The Intimacy Experiment
by Rosie Danan
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book #2 in the Shameless series
Number of Pages: 332
Ages 15 and up
CW: grief, death of parent,
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 love that this story is about a former porn star who now runs an explicit intimacy company and a rabbi. First, we do not get enough Jewish representation in Romance. Second, we do not get enough positive representation of sex workers in Romance (although this genre is MUCH more accepting than others). Pairing these two under-represented groups had me intrigued.
I absolutely loved this author’s debut, The Roommate. In fact, that is why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I just didn’t know if it could live up to my expectations. In some ways it did, and in others, it didn’t.
Naomi came on the scene in that previous book. She was the ex-girlfriend, co-worker, and friend that I loved to hate, and eventually came to love. I was rooting for her to get her own story and a HEA herself. She’s just as tough and proud in this story, but that marshmallow inside is shown much more. Naomi might be tough, but once you’re let into her circle she loves hard and protects even harder. We should all try to be more like Naomi, without the chip on the shoulder part.
Sparks fly between Naomi and Ethan, the rabbi who asks her to do a lecture series at his synagogue to help his membership. I enjoyed their chemistry, but wish it wouldn’t have taken so long for them to give in to that pull. Part of me understands, but the romance reader in me wanted a little more giving into those desires earlier in the book than it happened.
As much as it’s obvious what will tear these two apart, it was beautiful to read it play out. Both the rending and the sewing back up. Naomi broke my heart with her stoicism. No, she doesn’t need another person to make her whole. But it was sure nice to have someone else to lean on for a while. The same can be said for Ethan, who plays the martyr a bit here. He has good intentions for his synagogue members and is just trying to do what he thinks others think is right.
Although this story didn’t quite live up to what I wanted, it was still immensely enjoyable and I would still recommend it to any romance reader.
What a great review! I remember loving this book.