Book Review: Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun
Author: Anne Calhoun
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Source: From publisher via NetGalley
Buy it here: Amazon | Book Depository
For more information visit Anne Calhoun’s website
Review by: Ronnie
I’ve been reading a lot more contemporary romance as of late, and I routinely hear Anne Calhoun’s name mentioned as an author that writes solid stories with erotic love scenes. Uncommon Passion follows in this particular vein as it uses several familiar romance tropes and has vivid and complex characters that made for a stellar and (sometimes) uncomfortable read.
Rachel Harris is an unassuming woman that’s recently relocated from an extremely religious community known as Elysian Fields to a farm called the Silent Circle. When Rachel meets Swat Officer Ben Harris at an auction, she makes the decision to bid on him and plans on having him free her of her virginity as well. As calculated as this appears, Rachel is vastly inexperienced when it comes to men and intimacy. Cynical and sexy Ben Harris is agreeable to Rachel’s plans, and Rachel experiences what she was after when she bid on him. The pivotal scene between Ben and Rachel was written in such a realistic way, it was almost disheartening. He’s tired, but he doesn’t want to let her down… but she’s eager to proceed and makes it impossible for Ben to refuse. There is no magical coming together and he’s exhausted enough not to put two and two together until he sees the evidence of their night together. He makes the decision to track her down and offers the opportunity for them to have sex without any long term commitments – and Rachel agrees to this plan.
I have to say, I did not enjoy Ben’s character in the slightest. He enjoys the adrenaline rush he gets from taking down criminals, and he’s not above using his status as a police officer to enjoy the attention he receives from women. He’s written like a lot of men I’ve encountered. Not violent towards women, but rather selfish and bent on his own pleasure. He’s proud of the job he does well, but it’s made him cynical and there’s no effort on his part to improve or better himself (well, until the bitter end – but that’s another beef I have with this story). There is some pain in his past regarding his family, but he mostly manages to keep them at a distance and even knowing this as I was reading, I was unable to excuse his dickish behavior towards Rachel, his family, and other coworkers.
Rachel, on the other hand, made the entire book worth reading. And then some.She’s smart and so incredibly self-aware and watching her interact and refute Ben was a joy to read. She has a strong sense of self-worth while Ben does not. She accepts the fact that she will have to walk away from Ben in order to receive the life and love that she deserves and she’s perfectly willing to do this. She doesn’t try to beg or bargain with Ben to be let in. By contrast, Ben keeps trying to compare her to the other women he’s known and always ends up falling short because Rachel, quite simply, isn’t like the women he usually prefers.
The ending is what made me take this from a 5 to a 4. It came within the last 10% of the book and was very abrupt. From Ben to go from jackass to a better man was not a transition I ever fully believed in. He acts like a dick for just about the entire book..and this enlightenment comes on the heels of a discussion and a bout of fisticuffs with his brother, Sam. It just didn’t match the rest of the book, but aside from the rushed ending, this book was a treat to read. I’d recommend it to anyone that likes contemporary romance with complexity and heart.