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Surprisingly, although I have seen and enjoyed the movie "Message in a Bottle", I haven't read any of Nicholas Sparks' books. I was lured to this book by how fast it got to the top of the Kindle best-sellers list. From the first pages it was clear that Sparks is a quality writer who builds wonderful characters and weaves meaningful relationships.
When Katie Feldman arrives in the small North Carolina town of Southport she is seen as a mysterious person. She rents a small cottage in a lonely spot, doesn't mix with others or tell anyone about her background. Her life revolves around working at a local restaurant, improving her cottage and buying her essential needs from the local store owned by Alex, a single parent of 2 young children who has recently lost his wife to brain cancer. She gradually gets attracted to Alex and builds a loving and comfortable relationship with his children. Despite this she doesn't have the emotional stability for a long term commitment.
The community and Alex are not aware that Katie is is on-the-run from a very bad mentally and physically abusive marriage. Even with a new identity she knows that Kevin, her alcoholic abusive husband, is a skilled police investigator who will search for and find her wherever she goes.
Why did I give it 4 stars - because I skip-read the description of Kevin's life after Katie left because it was too long and IMHO a bit unrealistic. Despite that I liked the book and strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an easy, well written and satisfying romantic thriller.