Julie Barenson’s young husband left her two unexpected gifts before he died — a Great Dane puppy named Singer and the promise that he would always be watching over her. Now four years have passed. Still living in the small town of Swansboro, North Carolina, twenty-nine-year-old Julie is emotionally ready to make a commitment to someone again. But who? Should it be Richard Franklin, the handsome, sophisticated engineer who treats her like a queen? Or Mike Harris, the down-to-earth nice guy who was her husband’s best friend? Choosing one of them should bring her more happiness than she’s had in years. Instead, Julie is soon fighting for her life in a nightmare spawned by a chilling deception and jealousy so poisonous that it has become a murderous desire…
From Publishers WeeklyOn Christmas Eve, Julie Barenson, 25 years old and newly widowed, finds an unexpected present-a Great Dane pup that her late husband, Jim, had arranged for her to receive after he died from a brain tumor. On that melodramatic note, bestselling author Sparks (Nights in Rodanthe) begins his latest love story, one in which he combines elements of romance with those of a thriller. Julie’s new dog, Singer, turns out to be a better judge of character than she, which is unfortunate because the dog nearly gives away the book’s ending when he growls warily at Richard Franklin, the new man in Julie’s life. On the other hand, the pooch loves to be around Mike Harris, Jim’s best friend, who has grown to love Julie. Richard’s increasingly bizarre behavior causes Julie to break up with him, and his subsequent stalker tactics make for compelling action, especially when he plots to destroy the budding romance between Julie and Mike. But the writing is lax at best, with multiple point-of-view shifts in the course of one page or even one paragraph. Secondary characters are two-dimensional, such as Pete, the dumb cop who is taken in by the scheming Richard, and Andrea, Julie’s co-worker at the local hair salon, a low-class broad from the wrong side of the tracks who might as well have «next victim» tattooed on her forehead. Yet Sparks fans clamor for his brand of love story, and, with the added punch of suspense, this one will be another bestseller.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From BooklistIn his newest, the ever-popular Sparks, known for his romantic tales, combines an involving love story with the creepiness of an unpredictable thriller. Julie Barenson survived a negligent mother and is now trying to survive the loss of a loving husband. The man who rescued her by offering her in the small town of Swansboro, North Carolina, died far too young, leaving Julie with a Great Dane puppy she names Singer and a promise to look out for her. Now 29, Julie is starting to date again after four years of mourning and Singer is acting very strangely. He becomes possessive, and especially dislikes her new beau, Richard Franklin. Richard is the perfect gentleman, bringing gifts and always being thoughtful, but something isn’t quite right and after three dates, each more lavish and exciting than the last, Julie reaches a decision about her dream man. In the background is Mike Harris, her late husband’s best friend. Good old Mike has always been there for her, but she has to decide to risk a great friendship for the possibility of more. After Julie makes her decision, she finds true love and happiness, but ominous things start to happen and she soon realizes that she’s being stalked by a deranged sociopath. Sparks’ tricky tale of romantic suspense starts off slowly but builds steadily to an edge-of-your-seat conclusion that is well worth the wait. Patty Engelmann
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