Berkley / September 3, 2013 / $15.00 print / $9.99 digital
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?
In Uncommon Passion, Rachel Hill is an entirely refreshing take on the virgin heroine. Having left an oppressive religious community, she wants to make her own way in the world, and that starts with feeling everything she possibly can. At a charity bachelor auction, she takes a big chance on Ben Harris, a SWAT officer who fits the bill. This story is the best example of a woman’s self-discovery and embrace of her own sexuality with a heroine who is both innocent and fully aware, a hero who is world-weary and needs to be brought back to life, and a couple who should never work but in the end promise the hope and love we all search for.
“Wait a goddamned minute. You were a virgin and you didn’t tell me?”
“I don’t want to discuss this here,” she said, glancing around the parking lot again.
“We’re discussing it here,” he said. “How virgin?”
“There are degrees of virginity?”
Well, yeah. A friend of his dated a girl who wanted to be a virgin on her wedding night but went wild for anal and could suck the leather off a baseball. The look in Rachel’s eyes answered his question and kicked his brain into high gear.
No-strings-attached Ben doesn’t expect Rachel, and he’s intrigued enough that he wants to keep seeing her, to teach her the intricacies of sex, but he’s upfront about no entanglements. He can’t afford to feel, can’t afford to let anyone in. To her credit, Rachel knows exactly what she’s getting into. There are no predictable he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not dilemmas. In fact, it’s Rachel who becomes the most well-adjusted as their arrangement continues. As she learns all about a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, she blooms in a way she never could in her restrictive life before. She is honest and expressive and holds nothing back. In return, Ben develops a fascination towards her – something that isn’t easily defined but he can’t get enough of. And Rachel surprises him.
The cuffs were a game, a distraction, a trick.
“I don’t want you to use them on me.”
“It doesn’t haven’t to be like it was for… what you saw,” he amended. “I won’t gag you. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do, and if you want to stop, just tell me to stop.”
She nodded. “I trust you. But that’s not what I want to do today. I want to restrain you.”
Heart to full stop. He stared at her, not sure he’d heard her correctly. He bit back his automatic response of fuck, no. “Come again?”
“I’m very used to feeling helpless. I know all about being restrained, not by handcuffs or rope but by expectations. A view of the world, who I am in that world, how I’m supposed to behave. I want to feel what it’s like to be in control.”
The escalating sex scenes, which are plentiful and explicit, really show the development of Ben and Rachel’s relationship. As they delve deeper, Rachel inadvertently begins to knock the emotional chips off Ben’s shoulder. He has walls up and family issues left unresolved that, unlike Rachel, he never met head-on. She realizes there’s a part of him she can’t reach, but doesn’t force it or take more than he can give, until it’s not enough for her. She’s always in control of what she wants. In the face of such strength, without even knowing it, she begins to change the way Ben sees things. She affects him in a life-changing way, when it’s her whose scope of the world has so drastically broadened in such a short time.
As strong and real as Rachel is, Ben is an equally powerful hero. He’s damaged, he’s a player and completely unrepentant about it. Until she gets under his skin. As Ben and Rachel really come full circle, the journey and the romance come together, and it’s a fine thing to see two people heal and find themselves and each other in the process.
Learn more or order a copy of Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun, now available:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.