Book Review

The Intimacy Experiment

The Intimacy Experiment

  • Author: Rosie Danan
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2021 
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • Series: The Roommate #2

CONTENT WARNING: mention of death of a parent, antisemitism, misogyny

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this story, and then all of the amazing reviews started flowing and my library hold couldn’t arrive soon enough. The story did NOT disappoint at all. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrators did a great job of bringing this story to life.

Rosie Danan’s strength is hands down her ability to create realistic, complex, multi-faceted characters that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. Naomi is a strong, confident, bisexual woman who has goals and isn’t about to let anything stop her from achieving them. In her efforts to expand her start-up platform into face-to-face lectures, she comes up against an obstacle. People don’t want to give her a chance. Because of her career choice in the past, and doing what was right for her at the time. As tough as Naomi was, there was a soft interior that she kept hidden for fear of getting hurt. 

“‘Sex work let me save myself. Let me regain my power.’”

Ethan was a great counterbalance to Naomi — he embodies what Judaism should be. Gentle, patient, empathetic, and nonjudgmental. And when he gives Naomi a chance to show off her live lecturing skills, he won my heart over. But it didn’t stop there. He continued to win over my heart throughout the book with a million little things that he did. Melting her tough exterior, sticking up for her, and gently guiding her to make the decisions that felt right to her all won him so many brownie points in my book. Brownie points? I mean, kugel points. Haha! 

“‘If I can’t make Judaism relevant, if its practice can’t accommodate what intimacy looks like today, what’s left of my congregation is going to get rid of me well before I show them what I’m capable of.’”

Judaism is a major aspect of the story, just like it is for the lives of so many people. If you aren’t aware, it’s so much more than a religion. Of course it’s a system of religious beliefs, but it’s also a culture, and a whole way of life. I loved how the author managed to weave Jewish ideas, prayers, beliefs, and practices into Ethan’s everyday life without him ever sounding preachy or overbearing. He simply comes across as a man trying to be the best and most accepting version of himself that he can be, and keeping his congregation alive.

“‘If you’re not coming to me, I have to come to you. And since enough of you seem to care about dating, and intimacy is a core value in our faith, here we are, gathered to learn, to connect, to hopefully, if Naomi does her job,’ he gave her a cheerful nod, ‘enrich our lives.’”

The chemistry between Naomi and Ethan was great. I loved how it developed naturally and was so organic. I loved seeing them connect emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And as expected, the spicy scenes were super hot! Everything about this book was amazing, and I especially appreciated how it also carried a strong message of sex-positivity and self-acceptance. This is one that I’d recommend to any and everyone! 

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