by kmcallister

Writing has been a life-long passion for me. Over the course of the last decade, I’ve dipped my toes in the waters of publication by submitting short articles and poetry to a variety of publications. In 2008, I set aside a novel-in-progress to devote my energies fully to a story that had captivated me body and soul. Four years later, I finished Passionate Embrace: Faith, Flesh, Tango. The manuscript won the Luci Shaw Prize for Creative Writing in my Masters program in 2012, found its way to publication in 2013, and was a Word Award finalist in 2014. It is a great encouragement to me that my work has been well-received and is finding its way into readers’ hearts around the world.

Passionate Embrace Book Cover

Passionate Embrace: Faith, Flesh, Tango

A vividly sensual story of faith and doubt, beauty and desire, body and soul, and tango.

What readers are saying about Passionate Embrace
This is a sumptuous story, dramatic, literally an invitation to the dance. It made me want to tango along with Sandra. I read it straight through, drawn into it as she was when first invited to tango. She daringly compares learning the dance with learning to pray; each is a movement of faith. That this new venture into physical intimacy was the means of grace that led her to greater spiritual intimacy with God is the refreshing surprise of this striking and moving account of renewal.
Luci Shaw
Luci Shaw
Poet and Author
“Passionate Embrace is a remarkable achievement. An honest and skillfully narrated story of a slow but steady realization that the body—any body’s body but never excluding the Christian body—is also the body of Christ. Vander Schaaf grew up in church but it was on a Vancouver dance floor, learning to dance the Tango of all things, that she learned that 'the body has much to do with religion' (General Gordon). This story belongs in the company of Miriam and the women dancing with timbrels after their deliverance from the darkest days of Egypt, and with David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant, while his wife Michel looked on with contempt.
Eugene Peterson
Professor and Author
Vander Schaaf brings us into a beautiful, vibrant space, filled with visceral details of a life lived authentically. With poetic sensibility, she tells the story of how the beauty of tango lead her on an intimate and profound journey. Vander Schaaf brings spirit and body to all her words, words that celebrate vulnerability, resilience, and yearning. We are led as by a beautiful dance partner, with words that dance on the page.
Celeste Snowber
PhD, Dancer, Educator, and Author
Now this is refreshingly different. A Vancouver Christian found her way out of depression, cancer and a stultified faith through the sensuality of Argentinian tango. Along the way she rediscovered the divine. Sandra Vander Schaaf explores the body, the erotic, God and the power of mutual human attraction in her intoxicating new book.
Douglas Todd
Writer and Columnist, The Vancouver Sun
I could not stop turning the pages. Sandra has taken an number of themes and addressed them with humour, integrity, a light touch, and the sure-footedness of a tango dancer. This is a story of the flesh made sacred, and the sacred made flesh. And it’s set to music, tango music.
Nicola Aimé
Dazzling and sensuous, Passionate Embrace boldly confronts our skewed assumptions about what makes a body beautiful. Vander Schaaf’s dance lessons form a pilgrimage, each step a disciplined practice of breath and motion, her words as graceful as the movements she describes. In the tango Vander Schaaf discovers the miraculous gift of being a body, and she, in turn, shares her gifts of eloquence, honesty, wisdom, and beauty.
Kurt Armstrong
Author and Editor