Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun

In my forays to contemporary romance books, I usually stick to the same few authors. Sometimes I like it them fun and quirky, sometimes ocean deep. Unforgiven, perhaps, falls on the latter.

After twelve years, Marissa and Adam are about to see each other again on one momentous event: the wedding of Adam's best friend and ex-fiance to be held on Marissa's old family home, Brookhaven.

It is a story of second chances and the discovery that life does not really boil down to a bumper sticker. That it is about who and what makes us feel alive, who gives us the overwhelming courage to be forgiving especially of our own failings. Lastly, that it's always been about Marissa and Adam, period.

One lingering impression about the book is its rather somber atmosphere weighing heavily throughout. It is always raining and cloudy but it fits the gloomy and wistful mood of the story and the inner turmoil going on between the main characters. It was seated with layers; the storms, the present invisible walls, the wreckage of their past seemed all connected.

I like that Calhoun wrote Marissa as this tough girl and self-made woman yet she is a dreamer with a heart wrapped in vulnerability. She made her one of those heroines with a remaining presence to me. Adam is at first almost a mystery, vague enough that I'm not really sure of him, perhaps because he is living another's life and forgot his true heart.

Anne Calhoun's earlier works have been labeled under erotica more often than not, but this first book in Walker's Ford series is a jump to the realms of contemporary. I had admired her charged writing, how she writes tension with crackling intensity and her tugging anguished metaphors. Furthermore, I was taken by its depth of emotion for Calhoun keeps digging and twisting, not settling for the expected turn.

I think what makes the story stick is the gradual breakdown of Adam and Marissa's walls and the exhilaration and bittersweet feeling I felt when they finally reached that state where they, without hesitation, followed their own dreams.


Raised by a single mother, Adam Collins resolved to take no chances with a girl’s future—or his own. That’s why, as hard as it was, he resisted everything he felt for Marissa Brooks. Then one night a reckless challenge left a fellow student dead and changed both their lives forever. As penance, Adam took the boy’s place in the Marines, where he could disappear into discipline and duty, and left Marissa behind to struggle with her dreams.

Twelve years later, Adam is back in Walkers Ford to serve as the best man in his friend’s wedding. The years haven’t diminished the electric connection he has with Marissa. But Adam’s mistake continues to haunt him, and Marissa is stumbling under the weight of her family’s legacy. Together they wrestle with demons and dreams, but if there’s any hope for a future together Adam has to not only find a way to forgive himself, but also ask others for forgiveness—especially from the woman whose heart he broke.

Title: Unforgiven
Author: Anne Calhoun
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups - A slow burn is what this is. Brooding yet packs a lot of emotional punches.)