Nicholas Sparks is a brand as surely as Kellogg, Chevrolet, or Apple. As surely as you know those cornflakes/car/computer will be of a certain quality, the reader knows that Sparks will deliver a competent, predictable story. Geared toward a female audience (That's not a sexist statement; just go to one of his readings and note the percentage of women readers.), the story will feature certain elements. A "lost" boy/man and girl/woman will meet by chance in a beautiful setting on the North Carolina coast. Love will blossom and eventually be requited after a number of diversions along the path to true love.
Those elements remain in Safe Haven; however, there is a darker, more menacing element present, one that goes beyond the normal vicissitudes of life. This element makes for a pretty good read, one that is less saccharine, more peppery than Sparks' usual fare. We know that Kevin is the bad guy as soon as we meet him, and his descent into madness is as predictable as the tides.
Needing food, Katie shops at the local grocery store owned and operated by Alex Wheatley. He is raising two young children after his wife's untimely death. A retired Army major who worked in criminal investigations, he has uncommon insight into Katie. Of course, events conspire to bring them together and lead them toward love. But, the course of true love never did run smooth in a Sparks novel, and obstacles must be overcome. Helping in that process is the character of Jo, a grief counselor who moves in next to Katie. But, is Jo, who appears to know a great deal about Alex and his family, who she seems to be?