A picturesque Southern setting. A rain-soaked kiss. A timeless love story. There are a few things one can always expect from a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, but the best-selling author's latest big-screen effort, "Safe Haven," also boasts a bit of surprise intrigue — something MTV News learned while visiting the North Carolina set last year.

The film follows Julianne Hough's Katie as she flees mysterious circumstances at home, finding refuge in the small coastal town of Southport, NC, with Josh Duhamel's widower Alex.

"Katie's extremely guarded because she's leaving an abusive relationship, and she's not really willing to open up about it either, until she finds a guy and a life here in Southport that she feels she can open up to and feel safe," Hough explained of her role.

But, as you probably guessed, the couple's serendipitous meeting is only the beginning of the story — one that culminates in a blazing inferno, which MTV News witnessed firsthand while on set.

"We're shooting the big, burning-down-the-house music video," Duhamel joked in between takes.

"This is such a different Nicholas Sparks movie," Hough continued. "It's a thriller more than it is a 'Notebook'-style movie."

Sparks agreed: "There's a growing element of danger and suspense in the film that I think viewers are really going to like," he said. But, of course, fans of the author's work know to expect more than a little romance, too.

"I just don't think it would be a Nicholas Sparks film without that wild chemistry moment between the two main characters," Sparks said.

"We definitely have some kisses," Hough agreed, "but I think it's more about uncomfortable, awkward moments that you actually do have in real life. I think we had a lot in common with our characters so it just made for a good chemistry."

You can judge Hough and Duhamel's chemistry for yourself when "Safe Haven" hits theaters February 14.