It’s no secret that I found this book to be an average read.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner follows Sarah Hollenbeck, who recently became a Christian. However, Sarah fears she will not be accepted into the Christian community due to her past as a steamy romance author, especially since her publisher is demanding a new bestselling book. On top of that, Sarah develops feelings for the pastor at the new church she attends.
I was interested in reading this book after seeing the synopsis. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck definitely did not sound like any other Christian fiction book that I have read in the past. After reading this book, there were several aspects that I really enjoyed and several aspects that I feel needed to be improved upon in order to make it more successful.
For me, one of the best aspects of this book was the main character. Sarah Hollenbeck struggles with very real and difficult emotions and situations that sometimes are shied away from in other Christian fiction. Additionally, Sarah is someone who recently became a Christian, so readers can see where her faith starts and grows throughout the novel, which I do not see as often in Christian fiction. I think Sarah is very relatable and I appreciate how she doesn’t stray from topics that may be considered taboo for the genre. On the other hand, there were topics in this novel that I wished were a little more fleshed out.
That being said, the story itself was lacking for me. I found the first half of the novel more solid than the second half. The second half of the novel was a little too all over the place. I didn’t like the random plot with the girl from college or the media aspect of the second part of the novel as I felt it took a lot away from Sarah’s character growth. Additionally, the relationship aspect of the novel moved a little fast for me. I also didn’t find the relationship to be anything that stood out among others for me.
Overall, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck was an average read for me. While I can see myself picking up more books from this author in the future, I hope that some aspects I found a little underwhelming could be improved upon in the next book. I give this book three out of five stars.
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