The characters in this story were extraordinarily well crafted and real. The heroine was both sweet and funny, her devotion to the man she loved incredibly endearing, while the hero invited endless amounts of sympathy throughout, due to his tragic past.
When Caroline Arabella Starling meets her brother's best friend, Ronan Henry Dearborn, the fourth Marquess of Caldwell, for the first time at the age of thirteen, she takes an instant liking to him. In spite of the twelve year difference between the two, they become close friends, meeting once a week - every Thursday - for a game of piquet. And as the years go by, Caroline falls hopelessly and madly in love with him, still holding out hope when he insists she's too young for him.
But it isn't just the age difference that prompts Caldwell to keep Caroline at arm's length. After losing his investment to a fire, he's penniless and desperate, completely unworthy of any lady's affection. Humiliated by the choices he's forced to make in order to get by, he puts distance between himself and the girl who has always idolized him.
Three years go by until they meet again, and Caldwell finds that Caroline has transformed into a stunning beauty. Her feelings for him are unchanged, and so she sets about trying to win him again, with greater success than before. But secrets from his past are destined to get these two tangled up in a series of terrible misunderstandings that only an open heart and absolute honesty can hope to undo.
I found Caldwell's story to be absolutely heart-wrenching! It is filled with so much angst, and just when you think it can't get any worse, something else is revealed. But the interaction between him and Caroline is wonderful, their conversation wrought with humor as their relationship gradually progresses from simple friendship to so much more.
Delilah Marvelle is a fantastic storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and was very relieved when Caroline and Caldwell finally got the happy ending they both so thoroughly deserved.