Taylor McAden meets Denise Holt the night her son Kyle goes missing. Kyle, who has an auditory processing problem, wanders out of the car during a storm when Denise crashes her car into a tree. Taylor is one of the first responders to the site and he and the rest of the volunteer firefighters set out to find Kyle. Denise is taken to hospital and she and her son are reunited hours later when Taylor finally finds him on a hunch.
A few days later Taylor finds Denise and Kyle in the grocery store and gives them a lift home. Taylor realises that mother and son is in need of some help and his hero instinct kicks in. He starts driving Denise to work, plays with Kyle and helps around the house. He and Denise’s relationship continues to develop but there are some areas – particularly the way his father died when Taylor was a child and his risky stunts as a fireman – that he won’t discuss with her.
Taylor’s best friend Mitch and his wife Melissa welcome Denise into the community with open arms. It is Melissa that finally tells Denise how Taylor’s father died – in a fire while saving Taylor. When Denise tries to discuss it with him he gets angry and even when they resolve the fight Denise realizes that Taylor is pulling away from her. Nothing she seems to do is able to bridge the gap and she watches her relationship fall apart.
Denise finally draws the line when Taylor forgets to take Kyle to a game as promised. Kyle is disappointed and seems to regress in his talking-abilities progress, and she feels that it isn’t something she can allow as a mother.
Taylor and Mitch have a huge disagreement when Mitch realize that Taylor let Denise slip away. Taylor leaves with angry words between them and that night they are both called to a fire. Mitch dies and Taylor is haunted with grief. He heads to Denise and she is kind enough to hear him out. He tells her everything – about Mitch, his father and how he feels responsible for both deaths. He asks her to allow him back into her life and she says she needs to think about it. Will Taylor get past the deaths of the two people he was closest to his entire life? Will Denise be able to trust him again?
Nicholas Sparks always writes well, but some more than others. This book wasn’t his best or most entertaining, and I often felt that he wasn’t really into the story. It is written in his typical southern-style romance. I appreciated that Denise focused a lot on her son and not only on her relationship with Taylor. She seemed to realize that even while she didn’t plan to have the kid, once he was there he became her primary concern.
Taylor was an interesting character but also a bit annoying at times. He obviously had many issues to work through and that was a central plot in the book, but he seemed ridiculously emotionally immature for a grown man.
This is obviously a good choice if you are a big NS fan, but if you haven’t read his books I would recommend other books of his (like the Notebook)