Although Castles in the Air has its share of intrigue, deception, and angst, it's definitely not a depressing book. That's because Raymond and Julianna are, from the get-go, basically two good-hearted people, who are destined to love each other. There are some different angles to the book - Julianna is a widow with two girls, her first husband wasn't evil (although just about every other man in her past was), and although she's plenty strong-willed, she's not totally goat-headed like a lot of heroines are. Yes, Raymond is the classic hansom hero, but he's got an endearing personality too. (Plus, he doesn't get along with his parents - don't heroes usually admire their father and worship their sainted mothers?) Another interesting side to the book is Dodd's attempt to portray medieval England at least somewhat accurately - the lady of the castle still sleeps in the great hall (enough of these castles with all these private rooms!), walls take years to build, 11-year-old girls aren't considered far from marriageable (or worse), pagan rituals are still observed, even by pious Christians. Some of the side characters are interesting and well-drawn (Kier just cries for his own book), others (Sir Hugh) aren't fleshed out enough to really understand. Love (the emotion) is very strong in this book, "love" (the physical act) is not as "fleshed out" (pun intended) as it is in other Dodd books. Overall, a great read because of the wonderful love story.