Taylor McAden is a volunteer fireman who is always the first to plunge into danger. But there is one risk he can't bring himself to take: falling in love. Then he meets Denise Holden, a single mother who has moved to the small town of Edenton, North Carolina, to build a new life. A near fatal car crash will bring these two together, but before that can happen, Taylor must look into his past and see if it's not too late to take a chance on the future.
Denise Holden's life is a fragile mix of luck and hard work. A single mom of a speech-delayed son, Denise makes ends meet by moving to the small town of Edenton, North Carolina, and working the late shift as a waitress. When Denise crashes her car and her son Kyle flees the accident and disappears into the storm, her only stroke of luck is the quick arrival of Taylor McAden, a volunteer fireman. Taylor's got a knack for fixing people, and he can't help wanting to be involved with Denise beyond the initial rescue of Kyle.
As Taylor helps Denise recover from the accident and get to know the town, they discover a sweet bond and a magical chemistry that pulls them closer and closer. Though Taylor fits perfectly into Denise's family, he's unable to open his heart to being loved by her. As Taylor struggles to understand his conflicting desires, Denise questions the wisdom of gambling with Kyle's and her own emotions.
Author Nicholas Sparks has found a loyal audience for his stories about the internal battles that accompany the arrival of love. His heroes may be truck-driving manly men and his heroines emotional swamis, but it's easy to overlook the traditional roles when the complexities of human relationships are so beautifully described. Sparks has found his forte, and this novel is sure to be as popular as his earlier works. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien