by Anne Calhoun
(Sensation, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0425-26502-4
Here is an edgy, erotic story of two people who have to fight their demons to find their true love. It is one of the better books I have read this year.

Adam Collins is finally returning home to Walker’s Ford, North Dakota after twelve years in the Marines.He joined after one night of revelry gone wrong and has been battling the demons of a teenaged mistake ever since. He fought with his girl, got drunk, vandalized a home and then egged a new driver into a motorcycle race. Josh died and Adam’s life was forever changed. Marissa Brooks was the girlfriend. She and Adam were passionately in love but neither understand the depth or the passion. While they did everything but make love, their relationship was too intense for their teenaged minds to fully understand.

Adam came home at times, but never connected to Marissa. Instead he dated and decided to marry a friend from high school, Delaney Walker. But during his last tour of duty, he suddenly broke off their engagement. Now eight months later, he is coming back home for Delaney’s wedding to his best friend Kevin. Filled with the discipline and the unemotionalism that he learned in the Marine Corp. Adam is determined to fix things he left when he departed twelve years ago.

Marissa loved Adam and in many ways she too had her life changed the day Adam joined the military. For the last twelve years, Marissa has been fulfilling a dream of restoring her family’s home. Brookhaven was the run down estate that was vandalized that long ago night. Marissa worked hard to buy it back from the bank, and has it almost restored to its former glory. To do that she married a guy who knew construction, and while she didn’t love Chris – they were happy together before his untimely and sudden death. Marissa has a reputation around town of swapping sex for knowledge or materials – a reputation that is only partially deserved. But she never got over Adam.

Now he is back, determined to go back to school to get a degree in architecture with a sense of staying to give back to the Walker’s Ford community to make up for that night. Marissa is there and her pull on him is stronger than ever. This is a story of their journey to find each other amidst the broken promises of their youth, the deceptions of their relationship and the many dreams that they both have. It is filled with sexy romps, soul-searching and figuring out how to live the present while they ask for forgiveness for the past.

At times, their emotions are deep and their interactions are painful in their honesty. At times, they resort to interacting only on the surface, until one of themcalls their bluff and their vulnerability is exposed. Anne Calhoun is an author who can cut to the meat of a story and help the reader feel the angst and the sadness while at other times, enjoy the highs of reaching for a dream.

Unforgiven starts off with a sexy superficial interlude in a pantry and ends with a sexy romp filled with love in a sailboat. In between is more than the traditional erotic story – in between is a study of two people dealing with tragedy and finding their way to their soul mate.

--Shirley Lyons

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