Reading all the reviews online I wasn't sure, if I even wanted to try out Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun, as the hero wasn't portrayed to be the nicest person around the corner and I have little tolerance for jerks. Funnily, as it turned out I was able to connect more with Ben than the heroine who is probably one of the strangest of her kind I have ever read about in a romance novel.
After having grown up in a very religious and strict community, Rachel Hill decided to run away from home to discover "out there in the wild world" who she really was. One item on her list is getting rid of her virginity without the emotional entanglement and pity most men would probably feel because of her past. She decides that Ben is the right choice for this task and pays 2000$ for him during a charity bachelor auction.
What follows are rounds and lessons in sex while slowly Ben's stoic and detached behaviour he uses to shield his heart from more hurt starts to crumble.
Ben isn't what I would call a nice person, but there is some ingrained decency in him which is constantly shown as the story progresses. At the age of sixteen he learned to shut down his heart when his gay twin brother left home because of their homophobic father. During the story I get more insight into Ben's motivations and feelings than Rachel's. In a way she is one of the coldest and most perfect heroine's I have encountered in a book. Yes, leaving her home was hurtful, but she always appears so damn composed. While I absolutely love her straight and forward behaviour and the lack of coyness, she has absolutely no flaws. Growing up in the surrounding she has, it was forbidden to show any emotions but happiness. During the story I get a few hints that she is capable of other feelings, but they are so few and far in between. I wanted to shake her to please show some emotions that would make her more human. She doesn't cry, she doesn't show anger, there's apparently no hurt in her, no exuberant joy. And frankly, trying just now to put my thoughts into words, I realise how boring she was in her demeanour. A good book is all about character growth, and I think Rachel would have earned the right to show some real explosions of feelings.
I guess that my problems with Rachel are the reasons why I didn't find the explicit sex scenes all that scorching. I felt distanced from them and they often read more like a clinical description than a hot encounter. Rachel and Ben's relationship really does progress with the sex scenes and the author could have used those encounters to show the love growing between them, but as soon as they have finished they jump apart and get clothed. I didn't except an hour long cuddling, but a slight caress here and there would have made the growing love more realistic. I am deeply disappointed with this story because there was so much potential to it. D+ (the + for the ending which was done in a lovely way).