Tag: Revell

#ThrowbackThursday | Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Thin Ice by Irene Hannon. This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

Thin Ice started with a bang and didn’t let up all the way right to the last page. Lance McGregor is a brand new FBI agent who finds himself with a mystery involving Christy Reed, an attractive ice skater who appears to be receiving letters from her sister, who supposedly died in a house fire two months earlier. Lance and Christy are both excellent characters, and their mutual attraction almost sizzles on the page.

Hannon adds to the tension by including scenes from the viewpoint of the kidnapper, and these were well done: too many novelists give their evildoers horrific childhoods, as though that is to blame for their adult actions. Hannon shows that while this antagonist did have a difficult upbringing, he was also a cruel boy who has grown up to be a cruel man who blames others for his less-than-perfect life.

It’s classic Irene Hannon

A strong hero with a military background (and the emotional baggage that brings), a beautiful yet self-sufficient heroine who understands people (especially the hero), a suspense-driven plot with plenty of unpredictable twists and turns, and a strong underlying romantic tension. Add in a good dose of Christian faith, and you’ve got a classic Irene Hannon novel. She’s one of my favourite romantic suspense authors, and she delivers another winner with On Thin Ice. Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Irene Hannon

Author Photo: Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon is the best-selling author of more than 35 novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and the Daphne du Maurier Award for mystery/suspense. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri, USA.

Find Irene Hannon online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Thin Ice

After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.

You can find Thin Ice online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Thin Ice below:

Quote from A Secret to Die For: My name's Grace Callahan and someone's just broken into my house.

Book Review | A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

Another Gripping Thriller from Lisa Harris

Psychologist Grace Callahan suspected her client Stephen Shaw might be suffering from paranoia … but she reconsiders after a masked man breaks into her house looking for the key Shaw supposedly gave her.

It’s Detective Nathaniel Quinn’s first day back on the job when he’s assigned a suicide case that turns out to be murder. The victim is Stephen Shaw, and Grace’s business card is in Shaw’s pocket. It turns out that Nate used to be friends with Grace and her ex-husband.

Shaw worked in computer security and was also contracted to the FBI … or was he? A cryptic telephone message leads Grace and Nate on a chase to find the killer before the killer finds her.

A Secret to Die for is Christian romantic suspense at its best. The suspense starts on page one and doesn’t let up, while the the romantic thread takes a little longer to get going (which is appropriate. I’m always suspect of the relationships that begin in a high-stress situation, because I’m not convinced they’ll last). The Christian element is an underlying theme that gets more and more pronounced as the story progresses.

Overall, A Secret to Die for is another great romantic suspense novel from Lisa Harris. Recommended for fans of Irene Hannon and Diann Mills.

As an aside, I’m seeing a lot of suspense titles with these pink/purple covers with white text, and I love the effect!

Thanks to Baker Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lisa Harris

Lisa HarrisI’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

As a homeschooling mom, life is busy, but I see my writing as an extension of my ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization.

The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Find Lisa Harris online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Secret to Die For

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret–one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn’t simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan–and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

Find A Secret to Die For online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to A Secret to Die For below:

Click here to check out A Secret to Die For and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 42 | The Theory of Happily Ever After

It’s First Line Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line. Today I’m sharing from The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristen Billerbeck. I’m actually sharing the first two lines, because the first line only makes sense if you also read the second.

Here’s the first line:

First line: Life is filled with irony. I mean, I wrote the book on bliss, and currently I am the most miserable person I know.

About The Theory of Happily Ever After

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

Filled with memorable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, Kristin Billerbeck’s The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile–because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

You can find The Theory of Happily Ever After online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

#ThrowbackThursday | Pursued by Lisa Harris (Nikki Boyd #3)

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing a review I originally wrote for Suspense Sisters Reviews in May 2017, the third book in the Nikki Boyd series by Lisa Harris. Spoiler: if you like suspense novels, you should read the whole series, starting with Vendetta.

Pursued starts with a bang, literally, as Nikki Boyd’s plane crashes. No one notices the woman she was sitting beside disappear in the confusion following the crash, and when Nikki questions investigators, they seem to think she is traumatised and hallucinating, because the flight manifest says the seat next to her was empty.

That’s soon cleared up, and now Nikki has two days to find the missing Erika Hamilton. The race is on, and the pace never lets up. There are constant twists and turns as Nikki and her partner follow a trail of clues to find Nikki … and realise she’s not the only person they need to find. It’s a great plot, and a great read.

Pursued is the third book in The Nikki Boyd Files, and I hope it’s not the last! The series has an overall storyline of Nikki joining the police force to find her younger sister, who went missing ten years ago. There is also the romantic element, with her developing relationship with Tyler, the husband of Nikki’s dead best friend. I’d like to see these storylines resolved before I say goodbye to Nikki.

Pursued is a standalone novel and you don’t have to have read the earlier books in the series to understand it. But if you’re a suspense fan, you’ll want to read them all and it would be best to read them in order: Vendetta, then Missing, then Pursued. Recommended for all Christian suspense fans.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lisa Harris

Lisa HarrisI’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

As a homeschooling mom, life is busy, but I see my writing as an extension of my ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization.

The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Find Lisa Harris online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About Pursued

Nikki Boyd’s flight into Nashville was routine–up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing–and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can’t-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.

You can find Pursued online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Pursued below:

Book Review | Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

I’m not the biggest fan of writers writing novels about writers—it seems to take the advice to “write what you know” a little too literally for my taste. But Lady Jayne Disappears worked in spite of this, perhaps because Aurelie Harcourt is the transcriber for author Nathaniel Droll rather than the author himself … although that changes as the story moves forward.

Aurelie is trying to find the identity of her mother, who disappeared from her ancestral home of Lyndhurst Manor when she was a baby. Mr Rotherham is trying to find the identity of Nathaniel Droll (great name, by the way). And various members of the Harcourt household are keeping their own secrets as well …

Lady Jayne Disappears has a strong plot with an intriguing mystery and more than a hint of romance. The characters are strong and likeable, and many have their own secrets which adds to the overall mystery. The writing was excellent. I especially liked the many lines about reading and writing. Here are a few of my favourite:

Fiction was not always a lie, but a truth told in parallel to real life. A pill of advice disguised in an easy-to-swallow tale.

Reading is the perfect way to engage and excite your mind while appearing to merely pass the time.

There were also some excellent lines about human nature, such as:

Every girl is born with the ability to be herself. Many simply unlearn it because they do not like who that is, and they thing no one else will either.

I also liked the strong Christian thread, and the distinction between religion and true Christianity:

This house simply oozes religion, but has precious little of God.

My one problem with Lady Jayne Disappears was the number of anachronisms. I’m a history fan and a marketing major, and a character discussing book marketing in Victorian England isn’t right (my dictionary confirms my marketing lecturer was right: “marketing” in Victorian England was the activity of going to the market). Victorian English residents were also unlikely to “schlep”, and didn’t write checks (okay, that’s an Americanism rather than an anachronism). I also suspect they were more likely to eat French pastries than Danish.

I know, I know. Most people won’t notice these things, and they certainly shouldn’t allow them to detract from a solid debut novel with a unique twist. I hope to see more of Aurelie and Nathaniel Droll in future.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Joanna Davidson Politano

Author Photo - Joanna Davidson PolitanoJoanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives.

Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence.

She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan.

You can find Joanna online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Lady Jayne Disappears

Book Cover - Lady Jayne DIsappearsWhen Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.

You can find Lady Jayne Disappears online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Or click here to find Lady Jayne Disappears in my Amazon shop!

Book Review | Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

Oath of Honor is the first book in Lynette Easons new Blue Justice series. At first glace it looks similar to the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson or the Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey, in that it centres on a large family, most of whom are involved in law enforcement or other service occupations.

And it delivers. I fully expect stories about Brady, Lincoln, Ruthie, Chloe, and Derek St. John in the future. But this story focuses on Isabelle—Izzy—Derek’s twin.

The story was a little confusing at first, as there were a lot of characters to introduce—the six St. John siblings, as well as Izzy’s police partner, Kevin, his family, and other members of the police force … and the criminal classes.

But once I worked out who was who (and that Kevin was the victim, not the hero—oops) … Then the story really got going. This is not one of those books where I have a heap of quotes to share, because it was a pageturner. I was so engrossed in what was happening and in the growing relationship between Izzy and Ryan that I barely paused for breath.

Oath of Honor was great. A perfect Christian romantic suspense novel.

The suspense plot was excellent, with plenty of tension and twists, and the ongoing question of what Derek was doing. The romance was excellent, as Izzy and Ryan took tentative steps towards transitioning from friends and neighbours to something more. And there was a definite Christian aspect to it, which was good because I like my Christian fiction to have a discernable but not overbearing faith element.

In short, Oath of Honor was everything I look for in a Christian romantic suspense novel.

I’m looking forward to the next in the series. Recommended for romantic suspense fans. Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lynette Eason

Lynette EasonLynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching, Without Warning, Moving Target, and Chasing Secrets in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina.

Find Lynette Eason online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Oath of Honor

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she’s never without someone to hang out with–or fight with. And she knows they’ll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy’s investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll–including someone from her own family. With her dead partner’s handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy’s head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she’s had a secret crush on for years won’t leave her side?

With her signature fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Lynette Eason invites readers into a captivating new series where justice is a family affair.

You can find Oath of Honor online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Oath of Honor below:

Click here to find Oath of Honor and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon store!

Quote from Missing Isaac

Book Review | Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Missing Isaac is Valerie Fraser Luesse’s first novel, and I hope it won’t be her last.

Her writing style runs counter to some of the modern writing conventions. She uses dialect and non-standard spelling. There are unnecessary adverbs and repetition. The dialgoue tags are often clunky. The point of view is often distant, and slips into omniscient at times.

Yet it works despite these “errors”. Or perhaps because of them.

When Pete’s father dies in a farm accident, Pete’s relationship with Isaac is the one thing that keeps him going. It didn’t matter that Isaac was only a field hand, or that he was black—even in 1960’s Alabama.

But when Isaac disappears, leaving only his truck, no one seems much inclined to find out what happened. Except Pete.

Missing Isaac doesn’t fall neatly into any one genre. It’s part mystery, as Pete tries to find the truth of what happened to Isaac. It’s part family saga, as Pete grows up, and part romance, as he meets Dovey. And it’s part historical fiction, in that it’s a story set in a time far removed from ours, in terms of culture and attitude, if not years.

The writing is strong, with a unique and lyrical style, and a lot of home truths. This line struck me as particularly relevant:

Quote from Missing Isaac

It’s Dovey talking to Pete—the privileged white boy/man who doesn’t understand his privilege because it’s all he’s ever known. It could equally be talking to those in the modern world who don’t understand why #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter are newsworthy.

Missing Isaac is a strong debut novel, with a solid story driven by strong characters and set in a time of great social change. Recommended.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Valerie Fraser Luesse

Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Her work has been anthologized in the audio collection Southern Voices and in A Glimpse of Heaven, an essay collection featuring works by C. S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John Wesley, and others.

As a freelance writer and editor, she was the lead writer for Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society.

Luesse earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and her master’s degree in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She grew up in Harpersville, Alabama, a rural community in Shelby County, and now lives in Birmingham.

About Missing Isaac

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac.

In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete–and the people he loves most–will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

Find Missing Isaac online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong 

Read the introduction to Missing Isaac below:

Click here to find Missing Isaac and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon store!

Quote from Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

Book Review | Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

First in a New Series

I selected Vanishing Point to review because it was a Nikki Boyd novel, and I’ve previously read Lisa Harris’s three earlier novels featuring Nikki Boyd, and I thought this was part of the same series. It isn’t, but it is.

If you haven’t read the Nikki Boyd Files but you enjoy Christian thrillers with a touch of romance, then do yourself a favour and don’t read the rest of this review. It doesn’t share any information that wasn’t in the earlier books, but I think it would be a better read if you didn’t have the history. Or is that the future story?

The earlier novels, Vendetta, Missing, and Pursued, are the Nikki Boyd Files. Each is a contemporary Christian suspense novel, following Nikki Boyd through an case. Nikki is an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and while the major plot of each novel is a current investigation, the subplot is her search for her sister, who was abducted outside her school more than ten years ago and hasn’t been seen since.

I initially though Vanishing Point was a sequel to the Nikki Boyd Files, but it’s not.

It’s a prequel. The first quarter of the book is set in 2004, and is the investigation into an abduction and murder of a teenage girl. The investigators work out it’s actually the third murder by a previously unrecognised serial killer, dubbed the Angel Abductor by the press.

The book then leaps forward to 2005 and the disappearance of another girl—Sarah Boyd. We are introduced to Nikki as the older sister of the victim, a teacher in a local school. Despite being the character this new series is named for, Nikki Boyd doesn’t appear again until the halfway point, in 2006, when another girl disappears.

This is awkward.

I’ve read Vendetta, Missing, and Pursued, so I know the TBI still hasn’t caught the Angel Abductor in 2016. So at the halfway point, I’m wondering what’s going to happen in Vanishing Point? Is it going to skip ten years in the future and solve the case (in which case the entire first half of the book is backstory)? Or is it going to stay in 2006 and leave the central crime unsolved, a cold case?

Like I said, awkward.

It’s probably no secret what happens, because the book description gives it away. Not that I read the book description before I started reading the book—I requested my review copy based on the fact it was about Nikki Boyd, and by Lisa Harris.

It was a good read—plenty of suspense, a little romance, and a solid underlying Christian theme.

And even though Vanishing Point was a little awkward, I’ll definitely want to read more in the series. Recommended for fans of Christian suspense.

Thanks to NetGalley and Revell for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lisa Harris

Lisa HarrisI’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

As a homeschooling mom, life is busy, but I see my writing as an extension of my ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization.

The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Find Lisa Harris online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About Vanishing Point

During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies–number six–Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him–or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

Click below to find Vanishing Point online:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Vanishing Point below:

This is the story of my feeble attempts to make sense of my life

Book Recommendation | The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I’ve read a lot of books this year—some good, some great—but few that I want to read again. Right. Now. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is one.

Sarah McDermott divorces her high school sweetheart-husband after he cheats on her, and goes back to being Sarah Hollenbeck. Only she has no idea who Sarah Hollenbeck is, because she’s been the trophy wife for so long. She joins a book club, writes bad poetry, quits book club, and writes a naughty novel under the pen name of Raine de Bourgh. The novel goes immediately to the top of all the bestseller charts, as do the two sequels (because, donchaknow, that’s what happens to all debut novelists? Not).

And then Sarah Hollenbeck becomes a Christian. She says:

This book could be a detailed story of how my best friend led me to the Lord. It’s a good story … but that isn’t the story I need to tell. This is the story of my feeble attempts to make sense of my life.

Sarah realises she can’t write naughty novels any more. Instead, she joins her one remaining friend at church, where she immediately develops an inappropriate crush on the first guy she meets. Who happens to be the pastor. The married pastor. With a daughter. Oops.

I was picturing myself in his arms and imagining how his lips would feel on mine. And then I remembered that I was in church and that I had become a Christ-follower on Monday.

Fortunately for Sarah, the pastor turns out not to be married but widowed (fortunately for Sarah. Ben is somewhat taken aback at the thought of dating the notorious Raine de Bourgh, but he copes (lol). It’s interesting to watch their relationship unfold, because Ben’s first marriage was everything Sarah’s wasn’t.

Sarah decides to write Christian fiction, so reads some of what’s on sale:

The books I read didn’t feel realistic. At least, they weren’t my reality. Then again, my reality was messed up, so maybe I wasn’t the best judge.

I’ve had a lot of conversations along the same lines—too much Christian fiction doesn’t feel realistic (I’m not counting the suspense genre here. I’m perfectly happy for my reality not to include dead bodies and stalkers, and I’ll trust those authors are presenting their information accurately).

Sarah goes on to make another point that’s recently come up in my reading and freelance editing (yes, I’m a freelance fiction editor specialising in Christian romance): how the women in the books don’t seem to feel desire or temptation. Yes, I’d noticed that as well. In fact, I’ve read Christian romances where the hero and heroine had all the romantic attraction of siblings (that has even more of a yuck factor than a sex scene). I don’t want lots of hot-and-heavy in Christian fiction, but there needs to be some sexual attraction. Otherwise it’s not realistic.

I loved the humor.

There’s a scene where Sarah shares some poetry with her book club. Most are politely complimentary. One woman is not:

What’s with the subjects? It’s like you just flipped through the yellow pages until something jumped out at you. What’s next? Exterminators?
I looked at the papers in my hands and sheepishly shuffled “Insecticide Nuclear Winter” to the bottom of the stack.

And she (Sarah Hollenbeck? Bethany Turner? Both?) has great taste in actors:

Can you believe I couldn’t even get Martin Freeman to give me Benedict Cumberbatch’s phone number?

Yeah. I’ve got to read this again.

Recommended for fans of contemporary romance with humour, from authors such as Kara Isaac, Beth Troy, Becky Wade, and Melissa Tagg.

Thanks to Baker Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About The Secret Life of Sarah 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.

Find The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

ChristianBook | Goodreads

About Bethany Turner

Bethany TurnerBethany Turner has been writing since the second grade, when she won her first writing award for her essay explaining why, if she could have lunch with any person throughout history, she would choose John Stamos. Do-gooders all around her chose Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev, but it was Bethany’s ode to Uncle Jesse which walked away with the prize. More than 25 years later, her writing is still infused with pop culture and off-the-beaten-track ideas.

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.

Find Bethany Turner online at:

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Read the introduction to The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck below:

If you're willing to admit it ...

First Line Friday | Week 12 | The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line!

Today I’m sharing from The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

If you’re willing to admit it, you probably know me as Raine de Bourgh. Yes, that Raine de Bourgh. Did you blush at the mere mention of my pen name? Yeah. So did I.

I know not everyone likes reading novels written in the first person. But if you do—and especially if you enjoy contemporary romance with plenty of humour, you’re going to love The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I’ll have my full review posted in the next week or two. I might have to read it again first … and it’s a long time since I’ve loved a book that much.

About The Secret Life of Sarah 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.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Yes, rather each blogger listing each of the other bloggers—which is getting to be a longer and longer list each month—we’ve got our own site. It’s just sharing FirstLineFriday posts for now, but who knows what the future holds?

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!