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The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by…

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

by Bethany Turner

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is the first book I’ve read by Bethany Turner, and it won’t be the last! I could not put this story down once I started reading.

Sarah Hollenbeck is a successful and famous steamy romance writer. But when she dedicates her life to Christ, she has to figure out how to mesh her old life with her newfound faith. Along the way, she starts crushing on her pastor, and the crazy happenings just go on from there!

I really liked this book for several reasons. The first is that it was a new and plausible story. The premise of the story was something I have not encountered in Christian fiction before. I think it is also something readers can relate to; it’s a real life situation. There may not be a story exactly like this one, but I’m sure there are people out there who encounter many of the same problems the main character deals with once they find Christ.

The second reason I liked Bethany Turner’s novel was the humor. I found myself laughing at several hilarious lines numerous times throughout. What made some of the humor the most funny, though, were the mentions of other pop culture books and movies. Jane Austen and her novels are included several times in the storyline—much to the chagrin of one of the characters.

The combination of real-life drama, scripture, and relatable characters is what makes this story so worth reading. If you enjoy captivating, romantic reads, you should definitely give The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck a shot! ( )
  ShareeKim | Jan 1, 2018 |
Sarah had it all…well she thought she had it all. She was married to her high school sweetheart, she was a famous writer of sleazy romance novels, and extremely wealthy, then her marriage begins to fail. Her world falls apart when she finds her husband cheating on her in their home. After her divorce she feels confused and unhinged. Her friend, Piper, reaches out to her and leads her to Christ. On her very first visit to Piper’s church she meets the minister, Ben. They are both are instantly smitten with each other. A bit of a complicated situation considering he is a man of God and she is the writer of X-rated books? She is a new creature in Christ and wants to follow Him in all areas of her life including her writing.
This book’s story line is unusual in several ways. First, I have never read Christian fiction about a newborn Christian and their spiritual growth. Many of us as believers may have forgotten the newness of our walk with God and total dedication to the Lord. Sarah’s new life is a reminder of that sweet season and also how easily we can lose that focus as time goes on. I enjoyed watching her learn God’s ways and strive to change when He convicted her of sin. Her hunger to learn and obey the Lord was so wonderful!
The story addresses passion and physical desire between a single man and woman that honor God’s guidelines for purity before marriage. The author handles this in a very tasteful way. The temptations and difficulties faced were so true-to-life. Being attracted to the opposite sex is a natural part of how we are created. What is important is how it is handled according to God’s Word. I loved the cleverness and humor throughout the book.
I understand what the author was trying to convey, but was disappointed that Ben and Sarah’s relationship seemed rather one dimensional, focusing on the physical and not the other aspects of a healthy relationship that grows toward marriage. In addition, Ben as a pastor didn’t seem interested in discipling his new convert. I found the book unusual and entertaining.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own. ( )
  Mizroady | Dec 6, 2017 |
Frankly, Sarah's become rich and famous (well, at least, she's rich, her nom de plume is famous) for writing hot and heavy romance novels. But once she becomes a Christian, her career doesn't really mesh with the person she wants to be. So what's next?

I appreciate author Bethany Turner's smart and humorous style in The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. Turner picks up on some of the little human complexities that not everyone can catch or put into words. Now, I'd never heard of maybe half the actors, movies, or what all else Sarah jokes about, so some of the humor was lost on me. But I can confirm that her references to The Sound of Music and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman are on point!

Still, it turns out that this novel's plot isn't what I thought I'd signed up for. Judging by the book blurb (yes, I did actually read the blurb this time!), I thought this novel would be a women's fiction or chick lit read mostly focused on a new believer and her career, with a little romance on the side.

Almost sixty pages into it, there was no romantic hero in the picture at all, and romance novels tend not to take that long to introduce the romantic characters. So I was kind of disappointed when the focus did eventually switch to romance, with Sarah's career slipping more to the side.

Besides, when a relationship keeps cycling back to sex (in cases like this, cycling back to "trying really hard not to have sex"), it bugs me. I think Sarah herself hits the nail on the head in her reference to Michaela and Sully on Dr. Quinn: "The waiting wasn't preached to us." That's what made it all the more appealing. I could explain what all I think about that, but then this wouldn't be a book review anymore.

While I only got halfway through this novel before deciding not to continue, I enjoyed this author's style enough to read her again sometime.
Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
1 vote NadineC.Keels | Nov 15, 2017 |
From the beginning to the end of this book I could feel that the author had placed God’s hand on the main character, took awhile, but it was heart warming adventure.
Forgiveness and turning the other cheek is really shown here, and you are going to be on a wonderful page-turning read once you turn the first page. It isn’t easy to offer forgiveness, and especially when the pain was really offered to hurt someone you love. Great lessons here, from being a new Christian to seasoned, something is about to be learned by all.
Be ready for some really good chuckles, and maybe an old fashioned game of telephone, see how the story comes out, and yes it does seem to change, but the last is awesome.
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Revell, and was not required to give a positive review. ( )
  alekee | Nov 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A light, enjoyable read-- I especially liked the character of Piper, and Sarah's dilemmas. ( )
  rtevels | Oct 30, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0800727665, Paperback)

Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that's obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she's 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 Sarah is 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 beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor doesn't make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 07 Mar 2017 13:54:31 -0500)

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