by Bethany Turner


  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



On Researching Pop Culture

by Author Bethany Turner


The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is chock-full of pop culture references. As is most of my writing. As are most of my conversations. As is my brain. I’ve been asked, “How much time did you have to spend researching all of those movies/television shows/landmark cultural moments?”

Whenever I’m asked that question – and it happens more often than you might think – I’m always just the tiniest bit torn. Should I tell the inquisitive reader about the hours of internet-scouring and days of Netflix-binging? Should I talk about the trips to the Smithsonian television exhibit? Should I confess that I exchanged countless emails with experts on each individual subject?

Or should I tell the truth?

Well, of course I ultimately tell the truth, and the truth is that there is usually no research involved. No scouring, no trips, no experts. There is binging but never in the name of research. The pop culture information that I obsessively weave in and out of scenes and dialogue? That’s stuff I just know.

It began early, and I came by it honestly. The diverse musical knowledge was imparted by parents who were always playing records and cassettes and always singing. My mom entertained me by acting out the entire Original Broadway Cast recording of Camelot with my stuffed animals. (Land Before Time’s Littlefoot rivaled even Robert Goulet himself in his portrayal of Lancelot.) And we all went, as a family, to see Barry Manilow in concert. I arrived as a resentful adolescent who intended to read the whole time rather than listen to some lame dude sing, and I departed a devoted, unashamed Fanilow.

Much of the knowledge came from quality time spent around the television – and it really was quality time. Those were the days of appointment viewing. There were shows we all watched – experienced, really – together. We lost Mr. Hooper together on Sesame Street. Later, we couldn’t wait to see if Alex P. Keaton chose Courtney Cox or that Marty girl that we didn’t like – though neither of them were Tracy Pollan, with whom we’d all watched him fall in love as he danced with her to “At This Moment” by Billy Vera. Years passed and we tried to remain hopeful that somehow, against all odds, we lived in a world where it was possible for both ER and Chicago Hope to survive and thrive. (That world did not exist then, nor did it exist later when 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip dared to co-exist, ever so briefly.)

I’ve often told the story of the first (ahem…only) writing award I ever won. It was 1987, I believe. Maybe early 1988. I was in the second grade and made it to the finals of a state-level contest, at which point we were given the assignment of writing an essay detailing which living person we would have lunch with if given the opportunity, and we had to explain why we chose that person, and how we imagined the lunch progressing. Well, it was the 1980s, and I think pretty much everyone chose Reagan, Gorbachev, or Margaret Thatcher. Or, if they chose to appear sensitive and introspective rather than politically astute, they chose their 101-year-old great-great-grandmother who had lived so much life and had so much wisdom to impart.

I chose John Stamos, who had recently worked his way into my heart as Uncle Jesse on Full House.

So when the fictional Sarah Hollenbeck imagines the metaphorical angel on her shoulder, of course the angel takes the form of Roma Downey. As Sarah turns away from the life she has known and becomes determined to live her life for the Lord, of course she compares herself to Fraulein Maria in The Sound of Music, leaving her worldly goods behind her – apart from the one dress which is so ugly the poor don’t want it. And when Sarah’s best friend, Piper, quotes scripture which includes the word “Abba,” the Aramaic word for father, of course Sarah has images of the Apostle Paul in platform shoes grooving to “Dancing Queen” flood her mind.

To Sarah, pop culture is commensurate with comfort, and the same goes for me. The difference, however, is that Sarah has unknowingly used pop culture to help fill the void of what has been missing in her life. To me, movies, music, and television are among the greatest representations of a life with loved ones who’ve always helped keep me filled and overflowing.

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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