From the publisher:
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 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.
I loved Danan’s first book, The Roommate, so I was very excited for this one. And it came out as the number one book for April from Library Reads. And the male protagonist is a Rabbi! All in my wheelhouse for sure. But even so, this was just an okay read for me.
Naomi, nee Hannah Sturm, a nice Jewish girl gone porn star, is our heroine. Her porn days are pretty much behind her now that she has taken her notoriety and turned it into an uber-successful website called Shameless, where women (mostly) can go to learn about sexuality. Her next goal is to get a teaching gig but doors are being slammed in her face, until she meets Rabbi Ethan Cohen. He is the young newish Rabbi at a small Los Angeles synagogue. He has high hopes of bringing in young people into the synagogue, as almost all of his congregants are retirees. Their temple can’t compete with their big money neighbors, so Ethan decides to hire Naomi to teach a course on Intimacy.
The initial turnout is in single digits, but a word of mouth leads to slight growth but it’s when Naomi brings in her marketing guru that things really take off. There is a strong attraction between the Rabbi and Naomi, but she is convinced he needs a nice Jewish girl and she barely remembers anything since her bat mitzvah. Ethan can’t believe a worldly woman like Naomi could possibly be interested in a rabbi, and they are at crossed points despite their growing attraction. The synagogue elders are not thrilled about this development at all, and there is some pushback that eventually gets pretty serious.
I found the story slow moving and the romance tepid. I really wanted to like this more than I did, but apparently I’m in the minority and I’m fine with that. Would love to hear from anyone who reads it.
4/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE INTIMACY EXPERIMENT by Rosie Danan. Berkley (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593101629. 336 pages.