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Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,289 ratings  ·  438 reviews
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 futur ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Fleming H. Revell Company (first published October 2017)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  1,289 ratings  ·  438 reviews

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Susan Snodgrass
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really tried to like this book. I truly did. I had heard loads of good buzz about it and thought that it sounded very interesting, so I wanted to read it. I realize I'm the odd man out here, so to speak, because the reviews are generally good. But I was very disappointed in this book. The book is marketed as Christian fiction, but I didn't really find all that much inspiration in it.

Sarah Hollenbeck has just been divorced from her cheating husband and is not sure of her identity anymore. She
Overall, it's clear that Bethany Turner has talent as a writer. I'd like to see some improvements in plot/pacing and characterization, but her prose has promise.

First issue was pacing, and I think this was my main gripe. Turner chooses to show us the before and after but none of the extra parts that play into Sarah's huge turnaround. The moment where Sarah says she trusts God when having coffee with Piper is literally less than a paragraph. It comes out of left field and Sarah isn't really even
Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)
I loved this book for the humor and the various perspectives on modern mainstream Christian life, from the new convert (Sarah), to the lifelong member (Piper), to the young pastor (Ben). It was written in a way that had me hooked to not just the story, but the characters, and how they dealt with the drama in their lives. The romance between Sarah and Ben developed quickly but I enjoyed the time we got to spend *in* the romance, not just leading up to it, and all the great and important conversat ...more
Chautona Havig
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Secret Confessions of a disappointed reader:

By chapter six, I was done. Seriously. I did not like the character, I didn’t like the plot, I didn’t like any of it. I couldn’t see where it was going.
But I kept reading because I really wanted to love this book.
Here’s what I discovered (minor spoilers).
This really is kind of a modern telling of Sense and Sensibility. Sarah Hollenbeck is Marianne Dashwood. Her practical friend who says it like it is (my favorite character), is Elinor. Sarah’s ex-
Toni Shiloh
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bethany Tuner’s debut novel is the quintessential rom com. I laughed out loud so much my husband questioned my sanity and of course the actual hilarity of the book. And I smiled so many times I was pretty sure my cheeks were going to get stuck in that position.

This is such a great Christian rom com and it touches on sooo many issues. For one, what’s next after praying the salvation prayer. The other talks about Christian fiction and what readers want. The struggle of staying pure before marriage
Sarah Monzon
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I were better at writing reviews so I could do this book justice. First off, I have to say, I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I love the voice of the author. I love the unique premise (seriously, I'm tired of reading the same plot over and over again). I love the humor in it. I love watching how someone stumbles around figuring out "how to be Christian." I love the bravery of the author and Revell (the publishing house) for stepping out of the "box" of Christian fiction and tackling an honest, real subj ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really struggled with this book and how to rate it. I've saved my notes made part way through below. I'll add to them that I decided if I'd picked this up without the hype and just read it as a Christian romance I wouldn't have disliked it as much and might have given it 2 stars. But because it was supposed to be a new-type of more realistic romance, telling it like it really is, I was quite disappointed. I still wouldn't have loved it, though, because it's so totally unrealistic and full of c ...more
Rachel McMillan
I LOVE THIS AUTHOR and I WILL READ ANYTHING SHE WRITES FOREVER --- fyi. And she deserves a space in the Inspy writing and publishing world and she will continue to teach us about ourselves and encourage us to hold up a lens and look inside...

I read this book basically in one sitting (well two sittings on two different flights and over a layover) en route to Michigan to speak and sign and speak. ( best weekend ever).

And I should preface by saying this is not Rachel catnip material --- at least wh
Feb 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was not good. I was really looking forward to a Christian novel that focuses on ~real~ topics. But, Francine Rivers (who is the only author I have found that does this correctly) is too long and sometimes dark. So, I also wanted something light hearted. This sucked. I don't know how it has such a high rating. The romance was extremely fast, the Christian aspect wasn't really explained and neither was the struggles except for "I know that's not how a Christian would act, but I've prayed abou ...more
☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆
I LOVED this book! It was a hilarious christian fiction novel. I am glad I picked this one up because the characterisation was on point, the plot was well paced and this book was beyond hilarious! I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To find this review and others please visit
Jocelyn Green
A very light, fun read, which made it a very unusual one for this die-hard historical fiction reader. I laughed out loud several times at the heroine's first-person stream of consciousness point of view. Can't wait to see what Bethany Turner writes next. She seriously cracks me up. ...more
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Debut author Turner has an incredibly unique voice that draws readers into the story and won't let them go until the gorgeous conclusion. This is a modern Christian novel that touches on realistic subjects and themes and shows how any situation can be directed back to God. The romance is both scorching-hot and completely appropriate, which is a difficult task to pull off, yet Turner does so amazingly. The novel is filled with humor, stellar characterization and conflict balanced with faith and l ...more
Alysha (For The Love of Christian Fiction)
I’m not gonna lie...I was not going to finish this book. While the idea was cute, unique and fun, I just felt it was leaning HEAVILY towards mainstream fiction.
The romance was SO fast, and I normally never complain about that. But something about it felt wrong, even though they were technically doing it right. It got a bit steamy in a few places...
I did enjoy how they kept God as the forefront of their relationship, and the characters had some serious flaws and insecurities. It made them human.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This debut had me laughing out loud multiple times. Yes, out loud and multiple times. Main character Sarah is wealthy and divorced and looking for something to do. She turns to both reading and writing.

The other main characters are Ben and Piper. While they were both great, I simply adored Piper. She's that friend that will give it to you straight even if the truth is painful.

I related to the references in the novel such as The Thorn Birds, Stevie Nicks and Touched by an Angel. While some reader
Mikal Dawn
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review to come. But believe me. Just go buy the book already. I DIE. 😍❤😍❤
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My cheeks hurt from grinning so much! Funny, awkward, goofy... and frank. This book has garnered quite the controversy as readers deal with that verboten subject -- desire. Dare I say we seem to be a passionate lot when it comes to passion in our Christian fiction?

If you aren't into romance novels, this isn't the book for you because The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is pure romance. It's toe-curling and swoon inducing, making a fainting couch a very real necessity for the duration of the read
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It has been really hard for me to decide on a rating for this book. I went with 4 stars and here's why. First the writing is lovely. The characters are well developed and the story very compelling. The romance is steamy without crossing the line, in my opinion. So why did I take off a star? I had a lot of personal issues with the pastor falling for a women he barely knew who had only become a Christian basically the day before. Now, I don't have a problem with"insta-love" (love at first sight) b ...more
I'm a picky reader. I'm picky about characters, I'm picky about plot, and I'm picky about writing. In order for me to enjoy a book, those three things have to be done to my satisfaction. With this book, it was. I. Loved. It. It's funny too because I ordered it online last minute, but didn't have any high expectations. Well all I can say is, I was impressed. The writing was solid, and I laughed quite a few times throughout the novel. There wasn't much of a huge plot, but that was okay because the ...more
Caitlyn Santi
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Squeee! THIS BOOK IS SUPER AWESOME! I despised having to set it down, found myself reading it at every opportunity, and as soon as I finished I was instantly craving a reread! I'm serious, TSLOSH is happiness in book form! I swooned, laughed until my face hurt, and turned the final page with a contented sigh and a heart that was renewed, uplifted, and inspired!
This is a MUST READ for all Christian rom-com fans! 😍😍😍😍😍

I read this book for pure pleasure. No review required.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious. Honest. This novel takes everything you think you know about Christian fiction and totally shakes it until you have something so wonderful, delightful, surprising, and authentic, something that captures the agonising (and sometimes embarrassing) beauty of life and love.

Newly divorced, Sarah Hollenbeck turns to writing to fill the gaps in her life. When poetry doesn't work out, she tries romance. And surprisingly has huge success. Now a hugely successful author of three very steamy rom
Christine Indorf
God I love this book and yesterday it came out on audiobook and it was wonderful. The narrator was excellent. The Story of Sarah who just got divorce. So Sarah tries to write a book and when it became famous with the smut it had in it she became famous. A year after her friend Piper lead her to Christ. When at church she meets the pastor and both fell in love right away. Can she become a person that Christ would be proud of and can she have a Christ center relationship. This book was hysterical, ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK is a first-person, chicklit style book. Reeling from her divorce, Sarah is struggling to find her identity apart from her ex-husband's trophy wife. So she joins book clubs. And in the process discovers she can write. And she begins to make friends. Unfortunately, her best friend is judgmental and drops her like a hot potato when she learns Sarah writes steamy romances.

But Sarah's friend returns. And leads her to Christ. Which means that Sarah is losing it all

Bethany Turner has made a fan for life. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck tells the story of an author who becomes a Christian all the while still having a contract with a publisher that wants her to write what is described as a scandalous novel. A novel she thinks she can't write now. Sarah also begins to attend a new church where she meets the Pastor and immediately has feelings for him. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck touches on many issues long time believers and new believers struggle
extraordinary ordinary whimsy
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hold on to your cellphones 'cause I'm about to make a strong claim. This is the Christian Fiction I wish all other contemporary Christian Fiction books were like. It's de-lightful. Funny and real. The characters love God but they also struggle with attraction and desires. Hallelujah!

And let's go back to funny. Y'all it is SO funny. I swear I smiled and chuckled through the entire book. Case in point:

"And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father."" Piper recited those words from Romans 8 to me, and I cou

Janet Ferguson
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, fiction
What a fresh style! I enjoyed every second of reading this book and laughed almost the entire time. It's very different for inspirational fiction in that it deals with physical desires in a funny but realistic way. ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such a fun story! The author had me laughing out loud many times. The first few chapters built a bit slowly for me, but I persevered and things really picked up.

It was an adventure to read about Sarah’s broken marriage, rise to fame, and ultimate decision to follow Jesus. And that was where the story really picked up the pace. There was attraction galore between the two main characters and the author did a good job of illustrating the feelings and actions between Sarah and Ben, while st
Susie Finkbeiner
I was looking for a fun, but NOT fluffy read (I'm not a reader of fluff), so I turned to Bethany Turner's debut. It is fun! It's giggle worthy, even. But it isn't without substance, in fact I was glad to find quite a bit of heft and good themes throughout. Even this "I don't read romance" girl was pulled in. Why? Because it was funny. That counts for a lot.

I need to note that other reviewers have been offended by certain discussions between two characters about struggling to resist the temptati
Varina Denman
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sweet romance with spunk. I love Bethany Turner's voice and writing style! ...more
Christine Indorf
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so fun to read. Sarah after she wrote a Fifty Shade of Grey type of book now becomes a Christian and fall in love with the pastor. Sarah(Applesause) is so funny. She makes the character not hard to love even thru her trials. Ben fall madly in love with Sarah and both try to live a Godly life together, which at times can be hard. I love the commit they form with each other and the love they share and God love they share with each other. My favorite part is Sarah sense of humor she h ...more
~Wonderfully romantic and sweet!~

Happy sigh! This novel was an absolute delight to read! Turner hooked me early on and held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed her writing style, wit, humor, and insight; as well as the delicate balance of romantic tension and Christian values she wove throughout the story. A story well done; I look forward to her next!
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Bethany Turner has been writing since the second grade, when she won her first writing award for explaining why, if she could have lunch with any person throughout history, she would choose John Stamos. She stands by this decision. Bethany now writes pop culture–infused rom-coms for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. She liv ...more

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“And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father." Piper recited those words from Romans 8 to me, and I couldn't help but laugh when she explained to me that "Abba" was Aramaic for "Father" and that the apostle Paul hadn't actually been in the mood for a little "Dancing Queen."
You don't know that he wasn't. I smiled. You don't know that he and Timothy, or Barnabas, didn't occasionally release a little tension among the Corinthians by belting out Super Trouper.”
“I couldn't help but wonder if we, as women, had always possessed the instinctive skills for detecting cattiness in other women, or if the knowledge had been taught to us throughout our lives by the great masters of the trade, such as Joan Collins and Linda Evans on Dynasty.” 1 likes
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