Fans everywhere are familiar with Nicholas Sparks' poignant emotionally driven novels. In his latest read, he changes his focus: Though there is a primary love story, the secondary plot involves romantic obsession, mystery and irrational jealousy.

A widow of four years, Julie Barenson finally begins to date again in her small town of Swanson, NC. Soon, she finds herself torn between Richard Franklin, a Cleveland consultant, and Mike Harris, her best friend. When sparks fly between Julie and Mike, she gently lets Richard down.

In a twisted web of potentially fatal attraction, Richard seems to turn up everywhere Julie goes, and the local police don't believe he is stalking her. The stakes rise higher, and soon Julie and Mike find themselves running for their lives. With the sinister subplot providing the background for Mike and Julie's romance, Sparks' latest is proof that he's just as proficient writing suspenseful fiction as he is writing classic tearjerkers. (Apr., 382 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick