“‘I love you, Maria,’ he finally murmured. He watched as her surprise gave way to comprehension. With his hand still in her hair, she wrapped it in hers. ‘Oh, Colin,’ she whispered, ‘I love you, too.’”
Sound familiar? Maybe the mushy romance reminds you of Noah and Allie’s tear-jerking romance from The Notebook or brings you back to John and Savannah’s heart-wrenching love in Dear John. To no avail, Nicholas Sparks’ new book, See Me, left me up past my normal ten o’clock bedtime every night. I was up reading into the early hours, tears streaming all the while.
The novel is based around Maria Sanchez and Colin Hancock, two seemingly opposite people who manage to find a way into each other’s worlds. Maria is a beautiful, Latina girl with a law degree and an overbearing job. She seems to have her life together but always feels like she is going through the motions of a monotonous life. No wonder, considering she spends her lunch breaks and weekends working tirelessly for a law firm. To spice up Maria’s character, Sparks mentions early on that she was involved in a messy court case years before that left her defendant dead and Maria with no option but to flee back to her hometown. The mystery surrounding Maria is what makes her character intriguing.
Colin is a reserved, mixed martial arts fighter and fitness fanatic — not to mention ridiculously handsome. As an adolescent, he was in and out of jail due to anger outbreaks and now lives very carefully, avoiding clubs and bars, so as not to not fall back into his old habits. Colin also has taken on a very honest persona about his past since learning to handle his anger, never hesitating to share his entire criminal record with anyone who might inquire. Seems like an odd detail for Sparks to include, yet proves to be vital in getting Colin’s “no BS” attitude across.
Each chapter alternates between each characters’ perspective as they meet on a stormy night and travel through their “unexpected” love affair.
Maria and Colin’s love story is endangered when Maria realizes she is being stalked, though it is apparent that the stalker is Maria’s dead defendant’s brother returning for revenge. Suspense rises and Colin’s anger grows as Maria receives threatening notes and finds her tires slashed. Finally, Colin is pushed too far and is almost jailed again for aggression when Maria is sent a free drink from her stalker on a date night. Colin’s outburst pushes Maria away in fear of who he used to be.
The relationship that I had become so emotionally invested in begins to crumble, though their reprieve only lasted two weeks.
Soon the couple is back together and working with a detective to locate and determine Maria’s stalker. The remainder of the novel follows Colin and Maria as they navigate love and life through constant turmoil.
The contrast of the two main characters once again illustrates Sparks’ ability to flawlessly fuse two opposing personalities together. I fell in love with Colin and Maria before they even fell for each other.
See Me certainly doesn’t disappoint romance-hungry readers, though the plotline is often predictable. Sparks confesses on his website, “I have to be honest with you: it is always a challenge for me to conceive a unique, compelling and original storyline. After eighteen novels, it’s even more difficult. When I wrote See Me, my singular goal was to surprise and delight you as a reader.”
Even though his stories resemble one another, See Me managed to bring to me to tears and completely captivate me anyways. So congratulations, Mr. Sparks. I’m certainly surprised and delighted by your ceaseless talent.