Reviewed by Jenny and Gitte
Jenny & Gitte: 4 Stars
Gitte: It all started with a mistake. A mistake with dire consequences causing ultimate tragedy. A tragedy inflicted by an innocent and unintentional hand. How long should a person be punished for an unpremeditated mistake for which they too have suffered greatly and lost? How do you measure, value and embrace forgiveness? How is it truly possible to say ‘I forgive but I can’t forget’? By not forgetting, how can you truly forgive? What is the true definition of forgiveness and how do we show it? How much pain and self-loathing can you hold within, without it affecting those around you? Can you truly love someone if you don’t love yourself?
‘This was her hell. Being trapped in a room with a reminder of who she used to be, a reminder of everything she lost, a reminder of everything she’d destroyed.’ – Bailey
Unforgiven threw so many questions at me and it really made me think hard on what I would’ve thought and done had I been in this situation. Though, really, we can only ever speculate and like to think we’d act a certain way. As always, with most things, unless you’ve been through it, lived it or experienced it how can you truly know?
We join Bailey and Darren in the present and I was instantly grabbed by the mystery and intrigue of how their story came to be, because it was pretty full on as we travelled into the past to understand the present hearing both voices. We were hooked weren’t we Jenny, knowing something truly awful must have happened but not what?!
Jenny: We were certainly hooked G and dying to discover what had transpired to elicit such strong feelings of hatred from Darren towards Bailey. The forgiveness in Unforgiven is a bit of a double edged sword isn’t it. So much hurt and pain in this story and as much as I had an idea of what had occurred, it didn’t lessen the impact any when it was revealed and the sheer magnitude of how many lives would be affected was heart breaking.
“I never wanted to hate you. Not ever. You did this.” – Darren
By hearing from both Darren and Bailey, the emotion was intensified as we followed the toxic relationship between these two damaged people, being completely drawn into their story and finding out what brought them to this moment. Finding out why being together is as equally painful as being apart.
Gitte: I have to say I found Bailey’s story really emotional. Did I cry, no….and I cry a lot don’t I Jenny, as do you might I add! If I could’ve cried it would most probably have been out of frustration. Now, I loved Bailey despite everything, yes the tragedy was horrific. BUT…..it wasn’t planned, keys were thrust in her hands, a distraction in a split second and there we go. She was rightly punished and complied accordingly.
‘That was lesson number one she learned: your punishment is a far reaching thing that destroys more lives than just your own.’ – Bailey
At the end of the day and all things considered, she paid two-fold and had to live with herself and the knowledge of ‘why and what’ happened. She’s such a brave girl, you could even call her ‘fighting strong’ and my heart bled for her. How many times, and how morally right is it to be continually punished for one mistake? She tried to appease, to explain and to repent. She put up with the most vicious and horrific behaviour and actions, thinking she deserved it. She loved with her whole heart and she gave everything to the man she loved, putting up with whatever he threw at her. It broke my heart yet it also frustrated the hell out of me. Mostly, because I forgave her. What did you think of Bailey, Jenny?
‘There was no doubt in her mind he wanted her in tears in front of him.’ – Bailey
Jenny: I have to agree G. My heart went out to Bailey. Seriously, how much did this woman have to endure? I found the treatment of Bailey to be soul destroying. As you said, this Bailey had more than atoned her sins, yet the fact that she felt as if she had to be continually punished was so sad.
‘Could she live like this for the rest of her life? Taunted and haunted, always running into her ghosts? She wanted to run away, be she couldn’t. – Bailey
Bailey not only carried around her own guilt but had to contend with being ostracized by those around her. While Bailey did have to take responsibility, not once did I feel that that responsibility should not have been shared with Darren. Bailey had her life completely shaken up and not only that, she had to contend with the knowledge that the man she had loved for most of her life maintained a bitterness and hatred for her that she felt deeply.
“I hate you. I really and truly hate you.” “But…..I still….Stay…….” – Darren
That’s a hell of a lot for one person to bear and I felt so much compassion for Bailey. I tried to reason that Darren’s actions were possibly the result of him projecting his own guilt on Bailey, but I don’t believe it was and I had a really hard time connecting with Darren because of this.
‘He was the most beautiful man she’d ever known and likely ever would. Be he was toxic.’ – Bailey
In fact, I rather disliked him and found him to be cruel at times. Don’t get me wrong, I completely felt his anguish and his conflicting emotions but it saddened me to witness Bailey accepting Darren’s behaviour no matter how belittling and cruel it could be. Bailey was completely lost and I understood that, but I too became a little frustrated with her also Gitte as I felt she took on too much blame for something she alone should not have taken responsibility for.
“I couldn’t ever hate you.” “You should. It would be easier on us both.” – Darren
At the end of the day what I truly wanted was for Bailey to be happy. Her sadness overwhelmed me and my heart broke for her but like you I wasn’t reduced to tears in Unforgiven. It did consume me but I surmise the reason for the dry eyes was because of Darren and my feelings towards him. He just made me so angry at times, and although I understood his bitterness, it broke my heart to see Bailey continue to bear the brunt of his anguish.
Gitte: Darren’s story was heart-breaking too, this guy’s in pain from self-induced torment! He lives with agonising guilt as well as a devastating loss from which he’s never recovered. The loss is a dual loss I suppose. when all’s said and done. He’s emotionally broken and the wall he builds separates himself from his own humanity and morality making him a mean and nasty bastard. I couldn’t stand him through most of this book. Don’t get me wrong. I understood why he was broken, but someone inherently good can’t be that nasty and put someone he supposedly loves and can’t live without through so much shit without stopping. Somewhere your conscience would surely override your actions.
“I want…I want so much to hate you. Do you know what that’s like? Do you have any idea what it’s like to see you, smell you, be near you again, feel your skin? Can you imagine what it is to hate someone so much, and yet….You destroyed everything.” – Darren
At times my thinking went along the same lines as his and I understood why and I sympathised. Then he’d go and literally treat Bailey like a piece of poo on his shoe which she’d willingly let him do and I wanted to hit him with my kindle. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate, well I was led to believe that they were one and the same here so the relationship came across completely toxic to me. No good could surely come of this. Did Darren redeem himself…..hmmm I’m still not sure. Because, once we got through the arduous journey to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view, we were hurled off when that last page was immediately turned.
“Convince me not to hate you because…because hating you is the end of me.” – Darren
Reading back over my thoughts I have to say this Author sure knows how to write. My emotions were all over the place and I just couldn’t put this book down. The concept, the characters and the writing was brilliant on the whole. Sure, I had problems with Darren, I feel his character was taken too far, and there were certain scenes that had me gagging (I will never look at oral hygiene in the same way again) BUT….I perversely loved this story despite everything, because my emotions were honest and extreme and I LOVED that about Unforgiven. I mean how do you live if your breath depends upon another’s?
“Why can’t I stay away from you?” – Darren
How did you feel about Unforgiven Jenny?
Jenny: My feelings were all over the shop with this one and it certainly tested me, that’s for sure. You really did experience the deep connection between Bailey and Darren and Unforgiven was one intense, passionate, painful, powerful, emotional and evocative ride that teetered the fine line between love and hate. Unforgiven will frustrate you, it will torture you and it will break your heart and I’m sure that like Gitte and I, you will find it a compelling reading experience. The author certainly took us on a spill with this one!
‘This was what she wanted. This was what she always wanted. She trusted his touch, his force, his power, his intent, his everything. This was what she always wanted.’ – Bailey
Arc supplied by author in exchange for an honest review
Check out and purchase Unforgiven here