Title: The Return
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: September 29th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
The New York Times and international number one bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a powerful new love story.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a moving new novel about an injured army doctor and the two women whose secrets will change the course of his life.
Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.
Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while preparing for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.
Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Claiming to be 17, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. Discovering that she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues – until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could have ever anticipated.
In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.
‘Most importantly, it’s the story of two different women, though one was really just a girl at the time.’
An author regarded as the master of love and romance stories, Nicholas Sparks is a worldwide sensation. With over thirteen contemporary romance novels to his name, published worldwide and translated into over fifty different languages, Sparks is a novelist who needs no introduction. A highly anticipated read by his fans, The Return is a touching tale of chance encounters, friendship, support, illness, loss, taking stock and of course, love. I was surprised by how much I valued The Return.
Trevor Benson is the commanding voice of The Return, the latest triumph from Nicholas Sparks. A veteran who returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, which ended with a mortar blast, Trevor is learning to heal from his physical and mental injuries. The mysterious loss of his grandfather sparks a lingering return visit to New Bern, where his grandfather resided. While attempting to clear up the details surrounding his grandfather’s passing, Trevor encounters a teenage girl, who seems to have a connection to his late grandfather. But the young girl named Callie isn’t going to give up her secrets so easily and Trevor faces an uphill battle in trying to connect with Callie. During his time in New Bern, Trevor also encounters Natalie, the local deputy sheriff. Trevor soon falls for Natalie and she slowly begins to respond to Trevor’s advances, but something is holding the deputy sheriff back from fully committing to Trevor. Embroiled by the secrets held by his grandfather, young Callie and his new source of affection, Trevor is set on a path of discovery, truth, revelations, understanding, friendship, forgiveness and homecoming.
After a hiatus of over two years, international bestselling author Nicholas Sparks graces our bookstores again with his new contemporary romance novel. This new tale from Sparks has all the hallmarks that make anything written by Nicholas Sparks a joy to read. From the strong romance, complex characters, quaint small town settings, problems to overcome and for this particular issue, a set of mysteries to uncover, The Return should not to be overlooked if you have an appreciation for the writing of Nicholas Sparks. Likewise, if this is your first experience of this popular novelist’s work, The Return is a great place to begin your Nicolas Sparks journey.
I was actually surprised by how much I connected with and appreciated The Return. Although I consider myself a long term fan of Nicholas Sparks, the last two books I have read by the bestselling author didn’t seem to have the same magic for me that I encountered with some of my favourite novels from his collection, such as Dear John and The Notebook. A close friend of mine who is very aware of my reading tastes also remarked on her shock that I enjoyed The Return so much! I have struggled with contemporary romance titles of late, so to openly state that I adored this love story was unexpected. If fact, I think the romance is this novel is not it’s defining aspect. Rather, The Return is preoccupied with other topics of interest. We get a full look into returned soldiers, PTSD, the art of honey production and tending to beehives. We also have a teen runaway to contend with, a mysterious death to solve, confusing letters to decipher, a potential lover who keeps our leading man at arm’s length, a tragic illness, a heartbreaking loss to contend with and career choices to make. Each and every strand of The Return is delivered with high emotion. Sparks really knows how to pull at the heartstrings.
If you feel disappointed that the romance fades somewhat into the background if you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks and his signature love stories, I think you should give The Return a chance. Although the love story aspect is understated and it is more of a slow burn style romance, it still delivers all the feels. In true Nicholas Sparks style, the road to true love and happiness is marred by tragedy, setbacks, reservations, personal baggage, life changing decisions and heart wrenching obstacles. I think Sparks gave the full treatment to his romance element, while also directing the story towards other key issues of interest.
For me, I really loved the mystery component to The Return. Not only do we have one potential mystery to solve regarding the puzzling circumstances surrounding the death of Trevor’s much loved grandfather, we also investigate young Callie’s back story. In addition, Natalie’s involvement in Trevor’s life brings further complexity to this tale. I liked the way in which each separate mystery unraveled, which is down to the penmanship of Nicholas Sparks. I have the feeling that The Return is another novel from Sparks destined for the big screen, it definitely has the makings for a movie adaptation. I know I will be buying my movie ticket as soon as it is released, I have a soft spot for this latest blockbuster from Nicolas Sparks.
The Return by Nicholas Saprks is published by Hachette Australia on September 29th 2020. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of The Return, Nicholas Sparks, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.