I've enjoyed every Nicholas Sparks book that I have read, but I've never attempted to keep up with his writing, so over the years, his books have dropped off my radar.. He was popular enough that I did purchase several of his novels for the high school fiction collection, especially those with movie tie-ins. When I saw reviews of SEE ME, his latest title, I decided to request a copy through interlibrary loan and give his writing a chance again. Wow! I was hooked from the prologue. Clearly this was not going to be a simple romance. Somebody with revenge on his mind appeared to be watching a young college student and he also seemed to know too much about another woman named Maria. I could already feel the urge to find the identity of this eavesdropper who clearly had evil intentions. As the book begins, we are quickly thrown into the story of another man-Colin Hancock, an older college student, who admits he's been given a second chance, or rather, a last chance. Colin has a dark past, filled with bar brawls and explosive temper outbursts, In a last ditch attempt to stay out of prison, Colin sought anger management treatment and has begun the steps to living a more normal life, if you don't count his pastime as a mixed martial art fighter. But one tiny misstep and he will see metal bars instead of Carolina shoreline for a very, very long time.
When Colin, face battered and bloody from his most recent MMA fight, passes a woman trying to fix a flat tire by the side of a dark road, he makes the decision to turn around and help, knowing fully that his own appearance will frighten her more than her disabled car. And this is exactly the reaction, Maria Sanchez has, but she controls her fear and allows Colin to fix her tire. When the two meet again, Maria is taken by Colin's deadpan honesty about his life including the violence. With the most tentative and apprehensive steps, the two begin au unlikely relationship. Why would a former prosecutor, someone who often dealt with domestic abuse cases, ever consider dating someone with a history of violence? Even Maria, herself, can't say why. Then shortly after they begin dating, Maria begins getting threatening notes and quickly it appears that someone is stalking her. Who can it be? Maria's only answer is that it is someone linked to a case she worked in another state when she was an assistant DA, but authorities think that is unlikely. As the threats escalate, it appears that the stalker will not be the only one Maria needs to worry about, as anger and determination to keep Maria safe begin to build in Colin.
SEE ME is contemporary romance, something that Spark does so well, but it is also a suspenseful thriller which I think is new territory for him. Like I said, I have not read any of his books for several years, so if other titles tread into this new territory, let me know. I really liked the tension and suspense in this book and the anti-hero element to Colin's character (although it was maybe a bit unbelievable) and would pick up any other titles with similar plots. This book is over 475 pages long, making it much longer than many of his books. Although I liked its originality, I do see an easy transition from this book to a suspense movie, which makes me wonder if Sparks is writing novels or writing another book-movie-tie-in. Either way, I can recommend SEE ME, and I look forward to reading more by Sparks in the future.