A scarred hero, a traumatized heroine, a love that has waited years to emerge - that is what awaits you in this fantastic book by Kelly Bowen! I so enjoyed this book, especially how much both the hero and heroine grow over the course of the story. There is so much misunderstanding, followed by forgiveness and trust, and I loved the natural progression everything took as various things occurred. The author does a great job of not minimizing any of the difficult subjects in the book and paints a realistic picture of what people go through during and after being bullied. There is such an important message to be heard in these pages!
Once the most popular among the ladies, Eli Dawes is now a recluse, hiding away after the Battle of Waterloo in hopes that the world will forget about him. But when he is found and told of his father's death, he realizes that the time to return home has come. He will do so in his own time though, and he chooses to return to a more remote property owned by his family. During his attempt to sneak in, he is caught by a young woman who is very familiar to him - Rose Hayward. Years ago, Rose was humiliated and betrayed by her fiance, Eli's best friend, and she has believed him to be complicit in the deception. Now that Eli has returned from the dead, the long-buried memories have returned as well. Secrets are about to be revealed, and all is not as it seems in Dover, England.
The development of both Eli and Rose as characters was phenomenal! I loved their characters from the start, recognizing that each have flaws and challenges to overcome, and their personal journeys resonated with me. Eli never wanted to return to the spotlight, preferring to stay hidden away in Dover, but that was next to impossible with Rose nudging him to embrace his new station in life. While Rose herself was hiding away, she also made her life's mission to help people love themselves and not allow society's opinion of them to alter their self image. Her artwork made such a difference in the lives of so many, and it was inspiring to learn about how much she had to overcome by herself. Rose needed a Rose of her own years ago, and she didn't want anyone else to go through life's trials alone. Eli and Rose were a perfect pair, and the fact that Eli had kept his love for her hidden for so long made their relationship all the sweeter. Over time, she broke down his defences, and he did the same for her. It was beautiful!
I continue to be impressed by Kelly Bowen's writing and look forward to the next book in the series!
**I received a free copy from the publisher and this is my honest review.**