Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun
June 4, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi
Adam leaves the marines and heads back to his home town of Walkers Ford, South Dakota to figure out what is next in his life. First up is being the best man in his good friend’s wedding. And while this may seem like a fun, and joyous occasion, it is actually quite complicated.
Growing up Adam fell in love with a girl named Marissa. Adam was always high speed, high powered everything. Reckless, some would say. But the one area he was not reckless in was his relationship with Marissa. They had intense feelings and that passionate exploration you have when you are young, but he was always scared to go all the way with her. Instead, he would get all worked up with her, then leave her and speed away on his motorcycle, The last time he did this, his best friend ended up dying on the side of the road. That night he left and became a Marine, changing his life drastically. It was during this time that he started dating and became engaged to Delaney, who was safe and the opposite of Marissa. But eventually Adam realizes he can’t marry her and breaks it off. She soon becomes engaged to Adam’s friend Keith, which brings him home in the present day for their wedding.
The wedding is to be held at this huge estate manor called Brookhaven. Marissa has spent years fixing up what was once a dilapidated estate. This wedding will be its big debut. She has put blood and sweat into this renovation, as Brookhaven is in her blood. What no one knows is that while Brookhaven drives her, her true passion is sailing. She has never left South Dakota, but has read book after book and dreams of one day being on the water. When Adam shows up at Brookhaven unannounced, (a few days before the wedding) Marissa is shocked to see him. One look at each other and their passion from twelve years ago is right back.
I initially wanted to say this book is dark, but I’m not sure that is the right word. Maybe somber is better. I’m not saying it’s a sad book, but it is a heavy one with complex characters. (It also rains pretty much the entire book, which makes me think somber). It’s lovers reunited, with a lot of junk piling up since they last saw each other. While Adam is truly over Delaney, it’s still uncomfortable being the best man at her wedding. Things from Delaney’s past start to rear their ugly head, adding to Adam’s discomfort. Adam has an extreme amount of guilt over his friend’s death all those years ago. He blames himself, and he can’t forgive himself.
The main focus of this story though is Adam and Marissa’s journey back to one another. And it all starts in the pantry.
“You think we can just pick up exactly where we left off,” she said, still husky but now unsteady.
“Pick up and keep going,” he said bluntly. Not very romantic, but this wasn’t about romance. This was just old embers, coaxed back to life by a fifteen month deployment, fueled by alcohol. Nothing more.
Oh but there is much more. One of the things Anne Calhoun excels at is writing emotionally, tension-filled sex scenes. They are seriously so damn sexy. In another book, these two hooking up ten minutes after they see each other might seem silly or rash – but in this case, so much is explored and learned from their encounter. Each scene adds more to their relationship and is better than the last.
I love the way she writes Marissa. She cares so much for Brookhaven, but you just know she isn’t settled in life. She is very independent and proud of her work, but there is this sadness that hangs over her. As she worked on the house, she has had boyfriends, many who seemed to help her in certain areas of the house along the way. The town has taken to calling her slutty, something Adam puts a stop to as soon as he gets to town. Marissa has had many sexual partners and could care less about it. Adam has had two. I love that the author gives Marissa this background. How many times in romance books is the hero the one with all the sexual experience? It’s a nice change.
Adam comes back into her life, and this time opens her eyes and lets her explore new things. And she gives him the strength to accept the accident that took his friend so many years ago. I think Anne Calhoun has one of the best erotic voices out there right now. I highly recommend this one.