Published: October 2017 by Flemming H. Revell Company
Genre: Christian Fiction
Purchase on Instagram from @sepherbooks or on Amazon.com/The Secret life of Sarah Hollenbeck
Publisher’s Blurb: 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.
The Author: Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
My Thoughts: This is my first Christian fiction read this year and it was absolutely a breath of fresh air. It is also my first encounter with the author and I was quite impressed with her writing style which is a mix of humor and good story telling. The story centers around Sarah Hollenbeck (Of Course) recently divorced from her husband Patrick and desperately trying to start her life all over again. As a coping strategy, she delves into writing poetry (which was actually really awful) and then a book which miraculously gets published under her pen name ‘Raine de Bourgh’ which turns into a huge success and makes her a household name. At the same time, she is led to Christ by her friend Piper and struggles to balance her life as a new Christian especially when she falls in love with her pastor, Ben. Ben, a widower and the father of a five year old is also starting afresh as the new pastor of Mercy Point Church where he meets Sarah, is smitten by her and has to deal with this new path God seems to be leading him through, As with all relationships, Ben and Sarah are faced with the realities of being Christian, in love and all the challenges that come with it. I enjoyed reading this book especially the romance between Sarah and Ben however, I still feel that it was all too quick and good to be true. Most of the problems they faced seemed to be resolved almost overnight and from my personal experience as a Christian who has been married for over a decade and a half, I know that life is not that simple. I like the fact that the book addresses the issues faced by new Christians who are not too sure of what next to do after they accept Christ and this has led me to think more on how we (Christians) don’t take time to disciple new Christian brethren. We are mostly concerned with evangelism and leading them to the Lord and then when they are saved, we move on to the next person on our list. Jesus spent time teaching his disciples and we should also do the same especially in this modern world where there is a lot of confusion on doctrines and church worship. It also highlights hoe Christians who are divorced or widowed are perceived when they decide to find love again and how that is accepted or not in the church. On the downside, some parts of the book were a bit repetitive and the author almost bored me with her constant reference to ‘Pride and Prejudice’ ( a book I actually love but I didn’t feel like I needed to be reminded of it every 10 to 20 pages) but overall it was a good one. I recommend this book to you all and I give it 4 stars.