The Guardian

The Guardian

by Nicholas Sparks


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The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Nights in Rodanthe explores a darker realm of the heart in an explosive and emotional tale of love and obsession. At 29, Julie Barenson is too young to give up on love. Four years after her husband's tragic death, she is finally ready to risk giving her heart to someone again. But to whom? Should it be Richard Franklin, who is handsome and sophisticated and treats her like a queen, or Mike Harris, who is Julie's best friend in the world, though not as debonair? Now, with a decision that should bring her more happiness than she's had in years, Julie's life is about to become a living nightmare, as one man's jealousy spins into a deadly obsession.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446696111
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2005
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 342,185
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.12(h) x 1.05(d)
Lexile: 760L (what's this?)

About the Author

With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world's most beloved storytellers. His novels include fourteen #1 New York Times bestsellers, and all of his books, including Three Weeks with My Brother, the memoir he wrote with his brother, Micah, have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than fifty languages. Eleven of Nicholas Sparks's novels--The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle--have been adapted into major motion pictures.


New Bern, North Carolina

Date of Birth:

December 31, 1965

Place of Birth:

Omaha, Nebraska


B.A. in finance, University of Notre Dame, 1988

Read an Excerpt

The Guardian

By Nicholas Sparks

Warner Books

Copyright © 2003 Nicholas Sparks Enterprises, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446527793

Chapter One

Four Years Later

In the years since Jim had died, Julie Barenson had somehow found a way to start living again. It hadn't happened right away. The first couple of years after his death had been difficult and lonely, but time had eventually worked its magic on Julie, changing her loss into something softer. Though she loved Jim and knew that part of her would always love Jim, the pain wasn't as sharp as it had once been. She could remember her tears and the total vacuum her life had become in the aftermath of his death, but the searing ache of those days was behind her. Now when she thought of Jim, she remembered him with a smile, thankful that he'd been part of her life. She was thankful for Singer, too. Jim had done the right thing by getting her the dog. In a way, Singer had made it possible for her to go on.

But at this moment, while lying in bed on a cool spring morning in Swansboro, North Carolina, Julie wasn't thinking about what a wonderful support Singer had been during the past four years. Instead, she was mentally cursing his very existence while gasping for breath, thinking, I can't believe that this is the way I'm going to die. Squashed in bed by my very own dog.

With Singer splayed across her, pinning her to the mattress, she imagined her lips turning blue from oxygen deprivation. "Get up, you lazy dog," she wheezed. "You're killing me here." Snoring soundly, Singer didn't hear her, and Julie began squirming, trying to bounce him from his slumber. Suffocating beneath the weight, she felt as if she'd been wrapped in a blanket and tossed in a lake, Mafia style.

"I'm serious," she forced out, "I can't breathe." Singer finally lifted his massive head and blinked at her groggily. What's all the racket about? he seemed to be asking. Can't you see I'm trying to rest here? "Get off!" Julie rasped out.

Singer yawned, pushing his cold nose against her cheek. "Yeah, yeah, good morning," she gasped. "Now scoot." With that, Singer snorted and found his legs, further squashing various parts of her as he got up. And up. And up. And up. A moment later, towering over her with just a smudge of drool on his lips, he looked like something from a low-budget horror movie. Good Lord, she thought, he is huge. You'd think that I'd be used to it by now. She took a deep breath and looked up at him, frowning. "Did I say you could get into bed with me?" she asked. Singer usually slept in the corner of her room at night. The past two nights, however, he'd crawled in with her. Or, more accurately, on top of her. Crazy dog.

Singer lowered his head and licked her face. "No, you're not forgiven," she said, pushing him away. "Don't even bother trying to get out of this. You could have killed me. You're almost twice as heavy as I am, you know. Now get off the bed." Singer whined like a pouting child before hopping down to the floor. Julie sat up, ribs aching, and looked at the clock, thinking, Already?

She and Singer stretched at the same time before she pushed aside the covers.

"C'mon," she said, "I'll let you out before I get in the shower. But don't go sniffing around the neighbors' garbage cans again. They left a nasty message on the machine." Singer looked at her. "I know, I know," she said, "it's only garbage. But some people are funny that way."

Singer left the bedroom, heading toward the front door. Julie rolled her shoulders as she followed him, her eyes closed for just a moment. Big mistake. On the way out of the bedroom, she slammed her toe against the dresser. The pain shot from her toe up through her lower leg. After the initial scream, she began to curse, combining profanity in all sorts of marvelous permutations. Hopping on one foot in her pink pajamas, she was sure she looked like some sort of deranged Energizer Bunny. Singer merely gave her a look that seemed to imply, What's the holdup? You got me up, remember, so let's get going here. I've got things to do outside.

She groaned. "Can't you see I'm wounded here?" Singer yawned again, and Julie rubbed her toe before limping after him.

"Thanks for coming to my rescue. You're worthless in an emergency." A moment later, after Singer stepped on Julie's sore toe on his way out the door-Julie knew he'd done it on purpose-he was outside. Instead of heading toward the garbage cans, Singer wandered over to the vacant wooded lots that bordered one side of her house. She watched as he swung his massive head from side to side, as if making sure that no one had planted any new trees or bushes during the preceding day. All dogs liked to mark their territory, but Singer seemed to believe that somehow, if he found enough places to relieve himself, he'd be anointed King Dog in all the World. At least it got him out of her hair for a while.

Thank heaven for small favors, Julie thought. Singer had been driving her crazy for the last couple of days. He'd followed her everywhere, refusing to let her out of his sight for even a few minutes, except when she put him outside. She hadn't even been able to put the dishes away without bumping into him a dozen times. He was even worse at night. Last night, he'd had a growling fit for an hour, which he'd thoughtfully interspersed with an occasional bark, and the whole thing had left her fantasizing about buying either a soundproof kennel or an elephant gun.

Not that Singer's behavior had ever been ... well, ordinary. Except for the peeing thing, the dog had always acted as if he thought he were human. He refused to eat out of a dog bowl, he'd never needed a leash, and when Julie watched television, he would crawl up on the couch and stare at the screen. And when she talked to him-whenever anyone talked to him, for that matter-Singer would stare intently, his head tilted to the side, as if he were following the conversation. And half the time, it did seem as if he understood what she was telling him. No matter what she told him to do, no matter how ridiculous the command, Singer would carry it out.

Could you go get my purse from the bedroom? Singer would come trotting out with it a moment later. Will you turn off the bedroom light? He'd balance on two legs and flick it with his nose. Put this can of soup in the pantry, okay? He'd carry it in his mouth and set it on the shelf. Sure, other dogs were well trained, but not like this. Besides, Singer hadn't needed training. Not real training, anyway. All she'd had to do was show him something once and that was it. To others it seemed downright eerie, but since it made Julie feel like a modern-day Dr. Dolittle, she kind of liked it.

Even if it did mean she talked to her dog in complete sentences, had arguments with him, and asked for his advice now and then. But hey, she told herself, that wasn't so odd, was it? They'd been together since Jim had died, just the two of them, and for the most part, Singer was pretty good company.

Singer, though, had been acting strangely ever since she started dating again, and he hadn't liked any of the guys who'd shown up at the door in the last couple of months. Julie had expected that part. Since he'd been a puppy, Singer tended to growl at men when he first met them. She used to think that Singer had a sixth sense that enabled him to tell the good guys from the ones she should avoid, but lately she'd changed her mind. Now, she couldn't help but think that he was just a big, furry version of a jealous boyfriend. It was getting to be a problem, she decided. They were going to have to have a serious talk. Singer didn't want her to be alone, did he? No, of course not. It might take him a little while to get used to having someone else around, but he'd understand eventually. Hell, in time, he'd probably even be happy for her. But how, she wondered, was the best way to explain all this to him?

She halted for a moment, considering the question, before realizing the implications of what she was thinking.

Explain all this to him? Good Lord, she thought, I'm going insane. Julie limped to the bathroom to start getting ready for work, slipping off her pajamas as she went. Standing over the sink, she grimaced at her reflection. Look at me, she thought, I'm twenty-nine and falling apart at the seams here. Her ribs hurt when she breathed, her big toe throbbed, and the mirror, she realized, wasn't helping things. During the day, her brown hair was long and straight, but after a night in bed, it looked as if it had been attacked by combteasing pillow gnomes. It was frazzled and puffed out, "under siege," as Jim so kindly used to put it. Mascara was smeared down her cheek.

The tip of her nose was red, and her green eyes were swollen from the springtime pollen. But a shower would help with those things, wouldn't it?

Well, maybe not with the allergies. She opened the medicine cabinet and took a Claritin before glancing up again, as if hoping for a sudden improvement. Ugh.

Maybe, she thought, she wouldn't have to work so hard at discouraging Bob's interest after all. She'd been cutting Bob's hair, or rather what was left of it, for a year now. Two months ago, Bob had finally worked up the nerve to ask her out. He wasn't exactly the best-looking guy in the world-balding, with a round face, eyes set too close together, and the beginnings of a paunch-but he was single and successful, and Julie hadn't been on a date since Jim had died. She figured it would be a good way to get her feet wet in the world of dating again. Wrong. There was a reason Bob was single. Bob wasn't only a triple bogey in the looks department, he'd been so boring on their date that even people at nearby tables in the restaurant had glanced her way in pity. His preferred topic of conversation on their date had been accounting. He'd showed no interest in anything else: not her, not the menu, not the weather, not sports, not the little black dress she was wearing. Only accounting. For three hours, she'd listened to Bob drone on and on about itemized deductions and capital gains distributions, depreciation and 401(k) rollovers. By the end of the dinner, when he'd leaned over the table and confided that he "knew important people at the IRS," Julie's eyes were so glazed that they could have flavored a dozen doughnuts.

It went without saying, of course, that Bob had had a wonderful time. He'd been calling three times a week since then, asking "if they could get together for a second consultation, hee hee hee." He was persistent, that was for sure. Annoying as hell, but persistent. Then there was Ross, the second guy she dated. Ross the doctor. Ross the good-looking guy. Ross the pervert. One date with him was enough, thank you very much.

And can't forget good old Adam. He worked for the county, he said. He enjoyed his work, he said. Just a regular guy, he said. Adam, she found out, worked in the sewers.

He didn't smell, he didn't have unknown substances growing under his fingernails, his hair didn't carry a greasy shine, but she knew that as long as she lived, she'd never get used to the idea that one day, he might show up at the front door looking that way. Had an accident at the plant, dear. Sorry to come home like this. The very thought gave her the shivers. Nor could she imagine handling his clothes to put them in the laundry after something like that. The relationship was doomed from the start.

Just when she was beginning to wonder whether normal people like Jim even existed anymore, just when she was beginning to wonder what it was about her that seemed to attract oddballs like a neon sign flashing "I'm Available-Normalcy Not Required," Richard had come strolling into the picture.

And miracle of miracles, even after a first date last Saturday, he still seemed ... normal. A consultant with J. D. Blanchard Engineering out of Cleveland-the firm repairing the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway-he had made her acquaintance when he came into the salon for a haircut. On their date, he'd opened doors for her, smiled at the right moments in the conversation, given the waiter her order for dinner, and not so much as tried to kiss her when he'd dropped her off. Best of all, he was good-looking in an artistic sort of way, with sculpted cheekbones, emerald eyes, black hair, and a mustache.

After he'd dropped her off, she'd felt like screaming, Hallelujah! I have seen the light!

Singer hadn't seemed quite as impressed. After she'd said good night to Richard, Singer had put on one of his "I'm the boss around here" acts. He'd growled until Julie had opened the front door. "Oh, stop it," she'd said. "Don't be so hard on him." Singer did as he was told, but he'd retreated to the bedroom, where he'd pouted the rest of the night.

If my dog was any more bizarre, she thought, we could team up and work for a carnival, right next to the guy who eats light bulbs. But then, my life hasn't exactly been normal, either.

Julie turned on the faucet and stepped into the shower, trying to stem the tide of memories. What was the use of replaying hard times? Her mother, she often mused, had been fatally attracted to two things: booze and toxic men. Either one without the other would have been bad, but the combination had been intolerable for Julie. Her mom went through boyfriends the way kids go through paper towels, and some of them made Julie feel less than comfortable once she hit adolescence. The last one had actually tried to have his way with her, and when Julie had told her mother, her mother, in a drunken, teary rage, had blamed her for coming on to him. It wasn't long before Julie found herself without a home.

Living on the street had been terrifying even for the six months or so before Jim came along. Most everyone she met used drugs and panhandled or stole ... or worse. Scared of becoming like the haunted runaways she saw every night at the shelters and in the doorways, she searched frantically for odd jobs that would keep her fed and out of sight. She worked every menial job she saw offered and kept her head down. When she first met Jim at a diner in Daytona, she was nursing a cup of coffee with the last of her pocket change. Jim bought her breakfast and on the way out the door said he'd do the same thing the following day if she returned. Hungry, she did, and when she challenged him about his motives (she assumed she knew his reasons and could remember gearing up for quite the embarrassing public tirade about cradle robbers and jail time), Jim denied any improper interest in her. And at the end of the week, when he was getting ready to head for home, he made her a proposal: If she moved to Swansboro, North Carolina, he would help her get a full-time job and a place to stay.

She remembered staring at him as though he had bugs crawling out of his ears.


Excerpted from The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks Copyright © 2003 by Nicholas Sparks Enterprises, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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The Guardian 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1066 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book within 24 hours. It was a little more scary than I had predicted and it kept me up all night wanting to find out what was going to happen. Dogs are truly your best friend!!
cookie4 More than 1 year ago
Want to read a heart filling book with twists and turns that you would never have guessed would happen in a small town? The Guardian has it all: romance, murder, kidnapping, and true love.   Julie Barenson is your average small town woman living and working in a salon in Swansboro, North Carolina with her Great Dane Singer left to her by her late husband Jim with the promise that he would always be watching over her. Julie feels that after 4 years she is ready to start dating again but is stuck between to great guys: Mike Harris the down to earth guy who she has known since she came to the small town and Richard Franklin the handsome engineer who treats her like royalty. She didn’t find out until after a few dates that he wasn’t the man she first thought he was and decides to end it and give Mike a shot. That is when Richard starts losing his mind and thing change for Julie. When she decides to go out with Richard that really starts the book off because you want to know if she made the right choice by choosing him and you find out she didn’t. The characters in this story are pretty believable because you always encounter different types of people. For example Mike is the nice guy whom you can depend on and genuinely cares for other people and for their well being. Sometimes you will encounter people like Richard who is fake nice just to get what he wants and then turns out not the nicest person. Julie has as very hard decision to make but she makes the right one but it makes some people angry and puts her life and her dogs’ life in danger. The major theme of this book is making the right decision because that decision can change your whole life. When you read this book you really understand what I mean by making the right decisions and how they can affect your life.  Until I picked this book up I never liked reading. Every time I would have to read a book for school I would hate it and wait until the last minute to read it. Reading still is not my favorite thing to do but I am starting to warm up to it slowly thanks to Nicholas Sparks. I give this book a thumbs up. Although it never happened to me it is possible that it could happen. This book will give you an inside look on what can happen to anyone if you’re not careful with whom you trust. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Nicholas Sparks books! I usually read through a whole book in less than a week and that is not like me. I am not a big fan of reading but I find myself on the edge of my seat waiting for his next novel to come out. This is definitely a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I've read all of Spark's books, but this one is definitely a favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read many of sparks books and i would have to say this was my favorite right above the notebook. Im suprised this one hasnt been made into a movie yet. Great read with some romance and some suspense all mixed together.
Lizzie_Reads More than 1 year ago
Nicholas Sparks's creative minds brings to life a beautful tale that involves everything you can think of (drama, action and romance). I enjoyed all of the dynamics of the novel and hope to see this in film someday. Way to go!
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers Favorite "The Guardian" by Nicholas Sparks is one of his best tales. Before Julie Barenson’s husband passed away, he gave her a Great Dane puppy named Singer and a promise to always watch over her. After four years Julie was ready to move on with her life. Two men vie for her attention. Richard, an engineer, was attentive but after a few dates Julie knew she just didn’t feel a romantic connection to him. When he came around Singer would become agitated. Then there was Mike, her deceased husband’s best friend. Singer was always glad to see him. Once he and Julie began to date they both knew the romantic connection was there. However, Richard wasn’t willing to give up that easily. He was determined Julie would love him even if he had to force her. Would Singer, Mike and Julie survive the wrath of Richard? This is one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks stories. Of course I have enjoyed almost all of his books. For me Singer stole the show in this book. I loved the idea of Singer being a guardian angel. Mike reminded me of the good ole’ boy, from next door; he was a little bit red neck. But he was kind, gentle and loving. I liked the way he was gentle and careful with Julie’s feelings most of the time; once or twice he reacted rather than acted. Richard was obviously a fruitcake. "The Guardian" is well-written and easy to read and it held my interest. The format of my copy was audio. The reader was Isabel Keating whose voice lent much to the overall effect of the tale. She was careful to bring emotion into her voice at just the right time. Romance, suspense, action and thriller: what more could a reader ask for?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. So different from other Sparks books. Couldn't put it down.
Gracie-7 More than 1 year ago
Awesome story. Made me want to go out and get a Great Dane. Seriously, I will recommend this book to everyone that likes Nicholas Sparks. Excellent story line.
fairbank_30 More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. It is mystery and romance combined. Really kept me entertained the entire time. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Nicholas Sparks book and I have to say that this was one of the best books I've ever read! It kept you on the edge of your seat. I didn't want to put the book down! I'm onto the next book by this author! Read this book!! You'll love it!
Stefanie Constantinescu More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most amazing books I've EVER read!!! Do youself a favor and buy this book, you won't regret it!!! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book, often having to shut it to still the wild, panicked beating of my heart. At first, the book was kind of slow, showing the main characters just as average-joe people in a one-horse town. In a town with hardly a thousand people, one person is a seasoned stalker-killer. The plot thickens. I read this book and thought 'Wow!' A year later, the book came back to haunt me when a friend of mine started being stalked. The Guardian is an amazingly life-like situation with a miraculous ending that is worth reading and cherishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read other Spark's books, but this one was the best so far. Nobody can resist a good dog story and the is one of the best I have read.
Bshorty More than 1 year ago
Nicholas Sparks does it again! Had me crying in the prologue! Very suspenseful couldn't put it down! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bitter-sweet love story with a sad/happy ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mystery and romance are my favorite types of books to read, and The Guardian offered both. The moment I started reading the book I was drawn into it! It was a perfect blend with the secret past of Richard, how strong Julie was, the innocence of Mike, the loalty of singer, as well as other close friends living in the small town that makes the book a whole. I love reading all of sparks books....but this one I was blown away. I never wanted to stop reading it, I wanted to know what was going to happen next. A mixture of sadness, laughter, and mystery. A great read!
READER22CC More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book!! It took me two days at most to read it!! Nicolas Sparks did a good job in pulling you into the book so you wanted to know every little thing that was going to come next. I would totally buy this book for a good read however you will get through it really fast therefore have another book to read after it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was literally very hard for me to put down! In true Spark's fashion, of course the love story is what initially draws you in, but then the suspense comes in and truly captivates your attention. When I was first choosing which book to purchase, I kind of hesitated on this one because admittedly I am by no means a dog lover, but once I became engrossed in this story, you cannot help but fall in love with Singer. This was truly a fantastic story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dragged myself throught it. Skipped many pages the bookwas torture. Dont think i will b reading any more book fromthis author. Not intoit at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first half was kinda boring. It just rambled on and on. I really didn't feel the attraction between mike and julie. I loved singer though. Safe Haven was by far the best book by Sparks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nicholas Sparks has done it again. This was not only a romance novel but a thriller as well. I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat because this book, it was not that I was really scared for myself but I was scared for the characters in the story and I had to find out how it ended. I soon found that it ended with me crying like a good ole Nicholas sparks novel will always make me do.
hermonie731 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Sparks has done it again. This book keeps you wanting for more. The plot was great love story and suspenceful all at the same time. You don't want to put it down. I have read alot of Nicholas Sparks books and this one is just as great as the rest of them.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Did not like it much
Anonymous 10 months ago
OK. Call me crazy...I have read literally hundreds of novels, and I wait until I am 50 years old to read a Nicholas Sparks book? Am I nuts!?? So now I understand the fascination and the Fandom. Mind you, I have seen so many of these movies and loved them, but I don't know why I never READ one of his stories. And thank you Lord, that I decided to read this particular one. Everything clicked. I mean everything! I have a big dog that I love more than anything (well my husband ranks up there...haha), my daughter was in the Marine Corps at Jacksonville and went to Topsail often and still lives in Wilmington so I am familiar with all the topography in the book, and I totally understand the love story too. But honestly this has to be the best book I have read in ages. And I am a major reader! Read this book! It is amazing and had me up for two nights in a row until the birds began to sing. I could go on and on, but it would never give this read justice. Five stars! No doubt. M. Cunningham in WV.