Thursday, April 1, 2021

Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
Series: The Shameless Series, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
The Intimacy Experiment cover
ISBN: 9780593101629
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Ebook Source: Publisher
Print Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

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 nominated him as one of the city's hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Low on both funds and congregants, the executive board of Ethan's new shul hired him with the hopes that his nontraditional background will attract more millennials to the faith. They've given 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.

It’s early yet but I can safely say that The Intimacy Experiment is one of my favorite books of the year. Naomi and Ethan grabbed my heart from the very first page and didn’t let go. Their story is engaging, sex-positive, tender, sensual, and totally addictive. Naomi is a former porn star turned co-CEO of Shameless, an inclusive sex education start-up. Ethan is a former physics teacher who became a rabbi of a Reform synagogue. You read both of those correctly. How could I resist seeing what Rosie Danan would do with such a pairing? She knocked me off my feet, that’s what she did.

Naomi has a tough outer shell that hides her vulnerable core. She was hurt at a pivotal age by someone she trusted and was let down in the aftermath by those who should have protected and supported her. She’s as prickly as a cactus but with a heart that cares deeply. I loved her intelligence, wicked sense of humor, her strengths and her flaws. I especially loved her commitment to inclusive sex education, sex positivity, and respect for sex workers. She’s not the kind of heroine you see in romance novels which is a shame, because if you write a character as well as Danan does Naomi then she’s someone I want to read about all day every day. As for Ethan… Be still my heart; he’s a swoon-worthy hero. Ethan’s kindness, patience, and love of learning made me smile and sigh. He’s good down to his bones and so earnest it disarms Naomi. On paper they shouldn’t work but people are so much more than the basics. Naomi and Ethan are perfect together. Their romance grabbed my heart because they become so vulnerable with each other. There’s sizzling sensuality and banter, of course, but there’s also tenderness, sweetness, and the letting down of walls. I hated to put this book down because I was so invested in Ethan and Naomi’s story.

Ethan is a rabbi whose synagogue is failing and when he meets Naomi at a teaching conference they team up to host a seminar on modern intimacy. It will give Ethan a chance to bring new members into the synagogue and it gives Naomi the lecturer experience she wants when higher ed institutions keep rejecting her. The seminar gives more to them and their local Jewish community than either could have imagined. I loved how freely they discussed all aspects of intimacy; there’s emotional honesty in every part of The Intimacy Experiment which is part of what makes the story so appealing.

I can’t talk about The Intimacy Experiment without mentioning how wonderfully done the Jewish representation is. As a Reform Jew from L.A. this story makes my heart so happy because I see in this book places and people I know. But Danan writes in such a way that no matter where you’re from or what you believe, you can connect with these characters and their journey. This book has heart and lots of it. I cannot recommend The Intimacy Experiment enough and I am chomping at the bit to read more of Rosie Danan’s work!

FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook edition of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.