Date Started: 11th March 2021
Date Finished: 18th March 2021
Days Taken to Read: 8 days
eARC received from the publisher (Piatkus – Little, Brown Book Group UK) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan is released today (Tuesday 6th April 2021), and available from a wide variety of book selling platforms. (Please note, the cover used in the above banner is the US cover rather than the UK cover).
I recently read The Roommate by Rosie Danan, a romance story about a New York socialite and Californian porn star who unintentionally end up living together and (surprise, surprise), starting to fall for each other. The characters were enjoyable, the romance had me invested and I fell somewhat in adoration of secondary character Naomi Grant. Overall, I gave The Roommate 3.5 stars, but when I saw on Netgalley there was going to be a sequel/companion focused on Naomi Grant – I pressed that request button incredibly quickly and was delighted when I was granted access to an eARC.
The Intimacy Experiment follows Naomi Grant, porn star turned business woman as she tries to broaden her career opportunities into lecturing. However, her previous job (and continued work in the industry to advocate the sex positive business venture she had been supporting with), means continued denied requests and limited chances. That is until a chance encounter with a young, attractive Rabbi called Ethan Cohen. Ethan is trying to increase the appeal of his synagogue, so when he meets Naomi at a conference, he persuades her to consider a lecture series on modern intimacy.
Firstly, this is a companion novel/sequel – I think you could read and enjoy the majority of this story without having read the first, but I would recommend reading the first. A lot of this story takes place in new settings and new characters are introduced, but some of Naomi’s background and secondary character interactions are with central characters from the first story. So I imagine that would make more sense having read the first.
I did enjoy The Intimacy Experiment more than the previous title – this may be because the author’s writing felt more confident. For me personally, I think it is the main characters. Romance stories typically rely on you rooting for and investing in a couple, and whilst I did have that with the characters in the first book – there were a number of occasions where they frustrated me. Naomi and Ethan however, I was fully cheerleading every step of the way.
Naomi is a bold, confident woman who knows what she wants and how to achieve it. She givens off a sense of power and drive to smash through all the glass ceilings. Yet, we also get to see her vulnerabilities. Walls she has had to build as someone who worked in the sexualised world of porn and the realities of that. It made her feel incredibly believable even though both characters are written from a 3rd person perspective, but I felt as though at times I had the insight as if the novel had been written in first person.
Ethan has many mirroring qualities of Naomi. We delve into his care-free existence before a specific life event caused him to review his world perspective and decide to become more involved with his faith. Ultimately becoming the Rabbi we see in this story. Ethan is given a warmth and charm that work very well alongside some of his more typically masculine qualities to enamour a reader with a male love interest.
I also found it very interesting how the author managed to work faith and religion into the story without it feeling like a turn off. I personally consider myself somewhere on the agnostic to atheist end of belief. Therefore, sometimes where a story is focused on a particular faith, it can either feel very preachy or as though an author is trying to convert the reader. I felt Rosie Danan managed to balance improving my knowledge of Judaism and building the importance of faith to Ethan, without losing any of the romantic/sexual tension building between the characters.
So, after my glowing review so far, you may be wondering why I have only given this book 4 stars. Well, if I am honest, in the early portions of the book therefore were a few slower moments that I felt were unnecessary and could have been removed and had no impact on the overall story. Especially given that toward the end of the story there felt like a few moments that were more rushed.
However, my main reason for giving 4 stars is the use of a very frustrating trope to me in romance. I will not go into details, as I don’t want to spoil anything for those picking up this novel. But there was a plot device in the final portion, that the author used in the first book, that I am not a huge fan of. I had hoped they wouldn’t use in this story, given it happened in the first book and there is a slower build this time around, but alas. It just felt like it dulled some of the sparkle on a story I had really been loving until that point.
It wasn’t enough to stop me recommending this story though. If you are a romance reader, and enjoy a level or sexual tension/smut and character building that isn’t straight up erotica, this book and it’s predecessor are definitely worth considering.
TLDR? An emotional, sensual romance about building a relationship that allows both members to flourish, even through adversity.