October 23, 2000 12:00 PM

by Nicholas Sparks

Former pharmaceuticals salesman Nicholas Sparks has made a fortune writing three-hankie tales of love and loss like The Notebook and Message in a Bottle. No surprise then that his latest effort sails that familiar course.

This time out, the tortured souls are single mom Denise Holton, who has shut herself off from love to devote herself to her disabled 4-year-old son, Kyle, and volunteer firefighter Taylor McAden, who routinely puts his life on the line—but dares not risk his heart. Brought together by a car crash in the middle of a dangerous rainstorm, each must battle personal demons—and survive Sparks’s trademark climactic tragedy—for a chance at romance.

The author’s penchant for exposition through long monologues of his characters’ unspoken thoughts gets a bit annoying, as do his phonetic renderings of Kyle’s impaired speech (“Hello, Taylor” comes out Hewwo, Tayer). But readers who love over-the-top melodrama—and don’t mind shedding a few tears along the way—won’t be disappointed. (Warner, $22.95)

Bottom Line: Save it for a rainy Sunday

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