When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his first tour of duty in Iraq. He carries the photo in his pocket, and soon wins a sudden streak of poker games and even survives deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. His best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.
The novel deals with the themes of fate and destiny. Despite the allusions to such themes made in the novel, Sparks admitted that he does not necessarily believe in either. He adds, however, that he is "... a big believer in the fact that people have the ability to influence the future in a way that seems coincidental and when that happens, the feeling of fate or destiny is amplified. ... In the end, when writing The Lucky One, I wanted to explore the subject of fate or destiny, but in a way that reflected the reality of the world."
Back home in Colorado, Thibault begins to believe that the woman in the photo somehow holds the key to his destiny. He sets out on a journey across the country to find her, and eventually encounters Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son, in Hampton, North Carolina.
Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. He and Elizabeth begin a serious love affair, but the secret of the photo will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.