Monday Movies: Safe Haven

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Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders,

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Released: 2013
Length: 1h 55m

Safe Haven starts out with a serious injection of suspense, with a girl running from ... something. It's dark, she's terrified and crying - and I'm instantly hooked. She's plainly on the run, and when it turns out the Boston police are looking for her, you can't help but wonder what she's done.

Our gorgeous heroine, brought to life by the beautifully dainty  but not-to-be-underestimated Julianne Hough, ends up settling somewhat accidentally in the idyllic little town of Southport, North Carolina, where it doesn't take long for her to catch the attention of Alex, who runs the convenience store on the pier.

The movie flips back and forth between Katie as she builds her new life, and the detective attempting to hunt her down - and despite my reasoning that if the police are looking for her, it must be for a good reason, I find myself rooting for Katie, watching hopefully for clues as to what happened to her, and already just a little sure that whatever she's running from, whatever she's done ... it's not her fault. And the more I got to know about Alex, the better I liked him too. Single dad, struggling widower, kindhearted, and cute - I mean really, what's not to love, right?

As the movie progresses there are lots of little hints toward what happened with Katie, but as I got more into the story and more intrigued by her budding relationship with Alex, I stopped watching so closely for the mystery and let myself fall in love with the romance.

Still, behind the love story, the mystery is alive and well, and the sneaking suspicion that's been nagging at me through the whole movie only grows more insistent with each scene with the detective hunting our heroine. Who is he? What does he want?

And then ... the twist. The plot twist that had my mouth falling open even as my heart screamed, "I knew it!!"

As I watched the rest of the movie, there was pit in my stomach that made me wish I wasn't watching it alone - and yet this wasn't the sort of movie I could have drawn my girls into for the company. It was hard to watch, and I found myself wishing the description of the movie had been just a little more clear. Had I been warned, I would have been able to watch it better, with a little preparation. All the same, a part of me knew from the very beginning - I was warned by the screaming bells in my head, by the sense of nauseous dread that settled in me from the very first scene, by the way my breath caught and my skin broke out in goose bumps. I knew.

Plot twist number two? Chills. Panic. Another one I saw coming but just wasn't ready to watch. I watched with tears in my eyes and my teeth clenched so hard it made my face hurt - but I watched.

And then I took a shower and had a good long cry before coming back to watch the rest.

Hidden Delights From This Movie:
1. The first look at the beach, which made me so homesick my heart started aching and my mind brought back the salt-scented air of the ocean with absolutely no effort at all.
2. When Alex fell through the floor, I actually laughed out loud. It was nice to watch Katie drop her fear long enough to feel comfortable.
3. The rain. And I know, a couple stuck in a rainstorm is kind of classic for Nicholas Sparks, but ... I don't know, there's just something about those moments. Caught in the storm, two people having to let their guard down ... It can only end well. And it's a bucket list item for me, so there's that.
4. Everything until Alex got back in the cop's car. The dance? Yes. The kiss??  *swoon*  You guys, I can't, oh my gosh.
5. That plot twist though. Damn!
6. "I'm in love with you. And if you stay, I promise - there's no safer place in the world than right here with me." The hope that a man can say this and actually mean it? I cried.
7. Lexi's lie. So straightfaced and so instinctive - but it spoke volumes of her strength and wisdom, as well as her willingness to protect what (and who) she loves.
8. That letter. What a beautiful and very, very Nicholas Sparks sort of ending. 

I loved this movie - despite all the times I had to pause it, despite the gasp moments, despite the times I closed my eyes because listening was all I could do. I loved it for the hope and the encouragement, for the softness and sweetness of the romance. I loved it for that hot first kiss, for the way Alex was as a dad, for the way he couldn't be the hero for Katie - only a source of much needed confident courage. It's a must-see ... it just is.
Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is ... one of my books, Fighting For Freedom. It's the first book in the Freedom Series, but much more importantly, it's a story with certain similarities to this one - a story close to my heart and wildly important to me.

In Fighting For Freedom: "He'd finally done it. He'd beaten me to death. For years, I'd been taking it, accepting the beatings, silently believing the worthlessness he saw in me. I'd obeyed his rules, I'd catered to his whims. I finally woke up in a hospital bed. Bruised, broken, in shock. That was the moment. In that moment, I knew that I had to get out. I loved my husband. I missed him. But I needed more than he would ever offer. I deserved more than I'd been given, more than flying fists and fragile tempers. I deserved to wear what I chose. I deserved to go where I wanted. I deserved goodnight kisses. I deserved gentle touches. I deserved to feel loved, and not possessed." WARNING: Although it is meant to be a story of hope and physical empowerment, this book is focused on the topic of domestic violence and abuse, and it does contain scenes of extreme violence as well as some very strong language. It is NOT suitable for young readers (Purchase for KindleiBooksNookKobo, or Inktera/Page Foundry.)

The Freedom Series is a series of women's fiction romance novels. The series begins with Christine Matthews's journey from victim of domestic violence to victorious conqueror of circumstances. Later in the series, we'll see the rest of Christine's story, as well as get to know other strong and resilient characters, each one fighting for freedom, each one desperate to escape prisons of their own making.

NOTE: This is usually where I have my affiliate disclaimer, since I'm usually using affiliate links through which I receive a (very) small commission. To be clear, while the image for Safe Haven at the beginning of this post IS an affiliate link to Amazon, I am not using any affiliate linking for Fighting For Freedom, as this is my own book (and duh, ethics). If you'd like to see a more complete list of my sponsoring and affiliate companies, you'll find them here.
As always, my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

If you've seen this movie and wanted to add anything in the comments below, please feel free - I love the opportunity to interact with my readers, and if you think someone you know would be interested in this movie review, definitely pin or share this post!

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