Nicholas Sparks, famous for his warmly imagined love stories, gives his many fans another reason to adore him with this tale of a once-in-a-lifetime quest for true romance.
THE LUCKY ONE opens when two very different men meet. Deputy Keith Clayton is a sleaze who is sneaking through the North Carolina underbrush in order to take pictures of a group of skinny-dipping coeds. When one of the coeds comes face to face with him, Clayton chucks the camera under a bush. He's also startled to meet a stranger toting a backpack and accompanied by a German shepherd dog. Clayton suspects that the man may have seen him taking his snapshots. The young camper is named Logan Thibault, and although a check reveals no wrongdoing on the stranger's part, Clayton does not like him. His hatred is intensified when, after letting Logan continue on, Clayton can't find his camera --- and he discovers slashed tires on his vehicle.
What sequence of events brought Logan to North Carolina? He fought in Iraq as a marine. On his third tour of duty, he discovered a photograph of a beautiful young woman at a county fair. When no one claimed the picture, he kept it. Soon, he began winning at poker. He also managed to survive the deadliest war battles. Could his friend Victor have been correct when he said that the woman in the photo was Logan's lucky charm?
After he leaves the Marines, Logan experiences a profound tragedy that spurs him to find the mysterious woman in the picture. He can deduce a few clues from the photograph, so he takes his German shepherd, Zeus, and begins walking with only a pack on his back. When he finally reaches Hampton, North Carolina, immediately after his encounter with Deputy Clayton, he has a feeling that he is nearing the end of his quest. Sure enough, when he shows the photograph to locals, they inform him who the woman is: Beth Green, a schoolteacher and mother who lives with her grandmother at the family dog kennels. They also warn him that Beth is off-limits; she has an ex-husband who no one wants to mess with.
When Logan finds Beth (or "Elizabeth," as he thinks of her because her photo was signed with the letter E), she is taking care of her grandmother and her son, Ben. Grandmother Nana is a colorful character, a woman who remains strong despite her age and a recent stroke. Ben is a sweet, smart child who is belittled by his father for not being athletic. And --- oh, yes --- Ben's father just happens to be Deputy Keith Clayton.
Nana hires Logan to work at the kennels. Even as he draws closer to the family, he is unsure why he is there. He finds himself unable to tell Beth about the lucky charm photo, especially when he learns that Beth's beloved brother Drake was also a Marine in Iraq --- and died there. How can he talk about being lucky when Drake was so unlucky? Meanwhile, Beth and Logan can't resist their attraction to each other. But Clayton is determined that his ex-wife will not have a romance with Logan Thibault.
Readers are sure to relish this grand, destined love story enhanced with endearing kids, dogs and grandmothers; a cozy country atmosphere; and glimpses of a wise ghost. The ominous foreshadowing of disaster adds suspense, as do the problems complicating the relationship. Romance fans will consider themselves more than fortunate to have discovered THE LUCKY ONE.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on August 11, 2009
The Lucky One