Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Nicholas Sparks - Safe Haven

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.
But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

Comment: I purchased this book last year not only because I had read the author before, so I knew his style and what to expect, but also because this particular title was recommended to me due to the heroine's reluctance to embark on a romance. I was really curious to see someone fall in love despite not wanting to and I like those types of stories.
In this book we meet Katie, a young woman with a mysterious past and who wants to be left alone, earn her money and stay out of the spotlight. But Katie is pretty and she needs things for the house she's renting, so she meets Alex, a widower who owns the shop where Katie goes to. Alex starts to just be polite to Katie but when she helps with his daughter, Alex starts thinking about her differently.
They start to become friends, then attracted to each other, then they fall in love... all is well but Katie's past comes to bother her again and will put in jeopardy the peace she so painstakingly won...
This story is very different from the usual books by the author. It's not as lame and intentionally sad as some other titles and I liked how simple the story was when we consider the details used. I don't think this is a perfect story because there are two little things I couldn't put aside that I think were badly done. Not that they ruined the story, only that the way they were inserted made some things look like they were going into exaggerated territory and that was distracting, in my opinion.
I felt very engrossed in the story. This is more thriller oriented although it's not heavy or focused on that as a normal thriller would be. I liked how the author picked a known subject and didn't introduce too many flashback scenes as one would think, preferring to focus on Katie's life now and how she was coping to what happened to her and how she deals with things now. I appreciated it that Katie only wanted to life a quiet life, she didn't completely change her personality and she took her time telling herself she could fall in love. Sure, her relationship to Alex was slow paced but I liked that.
The romance is one of the author's writing best characteristics. We always know a love story will happen and in this case I liked how quiet and subtle it begun. I don't think it's easy for any woman in Katie's shoes or who's went through a similar experience to trust a man again and to be certain of his intentions. It was good Katie took her time and we could see many scenes with them before anything happened. I liked how they fell in love with each other.
Alex is a wonderful hero, of course, and I had no problem picturing him in my head.
The plot has some issues that surely would be very difficult to happen in real life, namely Katie's tactics to be out of the radar. I wonder how easy it could actually be? I mean, it's hard to imagine situations like those described, not about what led her to run but how she run. It seems so far fetched. But if someone feels trapped and without options... despite that, I think the author did a good job in portraying her need to escape and her wish to start again somewhere else.
My doubts are mostly about one of Katie's friends, someone she meets and who helps her to just talk, let it out of her chest but then we know of that person's real intent. I think it was too weird and it didn't feel as smooth as the rest of the story. Like the author thought about it just to add some drama, which I totally think was unnecessary. I won't go into spoilers but that friend didn't have to exist the way she did, I think things could have been done differently.
At the end of the book, something bad happens. Thankfully, no one important dies - what a relief! - but something happens that affects Katie and Alex's lives and although I understand the added drama again, it's still something avoidable and without much importance to everything anyway.
After all things considered, I think this was a good story, I enjoyed reading it, I think the good parts were much better than the things I'd exclude and honestly, I'm surprised the author can deliver such simple but emotional stories without all the exaggeration he sometimes puts in his books.
The HEA didn't felt as detailed as I wished and maybe an epilogue or a bit more closure in the final scenes would have been interesting, but I'm not very worried about it because I had a good time overall, and liked the book.
Grade: 8/10

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