“The course of true love never did run smooth” – William Shakespeare, in A Midsummer’s Night Dream

And so it is for all great love stories and of course, film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ romance novels. To date, there are a total of 10 films based on his books. As it is with most heart-stopping romances, the lovers are star-crossed; someone (or two) always has to die, especially after at least one night of lovemaking; and heck, they always look like movie stars.

I know that it isn’t easy trying to recall which celebrities starred in which films, how droolworthy they were and whether they were convincing enough to make you buy Sparks’ often implausible plots, so I’ve done it for you here so you can decide. Presenting the 10 Nicholas Sparks movie couples:

1. The grieving widower and lonesome divorcee

Journalist Theresa Osborne (Robin Wright Penn) and world-weary widower Garret Blake (Kevin Costner) in Message In A Bottle

Journalist Theresa Osborne (Robin Wright Penn) and world-weary widower Garret Blake (Kevin Costner) in Message In A Bottle (1999). Image credit: minimoviekeren.com

Synopsis of Message In A Bottle (1999): Theresa (Robin Wright Penn), a lonely divorcee and researcher for the Chicago Tribune, comes across a love letter inside a bottle on a morning jog at the beach. It is addressed from Garrett to Catherine. As fate would have it, two more of these letters cross her path, and she tracks down their author, Garrett Blake (Kevin Costner), a grieving widower who builds boats for a living. They get acquainted in the way only two lonely grown-ups in a love story would (ahem), but Garrett doesn’t know that Theresa is in possession of his letters. Theresa’s career flourishes as she tells the romantic tale of the “messages in a bottle” in print, without naming names, but her little secret is discovered one day when Garrett visits (they live really far apart, which is why he hasn’t read her articles about the messages in a bottle) and finds the letters in her apartment. They argue, he leaves in a huff, and a year later, Theresa finds another message inside a bottle – only this time it is addressed to her.

Drool factor: 6/10. One has to admit that this movie is made for an audience of a certain vintage.

Couple chemistry: Good, but maybe it’s just me who cringes at the love scenes because these two look too much like mum and dad.

2. The bad boy and goody-two-shoes girl-next-door

School heartthrob Landon Carter (Shane West) and minister's daughter Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) in A Walk To Remember (2002)

School heartthrob Landon Carter (Shane West) and minister’s daughter Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) in A Walk To Remember (2002). Image credit: donedirtcheapdvd.com.au

Synopsis of A Walk To Remember (2002): This teen romance set in a small American town during the 1950s has everything a pubescent girl could wish for in a chicklit fantasy. Landon Carter (Shane West), the hero of the story, is the only son of a wealthy family. He’s rebellious, got caught for underage drinking and is always up to all sorts of shenanigans. Playing his seemingly unlikely love interest is plain-looking Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a church minister’s daughter whom he has known since kindergarten. She wears modest dresses, owns only one sweater and gads about without make-up on her face, which makes her “different” from the other girls. One day he asks for her help at memorising his lines for a school play; love grows between them over numerous practice sessions, and at the end of the opening night, he kisses her. But other than the fathers (one rich snob and the other a conservative widower), something malignant stands in the way of them living happily ever after…

Drool factor: 5/10. Mandy Moore looks adorable but they don’t get a higher score because Shane West looks like Neil Patrick Harris (that annoying sidekick in How I Met Your Mother).

Couple chemistry: Good. A Metacritic reviewer says that their onscreen chemistry is the saving grace of this movie.

3. The rich Charleston heiress and her forbidden white cracker boyfriend

Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) in The Notebook (2004) Image credit: images4.fanpop.com

Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) in The Notebook (2004). Image credit: images4.fanpop.com

Synopsis of The Notebook (2004): The tale of Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) romance is read by an old gentleman to his aging companion at a modern-day nursing home. Allie and Noah are two teens who fall in love at a carnival and begin a whirlwind courtship that is soon staunched by Allie’s upper-class parents who call Noah “trash”. Separated by distance and circumstance, Allie thinks that Noah has forgotten her, because her mother has blocked all his letters without her knowledge. Several years pass and, when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to choose between her soulmate and class order. Have a box of tissues ready if you’re going to watch this one. According to various reviews, the tear-jerking factor for Nicholas Sparks’ movie adaptations is benchmarked by The Notebook. Nothing can come close to triggering a torrent of wracking sobs like this one.

Drool factor: 7/10. I would have given them 8 or 9 points if not for that awful beard Gosling had to grow for the latter part of the movie.

Couple chemistry: Amazeballs. The Telegraph says that The Notebook is oft-cited as one of the films with the most intense onscreen chemistry between the two leading actors. However, it is also widely known that the pair couldn’t get along off-screen and Gosling almost wanted director Nick Cassavetes to replace McAdams halfway through filming. That said, Cosling and McAdams dated for more than three years after they wrapped the film.

4. The egoistic surgeon and struggling divorcee

Paul (Richard Gere) and Adrienne (Diane Lane)  gaze at each other across a candlelit table in Nights In Rodanthe (2008) Image credit: aceshowbiz.com

Paul (Richard Gere) and Adrienne (Diane Lane) gaze at each other across a candlelit table in Nights In Rodanthe (2008). Image credit: aceshowbiz.com

Synopsis of Nights In Rodanthe (2008) [Spoiler alert]: Paul (Richard Gere) is a highly wound-up surgeon who traded family for career and is estranged from his son. Adrienne (Diane Lane) is a divorcee who is struggling with an unfaithful ex-husband who wants to rekindle their marriage and a rebellious daughter who hates her. By serendipity, their paths cross at an inn in Rodanthe, North Carolina, which they have all to themselves for the entire weekend. They find emotional comfort (read: they hooked up) and camaraderie in each other, eventually leaving the inn to reconcile with their respective children, and never reunite again despite their best intentions to do so.

Drool factor: 7/10. It’s Richard Gere, man. He’s a suspected vampire and will look good even at 90. I know I will eventually get to Lane’s age and part of this may be the costume designer’s fault, but does anyone else feel that Lane looks a bit “auntie”?

Couple chemistry: Tried-and-tested. This is the third movie (The Cotton Club, 1984 and Unfaithful, 2002) in which Gere and Lane are paired off.

5. The special forces army man and sweet college darling

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) maintain a seven-year long-distance relationship by writing letters to each other in Dear John (2010). Image credit: herestheproblem.files.wordpress.com

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) maintain a seven-year long-distance relationship by writing letters to each other in Dear John (2010). Image credit: herestheproblem.files.wordpress.com

Synopsis of Dear John (2010) [Spoiler alert]: Dear John tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by John’s increasingly dangerous deployments. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a continuous stream of love letters overseas – until one day when the real Dear John letter arrives. This is one of the rare films where neither half of the couple is killed off before the story ends, which is a relief because it means you get to see PEOPLE’S Sexiest Man Alive! in the first scene and the last.

Drool factor: 10/10. The brooding Tatum and sylphlike Seyfried are an insistently good-looking couple from start to finish.

Couple chemistry: Mixed reviews on this one. Many reviewers say that Tatum was more of eye candy than a good actor, while others were more forgiving precisely because they had not expected Tatum to put up an emotive performance.

6. The teenagers who meet at the beach one summer

Veronica

Veronica “Ronnie” Miller (Miley Cyrus) and Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth) pair up in The Last Song (2010). Image credit: aceshowbiz.com

Synopsis of The Last Song (2010) [Spoiler alert]: Finally, a Nicholas Sparks-book-based-movie without slushy lovemaking scenes, and both halves of the romantic couple survive! But before you put those tissues away, let me remind you that the word “last” in the movie title isn’t there for nought – someone still dies. Miley Cyrus as a long-haired brunette (she was still in Hannah Montana back then) plays the part of sullen 17-year-old Ronnie Miller, who is forced to spend summer with her estranged father (Greg Kinnear). She meets Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth) on the beach and puppy lurve blossoms, but I get the feeling that their romance is just a sub-plot. Under the watchful eye of her father, the young lovers don’t get to hanky-panky, and there’s certainly no twerking.

Drool factor: 6/10. More like cute factor, with the Cyrus/Hemsworth pairing feel like an after-school get-together. I find Kinnear way more droolsome than xiaodidi Hemsworth.

Couple chemistry: Sparks certainly flew. Cyrus and Hemsworth hit it off from the moment cameras started rolling and went on to become a real couple offscreen, even getting engaged before ultimately breaking up in 2013.

7. The US Marine sergeant and the pretty woman in a photo he happened to find

Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) and Beth Green (Taylor Schilling) are locked in an almost-kissing embrace in The Lucky One (2012). Image credit: aceshowbiz.com

Beth Green (Taylor Schilling) and Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) look as though they are locked in a smouldering embrace in The Lucky One (2012), but they’re really kissing each other with their eyes open. Image credit: aceshowbiz.com

Synopsis of The Lucky One (2012): The title of the movie sends alarm bells tingling – why is it the lucky “one”, and not more than that? Who gets killed off in the end? God forbid that it be Zeus, the cute German shepherd who calls leading man Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) his master. Returning from his third tour of duty in Iraq, Logan seeks out Beth (Taylor Schilling), the woman in a photo he picked up on the battlefield. Thinking that her photo is his lucky charm, he seeks her out to thank her. Yet when they finally meet he never gets to spit out the real reason why he’s there; he takes up a job at Beth’s family-run local kennel instead. You can guess the rest: Beth, a vulnerable divorcee with a pre-teen son, grows to find the well-built and handy Logan irresistible, but gets mad when she finds out about the picture of her he’s been keeping. And it’s because someone died…

Drool factor: 10/10. It’s no wonder that Beth feels hot under the collar just looking at Logan handle all those heavy, manly chores.

Couple chemistry: Awkward; non-existent at best. Logan doesn’t look genuinely attracted to Beth, or rather, Efron doesn’t know how to act like he’s genuinely attracted to Beth. Then again, it may be difficult to get swept off your feet by a woman who channels the Furies.

8. The fugitive woman who seeks protection with a sexy widower

Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) and Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel) hang out on the beach in Safe Haven (2013). Image credit: nicholassparks.com

Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) and Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel) hang out on the beach in Safe Haven (2013). Image credit: nicholassparks.com

Synopsis of Safe Haven (2013): A thriller-cum-romance which leads viewers to think that if you bleach your hair, cut it short and skip town, it will be easy to find a charming, sexy widower with adorable and well-behaved children with whom you can start life anew in another place. Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) runs away from Boston after doing something terrible and goes to live in a small North Carolina town, where she warms up to Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel) and becomes like a mother to his children. Just when we think that it’s safe for Katie’s dark roots to grow out, the ghosts of her past creep up on her…

Drool factor: 9/10. Duhamel is so impossibly good-looking that you wonder how on earth he is still single and available by the time Hough gets to him. Oh wait, maybe he was waiting for someone just as gorgeous all this while.

Couple chemistry: Natural, which makes the scenes of intimacy set against corny backdrops (sun setting in the horizon, driving rain) somewhat watchable.

9. Young heiress and white cracker boy who eventually rises above his station

Young Dawson Cole (Luke Bracey) and young Amanda Collier (Liana Liberato) sitting in a tree in The Best Of Me (2014). Image credit: thebestofmemovie.com

Young Dawson Cole (Luke Bracey) and young Amanda Collier (Liana Liberato) sitting in a tree in The Best Of Me (2014). Image credit: thebestofmemovie.com

An older Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) and Dawson (James Marsden) in The Best Of Me (2014). Image credit: thebestofmemovie.com

An older Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) and Dawson (James Marsden) in The Best Of Me (2014). Image credit: thebestofmemovie.com

Synopsis of The Best Of Me (2014): This movie is narrated in the overlapping style of The Notebook, and involves two pairs of actors to play the same couple at different periods of their life. Dawson (James Marsden, Luke Bracey) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato) are two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they are reminded why they were separated in the first place. Somewhere in the middle we have a dysfunctional family, a murder plot and a car accident. Yep, sounds like Days Of Our Lives rolled into 117 minutes of screen time.

Drool factor: 6/10. Quantity does not equate to quality. Marsden plays the older Dawson and Bracey plays young Dawson. Monaghan plays older Amanda and Liberato plays young Amanda. I am just too distracted by how different they look.

Couple chemistry: The young Dawson and Amanda sizzled up the screen, but I hid my face in my hands when the older Dawson and Amanda got jiggy wi’ it.

10. Daredevil bull rider and wide-eyed college student

Sparks fly between former champion bullfighter Luke (Scott Eastwood) and college student Sophia (Brittany Robertson) in The Longest Ride (opening on April 9, 2015). Image credit: Golden Village Pictures

Sparks fly between former champion bullfighter Luke (Scott Eastwood) and college student Sophia (Brittany Robertson) in The Longest Ride (opening on April 9, 2015). Image credit: Golden Village Pictures

Synopsis of The Longest Ride (opening in theatres on April 9): Just when you thought that Nicholas Sparks had run out of permutations and combinations for his leading man and lady, he proves you wrong by digging deep into the neck of the woods and pulling out Luke (Scott Eastwood), a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia (Brittany Robertson), a college student who is about to embark on her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and fateful connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple.

Drool factor: 10/10. It’s Scott Eastwood. In a cowboy hat. Riding horses and bulls. Hello!

Couple chemistry: The jury is still out on this one since the movie has yet to be screened.

So, which is your favourite onscreen couple and why? And do go watch The Longest Ride and tell us what you think of the chemistry between Robertson and Eastwood! Leave your answers in the comments below!

Credits: nicholassparks.com; Wikipedia.com; thedivareview.comwww.rogerebert.com; dailymail.co.uk; metacritic.com; rotttentomatoes.com; imdb.com; mic.com; telegraph.co.uk