Character development was excellent. The main characters ~ Elizabeth Forester, a college English professor, and Jonathan Danforth, one of her students ~ are wonderfully written, and I definitely felt their emotions and struggles right along with them. Their uncertainty of each other, their wariness regarding falling in love, the tenderness they displayed toward one another and everything in between kept me interested as well as kept the story moving at a wonderful pace. Staci gives glimpses into the characters' lives and background without overdoing the details. Much about them - past and present - remained a mystery. Elizabeth has been badly hurt in the past and hides behind invisible walls she's built to protect herself and is all propriety and decorum; while Jonathan has suffered great loss and withdrawn from life and ends up feeling invisible, even though he doesn't realize this until Elizabeth points it out to him when she is granted glimpses of his life through the essays he writes for class assignments.
I haven't read much English literature, Jane Austen's writings, or Robert Browning's poetry, so I felt like I was enrolled in the class vicariously right alongside Jonathan and his classmates, almost like I was sitting in the classroom needing to be prepared to contribute to a discussion, analyze a poem or write an essay. I'm glad I didn't have to! Jonathan did a much better job that I would have done.
Staci really made me think when I was reading this book, breathing life into the literature Elizabeth teaches her students. The classics and characters are brought to life through in-class discussions and essays, and have a lot of literary "meat" to them. Her writing was poetic as well as evidenced by this simile: "Time slipped by like sand into the sea at high tide." It's hard for me to believe Staci Stallings isn't an English professor herself. If she was, I'd like to take a class from her.
One of my favorite things is the character development of Elizabeth and Jonathan and watching them grow and come out of their shells and be able to move beyond their hurts, their past experiences, and learn to live again and love each other. There is a Christian theme running throughout the book, so subtle it doesn't overwhelm the story, but hints at a relationship between God and Elizabeth.
There are several things I liked about this novel. Not only did I enjoy the chemistry between the characters, but I also liked the highly unique setting - a college campus. The apple scene in the park is one of my favorites. Until I read this part, I had forgotten about twisting the apple stem to find out who you're going to marry - my friends and I did the same thing when we were children. The last scene in the book is by far my favorite and sums up the story quite well. Jonathan is everything Elizabeth always wanted in a man, and in the end he proves this to her in a very romantic and poetic way. This was the perfect finish to a fun book, a clean and wholesome romance.