Title: Uncommon Passion
Author: Anne Calhoun
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Uncommon (Book 2)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 0425262901 (Berkley/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0425262900 (Berkley/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Steph
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?
Quick & Dirty: A 25-year-old virgin who’s lived a very cloistered life decides to put all that to rest by bidding on a bachelor at an auction. They decide to embark on a no strings attached sexual journey designed to show this virgin exactly what she’s been missing.
Opening Sentence: When a big black pickup truck zoomed up and parked in the fire zone in front of Silent Circle Farm’s educational center, Rachel Hill got to her feet.
To be completely honest, this really isn’t my normal type of book. While I love romance, I tend to gravitate more towards romantic suspense or paranormal romances rather than contemporary romances because I like a little action thrown in with a love story. So, I wasn’t initially very excited to read this book. For the most part, my initial feelings were justified; however, the last 10-15 percent of the book made me bump up my rating to 3 stars.
Rachel Hill is a 25-year-old virgin. She has spent the majority of her life in a religious commune where women were raised to be wives and mothers. When she began to show interest in the realm of science, her elders chastised her for behaving incorrectly. Eventually, this became too much for her to bear, and she left, leaving the world she knew behind. It’s been six months, and Rachel is now helping out on a farm, with hopes of going to vet tech school in the fall. To raise money, the farm holds a bachelor auction. It is here Rachel first sees Ben Harris. Rachel wants to start experiencing life and everything it has to offer, and she feels Ben is the perfect person to introduce her to the carnal side of life. He’s a man who doesn’t form attachments, the very definition of a “love them and leave them” kind of guy. When Ben realizes after their first night together that Rachel was a virgin, he offers to help her gain experience, no strings attached. Thus begins a relationship that will change both of them forever.
I think my biggest problem with this book is that I didn’t feel I was given the chance to really get to know the characters. From the moment Ben and Rachel meet, the reader gets very little opportunity to see either of them in their day to day lives; instead, we see them every time they meet to have sex, which really got old for me and didn’t offer much in the way of character development. What I did get to see of Rachel, I really liked. I admire how she basically uprooted her whole life in an effort to figure out who she was. It takes a very strong person to be able to do that, especially when it means your family may never speak to you again.
Ben, on the other hand, I didn’t like at all. He’s cocky, emotionally closed off, and sleeps with a different person every week. When Rachel tries to have a conversation with him to find out more about him, he completely shuts her down. He is just not a likeable character, and remains that way for a large majority of the book. The book occasionally hints at why he’s like this, but we didn’t get the full story until much too late for me to really change how I felt about him as a character.
The last 10 to 15 percent of the book really showed me how good of a book this could have been. We get more interaction with secondary characters, and both Rachel and Ben grow individually. I found myself reading faster to see how things were going to turn out. If the whole book could have been like this, my rating would have been much higher. As it is, the last portion of the book only served to bump up what would have been a 2-star rating to a 3-star one. While the end of the book showed promise, I’m really not interested in reading more in this series and most likely will not do so.
“It’s okay. Tell me why you like coming here.”
She considered this for a moment, working through answers in her head. “I like watching them,” she said. “I can tell that some of them are scared, but being brave. Some of them are so confident I’m envious. Emotion is so close to the surface here. They’ve chosen the song or the poem or whatever because it’s meaningful, so there’s that. Then there’s all the emotion that goes into going up on stage and performing. Fear, dread, anxiety, hope, pride, shame, humor, everything.”
He was silent for a moment, then said, “I don’t get it.”
People were returning to their seats carrying desserts, wedges of the café’s specialty carrot cake, crème brûlèe, or truffles. She used the increased noise and activity to cover the length of time it took to gather her thoughts.
“Everyone thinks the worst part about being at Elysian Fields was the superficial things,” she said, keeping her voice low. “Not being fashionable, or keeping my hair long, or not going to college, or not having sex. And it was bad…although I didn’t know that until later. What I did know is that any time I felt sad, or angry, or hurt, I was chastised for it. Anything but a joyous countenance is considered being disrespectful to parents or authority figures. Even a sin. Everyone assumes I left to have sex, to choose my own husband, to direct my own life. And I did. But I left because I’d been disciplined when I felt anything else. I wanted to feel. To have experiences that made me feel.”
0.5 On the Edge
FTC Advisory: Berkley/Penguin provided me with a copy of Uncommon Passion. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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