Penguin / March 3, 2015 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital
Matchmaker and stationery shop owner Matilda Davies brings people together. For those on her list, Tilda will find the man or woman of their dreams—whether it’s for an hour or a lifetime. But due to a painful past, the British expat has never put her own name on the list. Instead, she limits herself to emotionless and commitment-free hookups. Then she meets Daniel, who wants not just her body, but also her heart…
Daniel Logan hides the soul of a poet under the suit and tie of an FBI agent. Specializing in financial crimes, he pieces together stories of greed and ensures justice is done. He plays by the rules—until he meets Tilda. He’s drawn in by her passion as well as her mysteriousness. Daniel knows that no matter her secrets, he’s the perfect match for Tilda. But even pleasure doesn’t come with a guarantee…
Let me start by saying that it was less than a year ago that I read my first Anne Calhoun book. I know. What rock have I been under? But I’m happy to say that The List is my fourth Calhoun read in said year, so that should tell you something of how I feel about her books. Two things are certain when you dive in to one of her novels. First, this is erotic romance, people, and her books deliver. But what I find just as appealing as the erotic is the emotion her characters exhibit and the way Calhoun’s exquisite attention to detail conveys the emotional turmoil necessary for her characters to experience before they can grow, and of course, The List does just that.
“Words mattered to Tilda; she chose them carefully.”
This is Daniel’s assessment of one part of the woman he loves, but it pretty much pinpoints the mystery of her as well. Everything about Tilda Davies is chosen carefully. She’s a discreet matchmaker and shrewd business woman. Her high end stationary shop caters to a high end crowd, and Tilda plays the part of high end with her societal connections. Classically dressed yet never overstated, Tilda is the picture of accomplished at the ripe old age of twenty eight.
“Impossibly, unapologetically, effortlessly stylish, his wife. At West Village Stationary she sold exclusive, handmade paper, couture stationary, invitations embossed or engraved. By twenty-eight she had established herself as the trend-setting expert for millennials fascinated by the art of pen and ink.”
But therein lies the problem for Daniel Logan and readers as well—figuring Tilda and her mysteries out. The book opens on the summer solstice, a year after Daniel and Tilda first met, with Tilda asking for a divorce and Daniel not knowing why.
“He’d built his reputation as a cop, FBI agent, and a man on taking puzzles apart, piece by piece, datum by datum, and reassembling them so they made sense. But when it came to his marriage, he’d missed something big, something bone-deep, something life changing about Tilda Davies.”
While the book is as much Tilda’s as Daniel’s, readers getting to see both perspectives, for me I connected most with Daniel’s journey on putting the puzzle pieces together. From the moment we meet him, it’s impossible not to fall hard, which is why it’s easy to see how he shakes up Tilda’s carefully constructed world.
“It was better, more powerful, more erotic, to have him bare inside her, a risk she’d allowed with no other man, and suddenly craved with Daniel.”
How’s that for shaking things up? And it’s not hard to see why Daniel is able to do this.
He’s an FBI agent. Hot.
He’s a distance runner. Hot.
He’s a family man (love the scenes when he goes back home). Hot.
And when Tilda turns him down after he sends her a letter asking her to dinner, he sexts her with some absolutely superb dirty talk. Omg, Hot.
The sex is what brings Daniel and Tilda together. We see this as he the story backtracks through their meeting and what brought them to Tilda wanting a divorce. But it’s the emotion that lies behind the physical intimacy that drives the story forward. When Daniel’s sister tries to figure out the puzzle of her brother, of what would make him elope with a woman like Tilda, his response is everything.
“Angie only wanted what was best for him. The problem was that sometimes the things that were best for you weren’t the things that made you feel complete. When he was with Tilda, he felt whole.
‘I love her.’ Three words, single syllables. They should say everything he needed to say and yet to someone on the outside they were meaningless.”
Everything, right? That’s Daniel, from beginning to end, unwavering in his beliefs. He’s as vulnerable as he is sexy, as poetic as he is intelligent. It’s Tilda we need to unravel, to see beyond her façade, to what she doesn’t want Daniel to know. A Brit living in New York, with no family nearby and not one photo of a loved one in her townhome, she has done everything she can to wipe away traces of her life before she came to the states. But as bits and pieces of that life seep into the present—allowing Daniel a glimpse at the woman he knows he’ll love no matter what—we learn what made Tilda the careful woman she is today. Anne Calhoun takes us there, on an emotional, erotic journey with her gorgeous words as we watch a whirlwind romance crumble as quickly as it began—hoping that Daniel can connect the dots in time to save what he’s not willing to give up—Tilda.
But wait. I lied. The last line of this book? That is everything.
Learn more about or order a copy of The List by Anne Calhoun, available March 3, 2015:
Amy Pine (writing as AJ Pine) is the author of the New Adult pair, IF ONLY (out now with Entangled Embrace) and WHAT IF? (out soon with Entangled Embrace) as well as ONE NIGHT and ONE LIFE, another NA duo out in 2015 from Intermix/Penguin.