‘Sovereign Ground’ by Hilarey Johnson: A Review


(Click here or on the picture above to buy).

Synopsis (from Amazon):

“It isn’t like I dreamed I’d take off my clothes for money when I grew up, but life doesn’t always happen the way you want.

“I was desperate when I walked into the Wild Lily. When I left, it was more than just a hundred dollars I’d gained. I had hope.

“But every time I think I’m in control—I’m not. Every time I think I have a friend—I don’t. And now, the footsteps behind me are getting louder.”

Ever since Health and Welfare dumped Sparrow at her half brother’s house, she’s lived in fear of her grandfather’s curse. When her sister-in-law decides to kick her out, Sparrow lies about her age and applies as busser in a strip club. After playing dress-up, the dancers nudge her onto stage.

The possibility of independence is fleeting. Within weeks, a stranger stabs one of the customers and strangles the dancer next to Sparrow. Helpless, she wakes in the arms of a police officer while the bar burns down.

Hayden, the Christian cop who rescues her might have ulterior motives. Do the footsteps near her window at night belong to him—or is her curse getting bolder?

About Hilarey Johnson (from Amazon):

Hilarey Johnson teaches martial arts in Idaho with her husband and three children. She keeps a larger than normal, urban garden with chickens. When she isn’t writing or getting lost, she loves to cook foreign foods and read redemptive fiction. Someday Hilarey hopes to time travel.

You can connect with Hilarey on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Review:

*This review contains a spoiler. I give an alert directly before the spoiler begins and immediately after it ends.

I give Sovereign Ground by Hilarey Johnson 4 out of 5 stars.

Desperate to get away from a bad home life and break free of a curse spoken over her as a baby by her grandfather, Sparrow takes the first job she can get: dancing in a club. As she goes deeper into the night life, she meets Hayden, a cop who invites her to church and even helps her find temporary shelter with a Christian family.

One might think that when Sparrow is presented with Jesus and the reality of Christian love, that would be the end of that, especially coming from a Christian author.

Hilarey Johnson stays real. Hayden’s Christian friends think Sparrow is bad news for him, and Sparrow is drawn back to dancing again and again. For her, dancing is money, and money is freedom.

I completely identify with Sparrow’s desire to be free (and also, her love of grape pop), so while I have never had to face the choices she faces, I understand why she makes them. Sparrow is direct, smart (an avid reader), and strong, and so not only is Sovereign Ground a great story, Sparrow is a great protagonist.

I really appreciated the reminder that Christian terminology makes little to know sense to those who haven’t really been exposed to church, but love and pursuit and care speak volumes. I also enjoyed the exploration of how powerful words spoken over us can be in impacting how we see ourselves.

I was about halfway through this book before I considered how someone in the sex industry or having come out of the industry might feel about it. (Having struggled with depression most of my life, I wrestle when a Christian author misses the mark writing about it, no matter how praised they are). I was relieved to read positive feedback from a former madame and a former stripper at the end of the book. It really affirmed how I felt reading the book.


I am not sure how I feel about how Sparrow and Hayden’s relationship ended up. Not because of their differences, but because I am confused about why Hayden pursued Sparrow the way he did. Attraction? A genuine concern not just for Sparrow, but for all women in the sex industry? A combination of both?


I highly recommend Hilarey Johnson’s Sovereign Ground to Christian adults and fans of suspense. This may even be a good book to read and discuss in a youth group.

Can’t wait to read Heart of Petra!!!


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