Rosie Danan returns with The Intimacy Experiment, a steamy contemporary romance that is every bit as enjoyable as her debut, The Roommate. It’s a triumph of feminist fiction, supporting the importance of healthy emotional and physical intimacy and showing how to make the world a better place with love.
Startup executive Naomi Grant thinks of herself as something of a superhero. She’s a former porn star who left behind her previous name and identity to build an enormous platform and take-no-prisoners public image, which she has used to transition into a career as a sex educator. But given the cultural stigma surrounding sex work, she isn’t welcome in the lecture circuit or in higher education.
She’s the perfect foil to Rabbi Ethan Cohen, one of the city’s hottest bachelors, who’s been tasked with attracting a younger generation to the faith. His own background is somewhat nontraditional, in that he was a career academic before devoting his life to his faith.
Faced with budget woes and low participation, Ethan decides to pursue a controversial initiative with Naomi by asking her to co-host a seminar series on modern intimacy. Rather than judging her former career as a sex worker, he focuses on her intelligence and the successful company and message she’s created. Not only does he acknowledge the brain behind Naomi's beauty, he also understands that the things she’s talking about are important to the millennial generation his congregation needs to survive.
The Intimacy Experiment is sexy and modern and fun, but also thoughtful and authentic. Danan avoids tired stereotypes: Ethan isn’t the least bit squeamish about sex, and Naomi is vulnerable and open when considering their budding romance. There’s a lot at stake for both of these flawed, richly layered characters. For them to love each other, openly and without reserve, is a risk to their professional reputations. And even without all of that, it takes a brave person to tell another, “I think I could be good at loving you,” and mean it. It takes a brave person to believe they’re worthy of that love. Danan crafts a beautiful arc as Naomi learns to stand in the real world and let her true self shine through, reconciling both her “superhero” and “secret” identities, and trusting that Ethan will love all of who she is.