THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK by Bethany Turner. Revell/Baker Publishing Group. (www.revellbooks.com), 2017, 291 pp., $13.99. ISBN 978-0-8007276-6-6.
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Christmas came early this year in the way of delivering some fantastic books and old favorites to my doorstep. As such, I discovered the wonderful catalog of Revell Books and a great new (to me) author, Bethany Turner.
This book is a gem for many reasons and boy, can I relate to it.
It’s tough to carry any kind of moral compass or conservative torch these days. If you don’t go along with the “anything-goes” attitude so prevalent in today’s world, you’re weird, old-fashioned and other adverbs not nearly so nice. I think if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, you really ought to be one. But it sure can be tough at times, and lonely too. Kind of like the Maytag repairman.
But I don’t care. And happily, neither does Sarah Hollenbeck in author Bethany Turner’s latest book, her first Christian romantic comedy, THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK.
Being Christian does not mean being perfect or never making any mistakes. And more often than not, our past has a funny way of catching up with us at exactly the worst time, as Sarah finds out.
Main character Sarah Hollenbeck has made a very good living as Raine de Bourgh, a bestselling steamy romance novelist. On the surface, life should be good. But it’s not. Her ex-husband Patrick, who had affairs during their marriage, is marrying again, a “perfect” Kimberly who is 24 years old. But it’s more than that. It’s that feeling that something is missing. And that her current life is not something she is proud of. But what now? She has contracts for more of those bodice-ripping books.
Life makes a U-turn when she meets Piper, a member of her local book club. Piper calls her out on her life and her writing and invites her to attend her church. It’s there, at Mercy Point Church, where life really gets interesting. Her spiritual life is now on fire. She not only finds God but, exiting the restroom, finds a future love interest in the person of Pastor Ben Delaney who she practically knocks over. The mutual attraction is instant.
But even with God as your boss and co-pilot, there’s no guarantee life will be easy. And it isn’t, as Sarah’s past life career comes back to haunt her and potentially destroy her new relationship.
Sarah figured that out and a whole lot more. When life is lived with dignity on God’s terms, happiness abounds and good things happen. Because, in the end, He always wins. Might as well give it up!
Pardon my switching gears, but author Jan Karon of the Mitford book series had a complaint one time. Someone was disappointed because there was no sex in her novels. Karon replied, “You only think there’s none.” The point being that your imagination and the allure of attraction, the subtle look or touch is far sexier in the end than the anything-goes, all-out-in-your-face method so often used in books today. Ms. Turner gets that idea, and does it so well.
I loved this book. I read it in one day: I couldn’t put it down. It has lively, hilarious-at-times characters, a thought-provoking story line and a great message.
Well done, Bethany! Here’s to more Sarah Hollenbeck.