Review: Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun

 Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun His head was swimming, and not from the shots.  He was a Mister, not a Marine.  Brookhaven looked like something out of an architectural magazine.  His ex-fiancee was marrying his best friend and twenty minutes after coming home he was inside Marissa Brooks.

Adam Collins has returned home from five tours in Afghanistan.  He has agreed to be the best man at his ex-fiancee and best friend’s wedding.  After so many years away from his ex, things happened and their relationship ended.  Keith was there to pick up the pieces and great for him.  His relationship with Delaney was all about comfort and what was expected of him anyway.  Oh, he loved her, but he didn’t need her.  He didn’t crave her.  He didn’t have to have her.  Those feeling were reserved for Marissa Brooks.

In hindsight, with her felt everything he didn’t feel with Marissa.  He felt nothing at all, and that felt safe.

Marissa Brooks comes from a family of dreamers.  They are always looking for the next big, shiny thing.  Brookhaven was Marissa’s next big, shiny thing and she is about done fixing it up.  She has agreed to host the wedding party for Keith and Delaney.  What she doesn’t know is what she will do with her life once that is done.  Why does completing the final piece give her such anxiety that even days before the wedding she is unable to do it?  Her whole life has been about fixing Brookhaven.  What will she do now?

I think my biggest problem with Unforgiven was Marissa.  I am not one who wants the heroine to be a prude or for the hero to be their one and only but Marissa had a very casual attitude about sex that really put me off.  When they were younger, Adam was a virgin and Marissa was the one pushing to go all the way.  Fast forward a decade or so and it seems like Marissa’s view on sex never changed.

“Marissa will make your bathroom or your kitchen or your sun porch look like something out of Architectural Digest, but she had a string of me teaching her what she needed to know, and she paid them the old-fashioned way.”

Admittedly that quote is from a very unlikable character but that doesn’t change how she is viewed.  She makes the comment that she liked each man she slept with and they liked her so what was the big deal?  When compared to Adam who had sex with two women, Delaney and Marissa, she came off looking very bad and I am not sure I ever got over how I viewed her.

Ms. Calhoun has a way of writing a book that puts me on an emotional roller coaster and maybe this time that was not in a good way?  There is nothing comfortable about Unforgiven.  There are things that happen that made me angry.  I was very unhappy with how they were resolved.  You know how you always want the bad guy to get their just deserts?  Well here, they didn’t.  I understand how all along it wasn’t about the bad guy and things played out like they had to but that didn’t make me like it. I didn’t turn that final page with a happy sign.

I am struggling with my grade because there is nothing wrong with the writing.  The book was intense and riveting with seriously combustible chemistry between the main characters.  But I was unhappy with the way things played out.  Maybe someone else will see the conclusion for something that is exactly as it should be but I was not that person.  If you are a fan of Ms. Calhoun’s work, which I am, I still encourage you to read this book.  And if you do, come back and tell me what you think.  I want to know how this one plays out for everyone else.  Final grade- B-

Favorite Quote:

“I fucked splinters into your back,”

Rating: B-
Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun
June 4th 2013 by Berkley
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    • says

      She was faithful to the hero. There was no cheating. Read what Mandi said below. That is the other perspective I was looking for.

      • says

        Ok good, no cheating. That’s a hard one to get past for me. But I don’t usually have a problem with either the hero or heroine having multiple (previous) partners in romance so that probably wouldn’t have bothered me. What I’m getting from your review is you didn’t like the heroines casual attitude about sex?

        • Jen says

          Yes, casual. I think that because the hero was the exact opposite it made her attitude seem so much more callous. Normally that sort of thing wouldn’t bother me.

  1. Mandi says

    I loved that we finally got a heroine who embraces sex. It’s always the hero. Why can’t a heroine love to have sex with multiple men? She never used that sex against Adam who was out of her life at that time. When confronted about it I think she tells Adam – I liked the guys I dated and slept with. End of story.

    Heroes in romance always have casual sex where heroines are expected to “not be loose” – why is it bad she had sex with more than two people? I don’t know – I always get frustrated when the hero is the one who always has more sexual partners. I was glad it was the heroine’s turn this time.

    I’ll stop babbling now 😉

    • says

      LOL Your babbling is what I was looking for!

      I had so many highs and lows with this book. I wanted people to burn when I learned what happened….and not much came of it. How did you feel about that part?