Tuesday, October 24, 2017


  Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 304

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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 Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a rare treat packed with humor, hope, and heart. Sarah’s struggles are real and nearly tangible, and she feels like a friend we’ve all had. I laughed with her and fell in love alongside her and couldn’t wait to hear her whole story. What a charming, delightful book!”
                                                               —Liz Johnson, bestselling author of The Red Door Inn

Don’t Miss the Opportunities
Guest Post by Bethany Turner

In 2011 some books were published which took the world by storm. They were very adult. Very graphic. Were they the most explicit books ever published? Certainly not. But they were perhaps the most scandalous books to ever take over the mainstream. (Or at least in the modern era, when it usually takes much more to shock us.) As of a couple of years ago, more than 125 million copies had been sold of the first book in the series alone, and of course the books spawned films, retellings from different points of view, and countless copycats.

As Christ-followers, it’s easy for us to look on those books as something that other people are reading. But not us. Not the ladies we sit next to at church. But the fact is, that’s just not true. If you haven’t read the books, you know someone who has. Maybe they are open about it, maybe they aren’t. Maybe they see something wrong with it, maybe they don’t.

For this particular blog post, that isn’t the point.

The point I want to make, and the question I want to ask, is how are we, as Christians, responding to, well…all of it?

In The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, we meet Sarah, a woman who never intended to take the world by storm with the books she wrote. She wrote in a misguided attempt to escape from the curveballs life had thrown at her and to fill the hole in her heart with something – anything – which made her feel something. Anything.

You can find countless articles and blog posts which exist for the purpose of debating whether or not it is wrong to read such books. Again, for this particular post, that isn’t the point. When Sarah Hollenbeck wrote her scandalous, explicit books, only one person in her life turned her back on her, and it was her best friend, Piper. Piper is a Christian, though Sarah didn’t know that at the time – and even if she had known it, she wouldn’t have even come close to understanding what that had to do with anything. All she knew was that the one person she looked to for acceptance and support had turned her back on her. All she knew was that she felt judged by the one person she’d been certain would never judge her.

Now, it’s important to know that Piper and Sarah worked things out. In fact, Piper went on to become one of my favorite characters I have ever written, and is a fabulous, hilarious amalgamation of some of the remarkable people I am blessed to call my friends. I am a firm believer that everyone should have a Piper. #WhosYourPiper? But I digress.

The fact is, Piper messed up. I’m not saying she was wrong to feel the way she felt when she found out that her best friend had written something which went against Piper’s beliefs, but by turning her back on Sarah, she missed an opportunity. She missed out on many, many months of opportunity, in fact. Piper already had a relationship with the Savior, who Sarah desperately needed to meet. Piper was the person in Sarah’s life who could introduce her to the One who could actually fill the hole in her heart and not just cover it up for a while. But Piper walked out of Sarah’s life for a time, leaving Sarah alone and confused…and still seeking.

How many opportunities have Christ-followers missed by turning their backs on someone with whom they don’t agree? No…that isn’t fair. I need to make this personal. How many opportunities have I missed?

In The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, Sarah’s story is ultimately one of redemption. It’s a story which demonstrates the remarkable and bountiful ways God brings Romans 8:28 to fruition in some of the most unexpected ways. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) In all things. I’m pretty sure that, as my pastor often says, in the original Greek text, the word “all” meant…all.

Am I saying we need to turn a blind eye to sin and choices which conflict with our morals and beliefs? Of course not. But I do believe that we need to consider more than our moral conflicts before we turn our backs or walk away.

We need to consider whether or not we’re willing to miss the opportunities.

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.


Grand Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter tote bag + a typewriter notebook + Columbia Jo's coffee + Novel Teas teabags
2nd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter hardcover journal + typewriter enamel lapel pin
3rd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
October 19-October 28, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Author Interview
Guest Post #1
Deleted Scene
Guest Post #2
Character Interview

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