The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

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@seebethanywrite

Picking up this read was a completely spontaneous decision for me, which by the way, is completely NOT like me. I had heard rumblings about this amazing book coming out that seemed right up my alley and  decided to put it on the hold list at the library (I rarely buy new to me authors). Then it came out and it was like my social media world exploded with The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I thought I’d have to wait since it was brand new, but lo, and behold, I got the coveted message that it was ready to be picked up. I went as soon as possible.

I then proceeded to read it in almost  one sitting.

The Story

SLS Hollenbeck 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.

My Review

Guys, I will be the first to admit that the subject matter in The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was exactly mine. As I delve more and more into the Christian Fiction world, one thing that can get on my nerves is when authors ignore the realities of attraction and how we, as broken humans, respond to. It’s like sex doesn’t exist (gasp! I wrote the “s” word).

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@seebethanywrite

That is where this story is different. It puts it right out there in front for everyone to see and get comfortable with from the start. I mean, what else are you going to expect from a reformed romance writer (as in THAT kind of romance)? But Bethany approaches it in a refreshingly real way that seems more like a friend is telling you a story, imparting the life lessons within, without going into gory detail. I’ve heard many say that it’s about the testimony of God in their story, not the details, and while there are plenty of details, it’s not the kind of details that make your eyes want to burn.

So, while I could go on about great story and swoony heroes, I won’t, because the essence of the story is what got to me at my core and made it relatable in a way that only a few other authors have accomplished.

In my opinion, this is exactly what Christian Fiction should be about; how do I be a Christ-follower while navigating this world I’m living in, but not of?

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The Author

Bethany is a born and bred Kentucky girl who relocated to Colorado in 2001, three years after meeting the love of her life in a chat room, back before anyone knew that wasn’t always a good idea. Thankfully, it worked out in this case, and she and her husband are the proud parents of two boys. In 2014 Bethany walked away from her career as a bank vice president to step out in faith as a writer. Since then, God has not only opened doors in the publishing world, but has also called her to full-time ministry serving on a church staff. She is an innovative systems administrator for a rural church that is passionate about reaching the unchurched.

Top 10 Summer Books

It’s technically fall, though the weather here disputes that fact. So, that means it’s time for the summer round up! This is for books read July-August-September. (There were so many in June, I just couldn’t include it, and I’m resisting a great book I just finished today, because it’s already October!) I surprised myself when I started narrowing down the options and saw how many contempories there are; I normally consume mostly historical fiction, but it appears to have been a summer of contemporaies!

Enjoy!

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Always Watching

Guys, a small miracle happened in our house last night; my husband told me to pre-order a book. This is a major milestone as we are such opposites when it come to reading for enjoyment. While hubs tends towards avoiding it as much as possible and reading non-fiction at that, it’s not unusual for me to devour three fiction books a week. You know what convinced him? Lynette Eason is in the collection of stories.

I can’t even recall how I got him to read Always Watching, I can’t even remember how I got a copy as it’s not my normal genre. In all likelihood I won it off of someone else’s awesome blog. But, he did, and now he’s hooked. And while some of her stories can get a bit scary for me since I’m a pansy (even Jurassic Park gives me nightmares), I will keep reading her books forever and always because she’s a great writer and it’s something we both can enjoy. I’ve just learned to start her books on a Saturday morning when I have “nothing” to do and can get most of it read in a day (I read FAST ya’ll.) I am always surprised though when it gets to be late and I have to put it down because Lynette is so good at drawing you completely into her story world. I find her premise for this series very interesting as it revolves around an agency of female body guards. Go girl power! I love that Olivia defies cultural norms and kicks butt while her big strong man needs rescuing. What Olivia doesn’t know is that she might just be putting herself in the villain’s sights.

Bonus: I went to look up the Amazon link, and it looks like it’s free on Kindle right now!

always watchingThe bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.

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Rescue Me

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When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him–not just on the job as liaison between the Mercy Falls sheriff’s department and PEAK Rescue, but in his private life. He’s the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father’s accidental death. And he’s the one–perhaps the only one–who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she’s nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding heart sister, Willow.

Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on–namely, nabbing the job as youth pastor for her small-town church. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.

Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.


Rescue Me is the second book in the Montana Rescue Series by Susan May Warren focused around a PEAK Rescue Team. While the main story focuses on Sam and Willow, we also dive into the relationship between Jess and Pete, though be prepared, as like Ian and Sierra, their story is on-going. We got a taste of Pete/Jess in Wild Montana Skies, and it was great to get to know both characters more in depth, along with the rest of the team and several other characters in Mercy Falls.

The action is jamb packed throughout the story and with multiple relationships developing, the story is firmly in the page-turner category. Even with several characters to follow, the storylines are easy to follow as you jump between viewpoints. I also think it’s interesting to see a rescue from both sides, i.e. the rescuer and rescuee, thought I suppose you could argue about who falls into what category.

I don’t dive into cover art comments too often, but I love this cover and the Sam is just too handsome. I must say I wasn’t imagining him quite so good looking in my mind, but, oh, after reading the story focused on him, it fits so well!

P.S. Susan’s author note at the end is touching. I usually skip over these, but am so glad I read it. Don’t forget to read it as well.

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