Reviewed by Mandi
Anne Calhoun gives us a more serious and somber erotic story of two people working their way through the first year of their relationship. From meeting, to having sex, to marriage and then divorce, Daniel and Tilda have quite the journey this first year. Daniel is a FBI agent in NYC who investigates white-collar crime. He meets Tilda one night at a mutual friend’s house. Tilda is from England but attended NYU and made New York city her home. She owns a very high-end stationery shop in the west village and the shop is just like her – all sleek lines and very classy. Just for fun, Tilda also plays matchmaker to friends and friends of friends. Finding a hand-written note very intimate and something that most people are missing out of their lives, she makes her intended couples write letters and matches them this way. This part of Tilda doesn’t play a huge part in the story, but it does play a big role into the type of person Tilda is as an adult.
Couture stationary was her labor of love, but connecting people with unusual desires was her passion, her specialty. Given enough time, she managed to match most people who ended up on her list.
The first time Daniel sees Tilda, he wants her. He asks her to dinner, but she declines. Later, out of the blue, she starts to receive very interesting texts from Daniel, and she can only assume he is “sexting” her by mistake.
I want to go down on you.
Correction: I want to tie you to the bed and go down on you until you can’t talk.
There are many more. Oh Daniel.
Tilda decides to run over to his office to let him know he is texting the wrong person – but Daniel has Tilda figured out. Or so he thinks. He knows from their first meeting that she craves a little danger and wildness. Tilda is a woman who is extremely in control and rigid, yet has a tightly bundled coil of energy and wild behavior deep inside her. He knows she would not be able to resist these dirty texts – and he was right.
They start having sex (dirty, intense sex) from then on. Six months later they marry, six months later, Tilda asks for a divorce (you learn this all in the first chapter of the book, and then we go back one year to the beginning). What happens during that year which leads from passionate sex to a divorce – that is the book, and that is what you will have to discover.
It’s a more serious, somber book. Daniel is all warmth and kindness. Tilda is kind too – but she is a cool breeze. They both are very dedicated to work and work long hours. Tilda’s stationary company is in talks to go global, and this deal takes up a lot of her time. Tilda comes from a high-powered career mother who sent her off to boarding school, where Daniel comes from a more traditional close-knit family. These backgrounds start to clash a bit as their relationship progresses.
What kept me totally engaged in this story is Tilda. I think some readers out there are going to call her too cold for their tastes. And I completely understand why. She is cold. She has this intense, rigid side to her. I’m not sure she ever spontaneously bursts into laughter in this book. But, I felt the chemistry between her and Daniel. She does push him away because deep down she has low self-esteem and a very vulnerable side that she tries so hard to hide. But she intrigued me. As Daniel peels back each layer of her, the more interested I became.
Tilda didn’t jump into this marriage with gleeful open arms. I believe she loved Daniel, but I think she sees marriage as more of a cage. I never felt like she wanted anyone but Daniel, but the idea of marriage, of being domestic is not something Tilda is familiar with. She doesn’t sit around daydreaming of weddings and babies and the future. For her, it’s feeling in the moment. It’s pushing that boundary just a little to get a dangerous feel.
“Marriage hasn’t ruined you.”
She sipped her wine and watched Daniel’s conversation with the archaeologist, Daniel nodding and listening, the archaeologist gesturing expansively. “Pardon?”
“You’ve not transformed into a dull matron.”
“I’m twenty-eight. Give me a few years and see what happens,” she said, but even as she spoke, she couldn’t imagine herself celebrating a five-year anniversary.
Daniel’s love for her is pretty simple honestly. He just plain loves her. Tilda challenges him and Daniel likes that excitement in his life. His family is so opposite of Tilda, they don’t understand his attraction to her.
The problem was that sometimes the things that were best for you weren’t the things that made you feel complete. When he was with Tilda, he felt whole.
“I love her,” Three words, single syllables. They should say everything he needed to say and yet to someone on the outside they were meaningless.
“I just don’t see how she’ll make you happy.”
Maybe he didn’t want to be made happy. Maybe he didn’t want someone to slot him into the neat, orderly rows of How Things Are Done. Maybe he wanted someone who not only sat on ledges or slipped over cliffs, but also dared him to go over with her.
There is a bigger revelation at the end which explains some of Tilda’s actions and reactions. I kind of expected this to have a bigger impact than it did – but at the same time, once this revelation comes to light, Tilda doesn’t magically become a different person. But a weight is lifted off of her and other things happen and I believed in a happy ever after for her and Daniel.
On a side note I have to say, the descriptions of stationery in this book and Tilda’s passion towards it comes across so well and rich in detail. I appreciated the detail the author put into making that a big part of the story.