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The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

(Little, Brown, $37.99)The perennial tale of the good-girl-meets-bad-boy-from-across-the-tracks gets yet another airing in Nicholas Sparks’ new melodrama, The Best of oe.

Dawson Cole is a tough oil-rig worker with a soft underbelly. He lives a life of isolation, both at work, in the middle of the ocean, and at home, in his “rustic” trailer in the Louisiana countryside. He’s basically the type of guy many women would love to rescue and take home for a “feelings” talk.

Dawson wasn’t always a lone ranger though. As a teenager, he was deeply entangled in a passionate and forbidden love affair with Amanda Collier, who’s now part of a well-to-do and prominent family in the small town they grew up in.

Years after their romance was snuffed out by the complications caused by coming from different worlds, Dawson and Amanda are brought back together by the death of their shared mentor in love and life, Tuck Hostetler. Will the pair rekindle the flame that once burned so bright, or has the way in which they broke up and the years they’ve spent apart created an irreparable gulf between them?

With this being his 17th novel, it’s clear Nicholas has his formula and his audience figured out. Anyone who’s read his books or watched their film adaptations, including The Notebook, oessage in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember, knows to expect a bog-standard love affair that relentlessly claws at your heartstrings and assaults your tear ducts.

While his stories may not necessarily ring true, writers like Nicholas are unapologetically creating a fantasy world that, judging by sales, readers are keen to live in.

While The Best of oe certainly isn’t breaking any new ground, it’s sure to tickle the fancy and stoke the fantasies of his millions-strong fanbase.

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