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THE INTIMACY EXPERIMENT
April 6, 2021
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 loved The Roommate. It’s super steamy and fun, with surprisingly complex characters who approach sex in an honest, positive, and playful way. I was expecting a lot from author Rosie Danan’s follow-up, The Intimacy Experiment. The book still provides a candid, sex-positive story (though with a lot less steam this time around, much to my disappointment), but it didn’t quite perform (sorry) as well as her debut novel.
A lot of people love this book, but I was so boredboredbored by the focus on sex and religion. I grew up in a conservative religious household and went to a conservative religious high school that rarely broached the topic of sex. If it weren’t for my, ahem, forthright mother who could never quite squash the free-talking, free-loving hippie inside of her, I wouldn’t have known much about sex beyond “don’t masturbate and don’t allow a penis in your vagina until you’re married…but fyi you can still do butt-stuff and call yourself a virgin.” (If I had a nickel for every girl I knew who “protected her virginity” by letting some dude penetrate her bung-hole…) 🤦♀️
All that to say that I find the conversation tedious. I’ve had it too many times, and I’m just not interested in wasting any more of my precious energy on it. So I chose to skim the very long tormented dialogues between Naomi and Ethan as they tried to reconcile their seemingly at-odds beliefs. And I skimmed some of the ending, too, because it felt convoluted, a little dramatic, and problematic in its timeline. Also, I was irritated by that point.
One last thing, just to get it out of my system… There is no conflict between sex and religion. Or at least there shouldn’t be. Sex is a natural part of being human. It’s not dirty or perverted—whether it’s casual, intense, solitary, filmed, or whatever. In my experience the only time it gets gross is when people go to one extreme or the other—either they suppress and obsess (and then things get dark), or they think everything is on the table and there for the taking (i.e., one person thinks he has and should have all the power). For most of us, though, sex is just one part of the whole self or relationship, one way of expressing or receiving or enjoying, among many other ways.
I give this book 3.5 stars, but I’ll round up because some people may find the sex and religion conversation relevant.
Thank you Berkley and Net Galley for the ARC!