Unforgiven Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Unforgiven

Adam and Marissa are in love and help each other meet their dreams. At seventeen, Adam Collins, is a teen set on having fun. Drinking, partying at Brookhaven and racing motorcycles was his thing. Everyone wanted to be his friend and followed him everywhere. He was in love with Marissa Brooks, a descendent of Brookhaven, but never took their electric connection far.
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One night, at a party at Brookhaven, Adam and Marissa were making out in the barn loft, but he refused to take it further. He didn't want to hurt her. Frustrated, he begins drinking heavily, tearing down the paneling around the large fireplace, as well as the mantle, for a bon fire that was burning in the yard. Marissa begs him to stop, but he doesn't. Josh Wilmont, a friend of both Adam's and Marissa drove up on his new motorcycle. Adam goads him into a race which he knew Josh would not win. Racing through woods and dirt roads, Josh's tire hits a tiny pot hole and crashes, instantly killing him. Adam feels the accident is his fault, and as penance he takes Josh's place in the Marines at the end of summer.

Twelve years later, Adam returns to Walkers Ford, South Dakota, for his best friend's, Keith's wedding to his ex-fiancée, Delaney. Arriving at Brookhaven, now nearly remodeled to its original glory, for an engagement party for the two, he is surprised to learn that Marissa has done all of the renovations. Meeting up with Marissa after twelve years, he realizes that the electric current shared by them as teens, was just as strong. After sharing several shots of whiskey with Marissa, they have sex in the pantry.

Adam leaves and Marissa is not surprised they had sex. It was long overdue, but the love she felt for him as a teen, she keeps bottled up inside. She knows that he won't be staying, even though he says otherwise. Adam has plans to get an apartment and enlist in graduate school to become an architect.

The next day, Adam arrives at Brookhaven and helps Marissa remove splinters from her back from last night's sex in the pantry and they have sex again. He asks her to go apartment hunting with him the next day and she agrees. After apartment hunting, he takes her out to dinner and then back home for more sex. Turning on the bedroom light, Adam sees that her walls are filled with pictures of sailboats. There are also nautical decorations scattered throughout her room. Adam asks her about it and she explains that they were her great grandfather's. Realizing her dream is to sail around the world, but with the mortgage on Brookhaven and her struggling construction business, she knows it's not a reality.

Adam, wanting to please her, makes arrangements to take her sailing on his Marine buddy's yacht. They spend a wonderful weekend in Chicago, sailing and sightseeing. Marissa confesses her love for him while having sex in the shower. The next day, against Marissa's wishes, Adam, wanting to make her happy, purchases a three hundred dollar silk scarf and hides it in her overnight bag. Arriving home, after the nice weekend, they argue about her dreams and how she won't go for them. During the argument, she tells Adam that he should look at his own dreams and not be saddled to Walkers Ford. She demands of him, “Do you really want to be an architect?” He tells her he needs to stay here to make amends to the community for the death of Josh. Marissa said that no one cares anymore and he needs to move on.

Marissa rented out Brookhaven to Keith and Delaney for their wedding. By renting out Brookhaven, it will help pay the mortgage on the renovations. She still needed to complete the fireplace but can't bring herself to do it. It would finish her dream, and then what would she do?
Marissa finds an almost perfect replica of the original mantle in another home, which she makes arrangements to purchase. Adam begins helping her with other renovations her construction company has contracted and has also volunteered to go get the mantle with her. Adam needs to help finish the mantle, since he was the one who destroyed it in the first place. Marissa puts off finishing the mantle until three days before Keith and Delaney's wedding. After working on another construction project all day, Adam tells Marissa to sleep and he will work on the mantle. He finishes it and it looks beautiful.

As Keith's best man, Adam needs to write a speech as well as pick up all the tuxes. Keith has barely spoken to Adam or looked him in the eye since his return. Adam knows why, but he hasn't approached him about it yet. In the meantime, Marissa is wondering why Adam broke up with Delaney. Adam asked her if she wanted to know the truth, not the gossip, he would tell her. She tells him, she doesn't want to know.

Finally, the day of the wedding Adam confronts Keith on his treachery. Six months ago, Keith sent Adam a picture of Delaney in a hotel room, after having sex from an unknown e-mail address. Adam's Marine friend, a computer tech, locates the IP address back to Keith's office. Keith denies all of this, even though it is the truth. Finally, he confesses to Adam that he has loved Delaney since he was fifteen and he wanted to beat him at something. Adam, an honorable man, keeps his silence and duty as Keith's best man not to ruin Delaney's day. Adam's speech at the reception is all about love and fidelity. Once he said his speech, he leaves the wedding and grabs Marissa. They go out to the barn and have sex in the loft, as they should have the night of the accident that killed Josh. After, he tells Marissa why he and Delaney broke up. She said after his speech, she figured that out. Adam also confesses his love for her.

Adam continues his plans to stay with Marissa and rents an apartment. In the meantime, a local real estate agent comes to Brookhaven, making an offer on the property from a woman in New York. Marissa says she will discuss the offer with Adam. Adam encourages her to take the offer and buy the yacht. He refuses to go with her. He needs to stay and continue to make amends. Marissa leaves and he feels lonely. Delaney comes to his apartment to apologize for the affair she had with Keith before they broke up. Adam accepts her apology which lifts a great weight from him. He then decides to go see Mrs. Wilmont, to finally apologize for his actions the night of the accident that killed Josh. At Mrs. Wilmont's request, she asks him to tell her what happened that night. She had the police version, but she wanted his version. Adam bares his soul to her, breaking down, sobbing uncontrollably. She comforts him, accepts his apology and then tells him to do her a favor. She knew he went into the Marines because of Josh, but she wanted him to live his own life – to go out into the world and do what he wants to do. He agrees.

He heads to his mother's to tell her he will be going away for awhile and doesn't know when he will be back. He will put all of his things in storage. He pulls out his motorcycle for the first time in twelve years to find that the engine turns over immediately. His mother tells him, she and Marissa kept the motorcycle in good condition for him. Marissa, who had walked the bike over two miles to his house after the accident, felt that one day he might want to ride again.   He leaves on his motorcycle and travels across several states to meet with Marissa.

Marissa has purchased a yacht, which Adam's friend checked out for her. He arrives early in the morning and they sail off into the morning sun.
Best part of story, including ending: What I liked most about this story is the love Adam and Marissa had for one another and the talks about historically restoring the home to its original manner.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was when Adam took Marissa on a surprise weekend getaway for sailing, dining and sightseeing.

Opinion about the main character: I liked Adam very much. He was a loyal, honorable man trying to right a wrong that he did as a teenager.

The review of this Book prepared by Karenann Knotoff a Level 2 American Robin scholar

Chapter Analysis of Unforgiven

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Inner struggle subplot    -   Yes Struggle with...    -   guilt over a mistake leading to death If one lover chases another...    -   he chases after her

Main Male Character

Profession/status:    -   infantry soldier Age/status:    -   20's-30's Sex makes him    -   blissful

Main Female Character

Age/status:    -   20's-30's Profession/status:    -   small businessman Effect of sexing    -   blissful


Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   Fancy Mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment What % of story is romance related?    -   80% How explicit is the sex?    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   actual description of sex Focus of story    -   equally on him and her How much dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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