I cannot even begin describing this book. Many words come to mind; astounding, marvelous, inspiring, anything along those lines. The main characters are Julie, Mike, Richard, and Julie's Great Dane, named Singer. They are all so realistic and vivid, I feel as if I could pass anyone of them on the street. (However, a Great Dane would be conspicuous in a small town.) Julie's husband, Jim, passes away when she is only twenty-five. Four years later, she is ready to start dating again. When a stranger, Richard Franklin, comes into town, they start dating. After a couple weeks, Julie decides that Richard doesn't "float her boat." She stops dating Richard because she finally begins to understand her feelings toward Mike, her husband's former best friend. When Julie tells Richard she doesn't want to see him anymore . . . I don't want to give it away- read the book! This is the first book by Nicholas Sparks thatI have read. I am really pleased the his romance novels are . . . well . . . romantic. Simply, utterly romantic. Most romance novels I've encountered weren't the least bit romantic. There is no downside to the book. Unless, of course, you count the chilling fear it gives you as a downside. I would definitely rate this book a 4.