Ex-Marine Logan Thibault has walked for days to get to where he's going with nobody for company but his faithful dog Zeus. He carries very few possessions but is never far away from the photo that he believes kept him safe through war. He is on a mission to find the woman in the photo and thinks he knows where she is...
When Logan meets Beth, the woman in the photo, he decides not to tell her the truth behind his arrival but stays to work at the kennels she runs. Beth lives with her young son Ben and Nana, who has raised her since her parents' death at a young age. Ben is adorable and just the right amount of geeky. He plays chess rather than sports - which annoys dad Clayton immensely. But Beth does not realise the full extent of her ex-husband's power over her little family and just how much influence he has had over her life since their divorce. And as her relationship with Logan begins to blossom, Clayton does not take too kindly to the new man in Ben's life. As the book develops, there is a horrid feeling of imminent doom on every page. Even when Beth and Logan are happy, you are just waiting for it to all go horribly wrong. This tension makes the book compelling reading as it's difficult to see where it will all end.
Everybody seems to be dealing with their inner demons in The Lucky One. Logan is traumatised by thoughts and visions of his friends who have died at war, Beth is struggling being a lonely single parent, even Nana is recovering from a stroke. Clayton, though, is by far the most fascinating character of all. He is an incredibly dark character but manages to somehow avoid being a stereotypical villain. He loves his son but he wishes he were more "masculine", he knows that being married to Beth wasn't right for either of them, but he can't stop lusting after her. His family are all officials in the town - his father is the sheriff, his grandfather a judge. He has come to believe that he can get away with anything he likes, because he is a Clayton, but always gives the impression of a respected law official. This outwardly good and caring persona makes him all the more menacing.
What Sparks manages to do in his books is write about love in a way that is intoxicating, utterly believable and completely beautiful - yet not remotely cheesy. There are no awful clichés, just honest looks at people in love and all the baggage that comes along with it. His characters are always flawed, always damaged but in each other find happiness. They do so not because they make each other complete but because they accept and love each other for exactly the person they are.
A beautiful book with likeable and dark characters, hidden secrets and a brilliantly dramatic climax.