Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks - A Novel that Finds a New Hope. A book review of the popular novel. All review text © Rissi JC

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Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Station
Publication Date: 2010
FIND the BOOK ELSEWHERE: Amazon | Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks | Book Review

STORY: Frightened for her life but without the means to be a self-sufficient woman prompts Katie to finally run from everything she knows after an entire year of careful preparation. Ending up in a small Southern town that is more a tourist hangout than a place to put down roots, Katie begins a new job while catching the eye of the local shop keeper, Alex. Widowed and raising two kids, with a past in law enforcement, Alex has a keen sense, and he knows Katie is hiding from a past – and the threat is a danger that still frightens her. Paralyzed by the life she left behind, Katie’s resistance to Alex changes when she slowly relies on his protective embrace; and loses her heart to his two children. This new haven is threatened when her past returns…

REVIEW: If Nicholas Sparks is in the dictionary, his name would be synonymous with the words, romance (that one should be obvious); beach (his settings always involve one); and tragedy (cruelly he has a penchant for breaking the reader’s heart as well as his protagonists). In the pattern that is his stories, so much of the plot involve secrets and a leading couple who go through multitudes of issues. Like free-falling emotions that engage not only them but the reader. Fortunately, I’ve gone two-for-two, both have a happy end (but to be fair, I should confess that I cheat with the Sparks spoilers).

Safe Haven is only the second novel I’ve read and were it not for such a lackluster ending, I’d have quite adored this book. It’s different with its hints of mystery and a frightened heroine who sees potential danger in every shadow, something that not only grips the reader but heightens in us a sense of awareness.

FILM REVIEW | Safe Haven – A Coastal Romance about Trust
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As always, Sparks writes compelling characters. Katie, Alex and his two small children captivate me. I didn’t want to quit reading of their adventures and felt satisfied with so many of the story elements. This included an above-board romance (though not for the “right” reasons) in addition to a prose that entices, enchants and engages. Each chapter further develop the characters though the prose has flaws; or perhaps it’s the way the story is told that is most at fault. Multiple chapters recount one event, making certain moments far too long then there is the POV changes to three midway through.

There’s also Katie’s wrenching narrations of her past life. During these portions and approximately 3/4 of the way through, Katie’s personality shifts. As she remembers the past, it wrecks havoc with the reader’s feelings to experience first-hand the things she goes through in order to make life “easier.” Because of this, the book is less romance and is instead more of a thriller, which is said to be a break from normal for Sparks. Indeed the book does read differently.

Common as this story may be, it’s a hard look at the touchy topic of abuse while keeping pace with some lighter, happier moments that balances everything really nice. The ending does sneak up on us and that lessens the sense of that “warm, fuzzy feeling” a happy-ending girl like me appreciates. By the end of the book, I was impressed. Perhaps the plot isn’t as unique as it might be and the author limits the characters (sometimes), but for a Nicholas Sparks novel, it’s a keeper.

CONTENT: Profanity is rare with few uses of commonplace words like sh*t, da*m, etc. Details discuss at least two sex scenes; both acts to pacify a man with a short fuse. Elsewhere there are some mild innuendos; a woman teases a man with a promise of a night of intimacy. Tense moments include a fire and implications as well as scenes involving physical abuse.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I have never read any of Nicolas' books. Do I want to? Sure! Yet, I never seem to remember to place a hold at the library or figure out which I want to read… :-)

    1. That is a dilemma, Rosie – I judge by the ending being happy or bittersweet. ;)

      Hey, if you'd want to read this book sometime before the DVD release but don't want to have to return it in a set time frame, I'd be happy to lend you my copy. It's one I will re-read but not in the near future. :)

    2. That's a good point… :)

      Aw, thanks!! That is so sweet! Could I get a rain check on that offer in two months when I'm not swamped with review books? :-)

    3. Given his propensity to break reader's and character's hearts, it seems the best bet. :)

      Sure! Totally understand that feeling – I'm about to have that! LOL! Anytime, just say so. :)

  2. Thanks for the review. It covered pretty much everything I was curious about (I like when there's a plot synopsis at the end– but in small print as to avoid spoilers for those who don't want them).

  3. Knowing the movie was coming out, I've been curious about this one. I looked at it in Target one day, but I think I'd better check the library first. Nice review! :)

    1. Sometimes that is the better bet, Kara. Given my spoiler-crazy personality, I sort of knew I'd like it considering I'd read one of his books and it ended okay. Having said that, in one instance, the book is morally better than the movie although it still has PG13 content.

      Hope you enjoy – let's chat about it if/when you read it!

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