Every few years, I reread Anne Calhoun’s Uncommon Passion. I read it for the hero’s powerful redemptive arc, for the way Calhoun shows us her characters’ interior lives–she is a master of the show don’t tell–and for the hard fought and wonderfully believable HEA Ben and Rachel create for themselves. I also read it for the sex. It is the erotic romance I find the most erotic–every sex scene is beyond hot and described in way that makes my senses sizzle.

Take this scene–it’s from the second time the two have sex. And it’s worth noting that all they’re doing is having sex–this is not, yet, for them, about intimacy or emotion. It’s just about pleasure.

He went to work on the buttons of her blouse, his touch very matter-of-fact, and in a few moments the shirt hung open, revealing her basic beige cotton bra. One dark brow lifted, and she nodded, not trusting herself to speak. He reached behind her, unhooked the fastener, and in seconds she was bare from the waistband of her cotton skirt to her hair. Then he unfastened her braid, first tugging the elastic from the end, then working the sections loose to send it tumbling around her shoulders. Her hair, as long and thick and straight as a horse’s tail, slid forward into her face, sheltering her a little. Based on the way his shaft flexed against her, he liked the peek-a-boo game it played with her breasts. Heat flickered to life between her legs, and she shifted.

Call-and-response, her body to his and back again. Layers upon layers of pleasure and sensation.

He wove his fingers through her hair so the ends protruded like the bristles of a brush. Then, his gaze locked with hers, he stroked the soft undercurve of her breast, the touch gentle, slow, his rough knuckles a hard counterpoint to each caress. Her mouth went dry and her nipple hardened. He wrapped more hair around his other hand and did the same thing to her other breast until her eyes drooped, then closed, and her breathing shallowed.

Crickets chirped, the leaves rustled in the trees, and what little water flowed through the brook burbled under the breeze as her attention slowly focused to the strokestrokestroke of her own hair on her flesh. Molten heat coursed along newly awakened nerves, then pooled in places she didn’t know could hold such desire.

His hands cupped her breasts, not nearly as shocking with her skin already sensitized, her body growing hot, needy. But when his thumbs slowly brushed her nipples, back and forth, back and forth, her head dropped forward, sending her hair into her face.

“Talk to me,” he said.

She tipped forward and rested her open mouth on Ben’s. His tongue flickered out, caressing her lower lip, then dipped inside to touch hers before retreating again. “It’s good,” she breathed. “So good.”

His lips moved under hers. “Yeah,” he said. The word came out knowing, confident, masculine.

His palms cupped her knees, then slid up her thighs and under her skirt to grip her bottom. A few moments of shifting and he lay back on the bench seat with Rachel draped against him. The precarious position rolled her nearly full length against his body from chest to knees, her bare breasts to his exposed torso. He cupped the back of her head with one hand and held her mouth to his for kiss after hot, wet kiss. She flattened her palm against his abdomen. Hot, damp skin stretched over shifting muscle. 

Whoa.

In many books, I need to know there’s an emotional connection between the two leads in order to find sex sexy. Not so here–it is in no small part the fact that the two are so firmly grounded in their bodies and not their hearts and minds that makes this connection shimmer with heat. Calhoun is justifiably famous for her sex scenes–Liberating Lacey is a classic for damn good reasons. When she quit writing romance, we lost one of the greats.

What do you find exceptionally erotic in your reading? What book(s) have the greatest sex/love scenes?

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