Review – Uncommon Passion (Uncommon #2) by Anne Calhoun

Uncommon Passion cover image
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley (replaced by print edition due to formatting issues)

After leaving a restrictive religious community, Rachel Hill is on a mission to divest herself of her virginity. Newly independent and struggling to establish herself, she’s not looking for anything complicated. She bids on sexy SWAT officer Ben Harris at a bachelor auction, confident he’ll give her the night of her life and nothing more.

But Ben is jaded and detached, living his life in an endless cycle of danger-fueled adrenaline jags, drinking, and sex. When he misses the fact that his bachelor auction hookup is a virgin, he’s shocked by his obliviousness, and by the risk she took. To make amends, Ben offers Rachel all he can: a no-strings-attached sexual education.
Ben’s lessons introduce Rachel to down and dirty passion, but she’s searching for something more profound than sex, and she’s willing to walk away to find it. Ben can’t get Rachel out of his head, but will he come to terms with his troubled past and learn to love?

This blurb came from the author’s website.

I was introduced to Calhoun a couple of years ago and since that introduction I have been looking for the magic I found to return. Not that the stories she told since then were bad, they just didn’t resonate for me on the same level. I was slightly worried about Uncommon Passion because of the trend of missing the magic by just a little bit. So, I was very pleased to be sucked completely into Ben and Rachel’s story. When I finished reading I wrote a quick comment about how this was the Calhoun story I had been looking for ever since I read Liberating Lacey.

Rachel was not your standard heroine. She grew up in a very sheltered, strict, restrictive almost cult-like community. With very little experience or knowledge about the outside world, she broke away and began her journey to find herself. Growing up, any sort of contact between members of the opposite sex occurred only after an arranged marriage so one of the things she wanted to experience was sex. However, she wanted sex without any strings so she had the freedom to hopefully enjoy it without worrying about the restrictions/expectations of a relationship. With that in mind at a local fundraiser she bid on a date with a man who had a reputation for skill with women and an aversion to relationships. She thought they would have a frank discussion, followed by sex, and then she could get on with building her life. The first two events went almost as she had planned but Ben decided to add a complication to the rest of her plan – no not a secret baby.

Ben was basically walking sex. He worked in a high stress job as a SWAT member who managed that stress through drinking and sex. While he didn’t want any emotional entanglements, he did make sure that his sexual partners enjoyed themselves. However, he wasn’t completely self-centered and when he found out that not only had he been drunk but Rachel had been a virgin, he insisted on making amends. His idea of making amends included not only showing Rachel what her first experience should have been like but also broadening her horizons to a variety of different methods to give and receive sexual pleasure. They agreed to meet once a week for a few hours but there was no discussion of transitioning to a relationship.

Yet, with each successive planned or random encounter they started to learn more about each other beyond the physical. Ben found himself wanting to do and actually doing “date-like” things with Rachel. Rachel found herself relaxing and enjoying Ben’s company for more than the physical pleasure. Their growing awareness did not occur smoothly or without cost. Rachel found herself second-guessing her words and actions as she tried to make sure she wasn’t hinting at expectations beyond their agreement. At times Ben would deliberately say or do something that would have driven away most women who did not have Rachel’s background just to emphasize that what they had was NOT a relationship. When she failed to react the way he expected, he would remember that she meant exactly what she said and didn’t play games. They managed to get past most of those bumps but the time came when Ben finally managed to cross the line. I absolutely loved how Rachel made him see the light.

I loved their interaction and journey. Calhoun certainly has a skill in writing extremely hot sexy-times and Uncommon Passion had its fair share. In addition to Rachel learning about sex both, Rachel and Ben went through an emotional journey. Rachel continued to learn to stand up for herself, how to feel, acknowledge and express her feelings, and yet retain a sense of innocence free from calculation. Ben learned there was a lot more to life than adrenaline, sex, and alcohol as he dropped the walls between his emotions and the rest of the world. They both discovered what it meant to have friends who would encourage, stand up for or to each other when needed. Rachel’s transformation was more obvious than Ben’s but Ben’s growth was equally as important.

Calhoun sucked me into Rachel and Ben’s life from the opening pages and I don’t remember coming up to breathe. As I said in the beginning of this review, in Uncommon Passion I think Calhoun has returned to what I found so magical when I first started reading her. I really hope she is able to continue to provide that something special in future books. This is one that will be staying on my keeper shelf.
I give Uncommon Passion an A+

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Comments

  1. JTReader says

    I’m totally with you on this one. Since Liberating Lacey, her books have been mostly misses for me even though I admire her writing, but I really liked Uncommon Passion.

    ReplyReply

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