Ben Coverdale is the protagonist in this trilogy. At the beginning of the story, he is a fairly normal thirty-something guy who works in the IT industry. That is until he falls for Mary, the girl with the chestnut hair and dark brown eyes that he could swim in. Whilst she doesn't reciprocate his feelings, they agree to share resources and buy a flat together. All goes well, and they get to know each other "extremely well".
Mary was reluctant at first to share a flat with Ben. She liked him, but, as far as she was concerned there was nothing more than that to their relationship. It was totally platonic. Ben followed the rules. So much so that when her feelings for him started to change, he showed no signs of being interested. After several attempts at getting his attention, she took the bull by the horns, as it were, and eventually they became lovers.
When, five years later, Mary announces that she is leaving him to live with Donald, a man old enough to be her father, Ben decides that he now has the opportunity to follow a dream that he has had for many years, and move to France. He hopes to leave his problems behind but ...
Donald saw in Mary the answer to a number of problems that remained in his life. He had had to make a very hasty exit from South Africa several years earlier. Mary bore an uncanny resemblance to the coloured girl who had been the reason for his escape. He had unfinished business in South Africa, and this girl could be his ticket.
Katie has had her eye on Ben for a long time, but he has never shown much interest in her. She did manage to get him into bed with her once, but he didn't - or was it couldn't? - perform. He only had eyes for Mary. For Katie he was a challenge. She liked men. She enjoyed men. Since discovering sex at a very early age, she could never get enough of it. Ben was one of few who got away and when he moved to France, she thought she would never see him again.
Georgina is the skatty one. She worked at the same hair salon as Mary and had the nickname of "Grunge" for many years due to her outrageous hair styles and clothes.
She also liked Ben, but realised that there could never be anything between them because of their different lifestyles. She was the one who helped him get his life back together when Mary walked out on him, but she knew that his mind was still full of Mary.
Then there's Madame Delphine, an ex Folies Bergere dancer who befriends Ben when he arrives in France and helps him find his dream home - La Sanctuaire, and many other likeable characters who are introduced through the books.