Review: Anne Calhoun’s THE LIST

There was this store in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood called Flourish. It sold paper goods, specifically note cards and stationary of all kinds. Everything from your standard Crane & Company to Kate Spade to the little artisan imprints no one’s ever heard of. For a while, I had a pretty decent stockpile of simple, pretty note cards – I used them for thank you notes for presents and after job interviews. Sadly, Flourish closed several years ago, and I’ve yet to find a decent replacement shop.

I think I’d like Tilda Davies’ store.

Tilda runs a high end stationary store in New York’s West Village. The British ex-pat also runs a sort of pro bono matchmaking service – she matches people with like needs, or as she thinks of it, introduces them to one another. The bond they develop is up to them. When Daniel, an FBI agent with the white collar crimes division, meets her at a mutual friend’s party, he’s instantly smitten. The story of their whirlwind romance unfolds over the course of a year, from Summer Solstice to Summer Solstice, beginning with Tilda asking Daniel for a divorce, rewinding back to that first meeting, where he tried to talk her off a ledge.

Tilda’s always been afraid to go after what she truly wants, certain she doesn’t deserve it. But Daniel’s not about to give her up.

No one writes emotional sex quite like Calhoun. It’s hot and sticky, both physically and emotionally, and the way the characters use it as a form of communication is one of the best parts of the story. And no, I’m not just saying that because hey, we skip ahead to the sex scenes. Anyone who’s read one of Calhoun’s previous books would agree – she gets it, what sex is to a couple. It’s their way of blowing off steam, of apologizing, of sharing love and joy. What they can’t, or won’t, express in words is done with their bodies.

I’ve always had an easier time identifying with her heroes, and Daniel was no different. Of the pair, he’s more open, willing to be surprised, willing to make adjustments, and he never, ever wavers in his conviction that Tilda is the one for him. He’s got his own demons to fight, and with Tilda, he’s got a particularly aggravating puzzle to solve. He’s a refreshing change in a genre overrun with domineering alphaholes. Daniel knows what he wants, and he’ll fight to get it, but he’s not going to be a dick about it.

I’ve had issues warming up to some of her heroines in the past, but with Tilda, I never really got there. It’s not that Tilda’s cold; she is, she’s got that British reserve going on. It was more that, because of her aloofness, I never believed her feelings for Daniel, or anyone, really, were real. Tilda comes off as remote, even when she’s smiling and showing genuine interest in the person she’s with. There wasn’t as much to her as there was to Daniel – like if he’s a painting done in full color, Tilda’s still waiting for that first stroke of a brush. The bones are there, but too much is missing.

Anne Calhoun still remains on the auto-buy list for me, though. I always wonder what she’s going to do next, and I can’t wait to read The Muse, out later this year.

Copy of The List provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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