In A Rose for Julian, it didn’t take the author pages and pages to get to the characters’ raison d’etre – or rather their emotional baggage! And, although all the characters are rather predictable in their actions (even the other characters seem to know what the others are going to do!), it doesn't take away from the story. Rose and Julian are both admirable characters, and real enough to understand (and thus predict) their actions thoroughly.
Julian is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome upon his return from the Crimean war. He injured his legs badly, and although he will be able to walk again by doing physical therapy, he refuses to help himself lead an otherwise normal life. He practically lives in his bedchamber, with no one but his valet for occasional company. His parents, the Earl and Countess of Eversleigh, are desperate – they want their son back the way he was! – not some recluse forever living in his bedchamber! So, in desperation, they hire Rose Cranmer, the best nurse that money can buy to help Julian work through his mental and physical disabilities.
Rose, who was also at the war, understands what Julian is going through. And, as proof of her reputation, it doesn’t take long for her to manipulate Julian into walking again – or at least trying to! But Rose isn’t just a skillful nurse – she has a secret she’s terribly ashamed of involving a man who she lives in fear of. Thus, when the Eversleighs offer her the job of being Julian’s nurse, they also promised to protect her and keep her safe – no questions asked.
Everyone in the story, except for the crazed villain, is appallingly nice - and it’s not bad at all! From the earl and countess to their servants, they all accept Rose, whose background is quite humble and common, for her compassionate nature and skills as a nurse. Rose, however, as a consequence of her secret, feels undeserving of their friendship. Just as Rose has her work cut out for her in nursing Julian back to complete physical health, Julian has to convince Rose that he accepts her despite her shady past. In any case, Rose’s secret isn’t such a secret after several chapters when the other characters, namely Julian and his mother, the countess, figure out quite quickly what she’s been trying to hide. These people are not only nice, they’re also devilishly clever.
Aside from the romance and the “mystery” of Rose’s past, the story brings to issue the prejudices of the rich but common folk and the aristocrats, only to find that they’re not so different after all. Julian, although a compassionate sort of aristocrat, still manages to find something surprising about himself as a result of getting together with Rose. It’s really all rather sweet, but not so much that it’s unbearable. All in all, A Rose for Julian stands out as a nice quick getaway from the real world.