THE SECRET OF SARAH HOLLENBECK
Becoming a Christian is the best - and worst -- thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck.
Up to now, Sarah Hollenbeck made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now she's trying to reconcile her past with the future she's chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore. She's discovering that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from her "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor...well, let's just say that doesn't make things any easier.
With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of humor, novelist Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a witty debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.
My cheeks hurt from grinning so much! Funny, awkward, goofy... and frank. This book has garnered quite the controversy as readers deal with that verboten subject -- desire. Dare I say we seem to be a passionate lot when it comes to passion in our Christian fiction?
If you aren't into romance novels, this isn't the book for you because The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is pure romance. It's toe-curling and swoon inducing, making a fainting couch a very real necessity for the duration of the read. But it also examines aspects of Christian culture - both good and bad -- as well as the foibles of human nature that left me grinding my teeth and hurling insults at certain characters. Which is all good, because I love to get totally immersed in a story.
Told completely from Sarah's first person point of view, Turner takes her readers on a rollicking roller coaster of a ride. I love Sarah soooo much! Self-deprecating humour masks some deep insecurities as she tries to make sense of her life after divorce. At first, she might seem to be self-absorbed but it's really self-preservation as she struggles to emerge from the shadows of her dysfunctional marriage.
Going from steamy romance author sensation to born again Christian is a bit of a cultural shock -- especially when Sarah falls for the pastor her first Sunday at church. Loved that immediate attraction -- a tangible, inexplicable link that sets both their worlds on a giddy tilt-a-whirl of emotional ups and downs. And physical attraction is very much a part of their developing relationship. Turner doesn't shy away from writing about that yearning but it's in a celebratory Godly way.
"I never would have imagined that there could be something more powerful than the desire I felt for Ben in that moment but the desire to not tarnish the love God was building within us was overpowering." (p 160)
Ben and Sarah don't hide from these feelings - but they do control them by putting God first in their relationship. My only hesitancy over their romance came from their spiritual inequality. Pastor Ben is a life-long Christian with a Divinity degree while not only is Sarah a new Christ-follower, but she doesn't have a clue what that actually means. And it does create some problems, but I love the way Sarah grows in her faith and actually ends up encouraging and guiding Ben through a tough situation. I love the way Turner shows how the Spirit can work when our hearts are open and receptive..
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is not your Granny's Christian romance! But if you have an adventurous reading spirit and enjoy a God-centered love story with flawed characters saved by grace, you'll definitely want to give this one a try.
If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Secret of Sarah Hollenbeck, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to a comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 6 2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!