Happy Tuesday, Friends!
I’m so excited because Sarah Monzon is here!
I’ve been a fan of hers since The Isaac Project and have been blessed to have her as a critique partner for a couple of years. She’s a wonderful person and her books are so God inspiring.
We’re going to talk about her latest release, With You Here, which is totally swoon worthy.
Let’s get started!
Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today! I’m so excited to talk about With You Here. But before we get to Seth
and Amber, let’s talk about the series as a whole. Did it all start with one character or did you know it would be a series from the start?
Sarah: I knew I wanted to do a series with each book in the series featuring a different sibling before I even started writing the first book. I did not, however, know that the series would be time-slip until I sat down to write and the character of Isabella Castellano in Finders Keepers started telling me how her story intertwined with that of Trent and Summer.
Toni: I love that! And Finders Keepers started my love for the Carringtons. So Germany is the backdrop for this time-slip read. Tell us, what kind of research you did or were you fortunate enough to take a trip there?
Sarah: I wish I had been able to go to Germany and experience the rich culture there for myself. Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough. For the book, however, I read articles online, looked at dozens of photographs, and immersed myself in other peoples’ traveling experiences.
Toni: I haven’t been to Germany either. Oh wait, I did through the pages of your book. 😉 Now, let’s get to the characters! I have to admit Seth is my absolute favorite, but tell me who your favorite is and why?
Sarah: Oh man. I’m not sure I could choose a favorite, but I can tell you that I identified most with Amber. I grew up in church knowing Jesus’ loves me. There were no prodigal son years and no come to Jesus moment. Because of this I never felt like I had a real, much less powerful, testimony to share. It took a really long time for me to realize the constancy of God in my life *was* my testimony.
Toni: I love that! If your contemporary characters picked a life verse, what would it be and why? For your historical characters, what would they choose as the defining moment to choose God?
Sarah: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Amber doubts her calling and Seth is a new Christian. They both need to cling to The One who does the calling and The One who will do it faithfully.
For Christyne and Lorenz, their belief and choosing God above all else really is a life and death decision. Will they cling to their faith and be hunted as heretics or kowtow to the lawful religion and live in relative freedom?
Toni: Fantastic verse! I think I’ll post that one on a sticky note. 🙂 Before we end this awesome gab fest, let’s talk about you! Out of all your characters, who are you most like and who are you least like?
Sarah: Almost all of my characters share a little piece of me, whether that’s a commonality in backstory or personality. That being said, the character *most* like me without a doubt would be Emory Blake from Bookishly Ever After. We’re both notoriously socially awkward with an inability to small talk and desire to escape into the pages of books. We also both share a history of inability to communicate because of past scars and amazing heroes who were incredibly patient and loved us through that.
Toni: Awww. Emory might be one of my favorite characters of yours so I think it works out great since we’re friends in real life. 🙂 And yay for heroes! Now, do you listen to music or prefer complete silence when writing?
Sarah: I have to have it quiet to write. I get too distracted with noise around me otherwise.
Toni: Give me music! All the music. Are you a pantser or a plotter and would you ever try the reverse method?
Sarah: The idea of plotting gives me hives! I usually have a general idea of where the story is heading but prefer to let the characters guide me through their story. So, in other words, I’m 100% a pantser.
Toni: #KindredSpirits. Last but not least, what can we expect next from you? And please tell us we don’t have to wait long!
Sarah: I have a new series in the works! I’m straying away from the time-slip with this one and dipping my toes more fully into the romantic comedy subgenre. A little sweet, a little sassy, but a whole lot of fun.
Toni: I’m so excited (and clapping with glee!). Praying for this new series! Readers, do you have any questions for the awesome Sarah Monzon?
About the Book
Holy Roman Empire, 1527
In the wake of Martin Luther’s religious reforms, Princess Christyne von Heidelbraum is compelled by her sense of duty to help ease the burden of her people. When she stumbles upon a dying man in the woods, she vows to aid him—even when she discovers the arrow shot in his leg was put there by a heretic hunter. With both her physical and spiritual well-being in danger, she must choose between conscience or adhering to the laws of the Empire.
Doubting her calling to become a hospital chaplain, Amber Carrington takes time off from her theology studies to volunteer with refugees in Germany. Working with children, making a difference, reconnecting with the conviction that once drove her—these were her expectations. An instant attraction to a professional soccer player wasn’t a part of the plan…and she can’t let him distract her from her purpose.
As a new Christian, Seth Marshall is determined to put his popularity as a world-renowned footballer to good use. Unfortunately, old habits and public opinions are hard to overcome. When he falls hard and fast for Amber Carrington, his former life—and her no-dating policy—may block his perfect shot for the woman he loves.
Whenever I see a meme or something related to With You Here, my first thoughts are SETH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Y’all, Ms. Monzon creates wonderful, swoon-worthy heroes that will make you sigh with the romance of it all and put you right in your feelings. With Seth Marshall, she knocked it out the park. (Or should I say GOAL!! since he’s a soccer player?) He’s charming, witty, and a bad boy who’s been redeemed. S.W.O.O.N!
If I pulled favorite quotes from With You Here, the majority would come from Seth. Not that I’m obsessed or anything, it’s just that he’s that great of a hero. But wait, there are 3 other important characters. 3!!!
Amber Carrington is a girl I’d befriend. She has a heart for Jesus and a desire to help his people. What more could you want in a friend? Plus I kind of adore her brothers. 😉
Add a princess, a real stinkin’ princess, and I was hooked. Christyne knows there’s more to faith but just can’t quite put her finger on what, until Lorenz comes into the picture. I loved her bravery and her blossoming romance with Lorenz. I might have been holding my breath through some of her scenes. If it had been a movie, I would have covered my face with my hands, peeking through my fingers.
All in all, Sarah Monzon took me on a journey I’ve come to expect from her. One filled with deep-seated truths, swoony romance, and amazing research that pulls us right into the scene.
*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. My review was not required nor influenced.
About the Author
Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.
Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.