Monday, April 30, 2018

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

GIVEAWAY
TURNER, BETHANY
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 Review:

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.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

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!

50 comments:

  1. Oh, Kav, I'm so glad you finally took a chance and read this one. It is one of my favorite books from last year. The mixture of humor and achingly felt romance is what still brings a giddy smile to my face when I think of it.

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    1. It's brilliant, isn't it? And we can thank my library for my late reading of this one. :-)

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  2. I agree with Terrill, glad you read it, I was looking forward to your review! One of my favorite reads of 2017 too! I have never laughed so hard in my life, but a reader would have to have a sense of humor and be able to see 'church people" from the point of view of someone who was clueless.
    Whoever wins this one is in for a treat!
    I can't wait to see what Bethany Turner comes up with next!
    Happy Monday Best Readers!

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    1. Yes, I am thinking the same thing -- what's next for this author and how soon is it coming out????? And I agree a sense of humour is definitely required to enjoy this book.

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  3. Haven’t read this, but have heard quite a lot about it! I’m very curious to see what all the fuss is about. LattebooksAThotmailDOTcom

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    1. Here's your chance to find out! Good luck, Susan.

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  4. I have heard good things about this book. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom

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    1. They are all true! Good luck, Kim.

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  5. OH YES, I am waiting for this author's next one, also! Loved this one and so glad I read it!

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    1. I'm a fan now too. We're all anxiously waiting to see what's next.

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  6. I've heard mixed things on this one. I think I would like it based on your review. Thank you!
    dianemestrella at gmail dot com

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    1. It definitely stirs strong feelings one way or the other. Good luck, Diane.

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  7. Totally new to me author and I am gathering somewhat more edgy than most but weaving that into a learning experience. Thanks!

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    1. This is her debut so it will be interesting to see what she comes up with next. Really love her voice. Good luck,CC.

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  8. I've heard good things about this book and would like to give it a try.

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  9. Though I'm granny-aged, this book sounds like one I'd really enjoy. I love books with humor, romance, and good character development, especially spiritually. I'm glad to know you recommend it.
    pmkellogg56[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. This definitely meets your criteria. I'm thinking you'll enjoy it too. Good luck, Pam.

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  10. Been excited about this once since our Readers Choice a while back...sounds great!!!

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Awesomesauce sums it up. Good luck, Trixi.

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  11. Thank you for the review on "THE SECRET OF SARAH HOLLENBECK". You have reaffirmed my desire to read this book. Everyone I know that has read it loved it. Hoping to have the opportunity soon to read one high up on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy! Maybe then I'd get to read it sooner than later. :)
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. You're welcome, Kay. Glad to hear you have heard favorable things about this book as well. Good luck.

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  12. Thanks for the review, this sounds like a great book to read on vacation. sonflower277 at gmail dot com

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    1. Would make the perfect vacation read! Good luck, Karen.

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  13. I've been on the fence about this one, so I'm really glad to read your review. If you liked it, I'm sure I will too. Thanks for your review--adding it to the list!

    pwestfall7 at hotmail dot com

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    1. It's the kind of book you'll either love or hate, I think. Seems to generate strong feelings. I'm definitely a fan and hope you will be too. Good luck, Pam.

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  14. Sign me up, please! I am intrigued by this one.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. You're signed up! Good luck, Melanie!

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  15. This book sounds right up my alley. I haven’t heard of it before.

    rosebudsinjune at gmail dot com

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    1. Glad I could introduce you to it, Deborah. Good luck!

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  16. Ahh, this book is like the super cool girl that everyone keeps telling you that you should meet because even though she's popular, she's still totally chill, lol! I really need to get my act together and meet Sarah Hollenbeck! Thanks for the chance, Kav! Your reviews are always so spot-on! :-)

    mylittlebirdiebooks (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Bwahahahaha! Great way of looking at it, Karen. Good luck!

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  17. Have not read this yet but it looks really good. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway.
    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

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    1. You're welcome, Faith. Good luck!

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  18. This author is new to me and her book has been on my wish list since it came out. I would love to win a copy. Your review really “hooked” me! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  19. This sounds like something I would love. Thank you, Kav.
    leliamae54(At)aol(dot)com

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    1. You're welcome, Lucy. Good luck!

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  20. I enjoy good, clean novels, and would enjoy reading one w/ humor mixed in! Thanks for an opportunity to win! Badawson16 at AOL dot COM

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    1. This author has an awesome sense of humour! Good luck, Barb.

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  21. I'm going to look for this one at the library. I saw it on a couple of blogs last year and it sounded good, I just forgot about it!

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    1. It's awesome! Good luck, Savings!

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  22. This would be a new author for me. Sounds like a good one. Thanks for the chance to win a copy Kav.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. It's her debut but we're going to be seeing a whole lot more of her. Good luck, Cindy.

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  23. AWESOME I LOVE Funny Books
    I'm adding this to my lists right away
    Thanks for sharing it and Thanks for the chance
    iamabho AT gmail DoT CoM

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    1. Romantic Comedy is a favourite of mine when it's done well. And this one really is. Good luck, Linda.

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  24. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ladysnowangelphotos(at)gmail(dot)com

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