Barbara Houlton is a best-selling romance author, known for her achingly sweet love stories. However, her own love-life is nothing to write home about. Raped on the eve of her high-school graduation, she was left pregnant and scarred, both emotionally and physically. She has learned to hide the physical scars, but the emotional scars that taint her soul become harder to hide each day. Sarcasm, avoidance and denial have become weapons to keep her monstrous past at bay. Barbara avoids her home town at all costs. She denies to all those who are concerned for her that there is anything wrong. And those who try to pass her protective boundaries are met with her cutting sarcasm. Her emotional scars make intimacy a frightening thing, and those who try to grasp this beautiful rose are quickly met with her thorns. Instead, she loves through her characters, embracing her romantic dreams with every book she writes, and convinces herself it is enough.
When her father falls ill, she is forced to return home to Hamilton, New Mexico, a small town that comes with big problems, the biggest of which is Steve Meston. Steve has had a crush on Barbara since high school. But he is no longer the awkward, shy boy from her youth. He is now confident, handsome and relentless in his pursuit of her, despite her best efforts to put him off. His patient and steadfast love back her into a corner, and she finds that all her weapons are useless against his sweet love. Now she must stop avoiding and confront her past, or lose the one man who was able to get past her thorns.