UNFORGIVEN Anne Calhoun
Berkley Sensation
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-26502-4
June 2013
Contemporary Romance

Walker's Ford, South Dakota Present Day

Twelve years ago Adam Collins left his hometown after he blamed himself for a terrible accident that killed a friend.  Adam's idea of penance was to join the Marines, and now he has multiple deployments under his belt.  Finally, he returns to Walker's Ford, not necessarily because he found the courage to come back, but because he's the best man in his friend Keith's wedding to Delaney, Adam's former fiancée.  Adam is not sorry he lost Delaney; he's just bitter about having to come back to Walker's Ford and face his past.

Marissa Brooks now owns her historic family home, Brookhaven, after years of trying to get it back after the family lost it through bad investments.  She loves the house more than anything, but it is in a sad state of disrepair.  Even so, Marissa has done enough work to offer the venue to Keith and Delaney for their wedding.  Tonight, the entire town is here for the pre-wedding party. 

Marissa hasn't seen Adam Collins in twelve years, and during that time she's been married, then widowed, then started working in her husband's construction trade.  The chemistry between them is white hot, and barely twenty minutes after they meet for the first time in over a decade, they're having sex in the pantry with their guests mere steps outside the locked door.  As teenagers, they couldn't keep their hands off each other; is tonight the start of a new relationship for them?

UNFORGIVEN is well written, but I found it hard to identify with Adam and Marissa and the lack of romance.  Sex is not romance.  Secondly, I realize that certain words have become commonplace in this day and age, but it is offensive to hear guttural language, let alone read it.  That said, UNFORGIVEN is an apt name for this novel, as Adam and Marissa are constantly at odds over Marissa's sexual past and Adam's future plans. Years ago, they weren't a couple, but still they had a history with lots of hot and heavy make-out sessions inside nearly every room of the empty Brookside mansion.  Marissa was, in part, one of the reasons Adam left town.  He had to put space between them before she ended up pregnant and both their lives were ruined. But what really drove him away was the death of their friend, Josh, for which Adam still blames himself.  As for their future plans, Adam and Marissa follow different paths which do not include each other.  Adam returned to Walker's Ford to finish college and get his architectural degree, and Marissa's sole mission in life is rebuilding Brookhaven, even though she secretly dreams of trying her hand at sailing and floating around the world.

The secondary characters in UNFORGIVEN are engaging.  Adam and Marissa are center stage, but not really focused in their goals.  The writing is well done.  Readers who don't mind lots of sex with a healthy dose of angst rather than romance will enjoy the story.

Diana Risso