious to the fact that old habits need to be re-examined.  They were pleasant, but when we did the customary self-introductions on the first tee, one of them addressed me as “honey” and Thelma as “doll.”  DOLL? I had visions of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with their arms around buxom blonds in Las Vegas.

I looked at Thelma, a big time, scary litigator in her day, to see if she would slug the guy.    I was afraid that if we made a fuss, these guys would tell the marshal that we were pain in the neck females who shouldn’t be given tee times at prime times when men like to play.  Since we had never been paired with women in the year and a half we played there, I feared we might never tee off again.  Our golf careers would die right then and there!  Thelma was probably thinking the same thing, so we smiled and patiently endured being addressed as “sweetie” and “baby” for eleven holes.  Finally, we said, “Enough!” and adjourned to the grill and a glass of wine.

Then one of my other friends related something that had happened to her just the week before.  Her team at a large commercial real estate company had an event where prizes were awarded.  She didn’t win.  Her boss, who was hosting the office Christmas party the next night, where he awarded prizes, was standing beside her.  Making light conversation, she told him that she didn’t win anything but hoped she would win something the next day.  He looked her in the eyes and responded in a low voice, “It depends on what you are wearing.”  Was that a sexist innuendo, a bad joke or what?  Did he realize it?  Probably not.

So, for those men who still don’t get it, I put together a list of things you might consider not doing in this time of heightened consciousness of inappropriate behavior in male/female relationships:

First, it’s probably not a good idea to address any woman with terms that are used in talking to children.  For example, anyone over the age of puberty who is not your significant other should not be addressed as “honey,” “doll,” or “sweetie.”  “Baby” should be reserved for talking with actual babies.   Use the woman’s proper name.  If you don’t know it, say “Miss” or Ma’am, like nice Southern boys used to do.  It’s respectful.

Second, never respond to a simple conversational sentence with a suggestive or flirty response.  It kills what could be a pleasant conversation or even a fruitful exchange of ideas.  Unless she is looking for a hookup (possible, but unlikely), she will try to avoid you in the future.  You will miss out on making a friend or loyal employee.

Third, if you don’t want to allow a woman to enter an elevator first or open a door for her, don’t editorialize that “I would open the door for you, but then you would say I was a sexist pig.”   Don’t BE a sexist pig — just get on the elevator first or let her open her own door without comment.  We all realize manners and civility are dying anyway.  But you might just impress people if you did the respectful thing.  Everyone appreciates gentlemanly behavior.

Fourth, don’t habitually close your office door when meeting with a particular subordinate woman unless you need to speak in private.  Otherwise, the rest of the office might suspect that something is going on in there.  That could make the trapped woman nervous and other women in the office resentful of her. It lessens her ability to be seen as a competent professional.   Besides, if the woman is unscrupulous (it does happen, alas!) you may be setting yourself up for a situation where you are accused of something inappropriate that you didn’t really do.   If the door stays open for men in a similar situation, it should stay open for women. 

Last, although hugging and air kissing when meeting is common in many social and business settings, trying to kiss subordinate women or colleagues on the lips is not appropriate.  It reminds me of “copping a feel,” as the boys in my high school in Jersey used to say.  Hug or kiss a woman you know in greeting or goodbye on the cheek.  If you are greeting both a woman and male clients or colleagues, don’t shake hands with the man but kiss and/or hug the woman. Greet them both the same way.  If you are meeting a woman for the first time, or someone you don’t know well, a handshake is appropriate.  If the woman has a stronger grip than you expected, don’t comment about it. 

Old habits are hard to change and often we don’t realize the effect of things we do.  But “the times they are a changing” and I encourage all you guys who are good people to be more “mindful” (to use a trendy theme) of how what you say or do could get you in trouble or rob you of the ability to have meaningful relationships with women colleagues. Above all, don’t let the current hysteria cause you to avoid working with women.  Just keep your interaction respectful and professional, the same as you do with other men. 

Patricia Hunt Holmes, Ph.D., J.D.

Patricia is a retired partner with Vinson & Elkins LLP.  Her first fiction novel, “Searching for Pilar,” will be available April 10, 2017.

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

3rd Prize: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + $20 Amazon Gift Card

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