When it comes to Nicholas Sparks’ books, I can pick any of them without a second thought, for each book has that nostalgia of romance and the lingering scent of belongingness associated with it. With hits like A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Every Breath, Message in a Bottle and many more stories, he has already won my heart and that’s the reason I call him the God of romance! He knows how to deftly make the readers fall in love with his characters. Luckily for me, I picked The Rescue this festive season and Taylor and Denise have now occupied a special place in my heart.

You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.

The Rescue holds a lot of significance both metaphorically and literally. When the pretty single mother, Denise Holton, is found unconscious in her car after her car crashes in the storm, she is rescued by the handsome and suave Taylor McAden, who is a local contractor (and an occasional fireman). Upon regaining her conscience, she is not taken by surprise because she has Taylor by her side. Instead, she loses control of her tears when she discovers that her 4-year-old son, Kyle, is nowhere to be seen. Touched by her misery, Taylor takes upon himself to find Kyle and that’s when Denise’s revelation throws him off his rockers. Kyle has severe learning disabilities and he wouldn’t call back if his name is called!

She had a childlike innocence that both charmed Taylor and aroused his protective interests, but eventually, she too wanted more than Taylor was willing to commit to.

Set in Edenton, North Carolina, the story pans around the lives of Denise, Taylor, Kyle and Judy. Sparks’ prowess lies in the realistic depiction of characters and here again, he marvels at sketching these characters. For a parent, it is extremely difficult to see their child struggling with something. In Denise’s case, she had already braced the storm when her parents had died and Kyle’s father had left her stranded alone upon knowing that she was bearing his child! Unmarried yet caught up in the duties of motherhood, Denise’s strong demeanour is something that entices Taylor only to make him realize a little later that he has fallen in love. But how can a love story end without any twists?

She hadn’t chosen this life; it was the only life offered to her.

Even though Sparks promises a happy ending in this book too, there are genuine moments of anguish that pierce through your heart. Kyle’s effort to express his joy upon seeing the baseball game and his inability to express his sadness when Taylor doesn’t turn up for his birthday are heart-touching moments. Denise’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that her heart is capable of loving again is so real! Taylor’s battle with the demons of his past that prevent him to love again and often attempt to drown him in the guilt are certain instances that evoke sympathy.

Our present is governed by our past and as easy as it may sound, leaving behind the baggage is one of the most difficult jobs. The death of Taylor’s father when he was young forms the pivot of the story. He is reluctant to fall in love. Whenever his relationship is nearing fruition, he backs out. Guided by his remorseful mind, he finds solace in risking his life to save others who are caught in the fire. Just like how fire and ice are balanced together, Taylor and Denise are opposites too. Hence, they attract. Even though it takes several near-death experiences as a fireman, a death, several reminders to count his blessings by his friends and family, Taylor does get rescued by Denise’s love in the end. In a way, Denise remains true to her word that she never takes favour from anyone. While Taylor rescues her from death, she rescues Taylor from slipping into a lonely abyss.

Crafted beautifully, The Rescue is subtle and mellow. There is no over-drama or cliched romance. There are hardly any sections where the narrative falls flat or becomes verbose. Sparks avoids imagery and that makes the reading quick to interpret. Hence, overall, The Rescue is a good romance!

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