Review: The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“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.”

REVIEW:

I’ve been anticipating The Intimacy Experiment since I finished The Roommate. The Roommate was one of my favorite books of 2020 and I will recommend it to anyone, so I was really excited to read this follow up. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan is a companion novel to The Roommate. You don’t need to read it to understand The Intimacy Experiment but you definitely should.

Naomi Grant is our heroine. Introduced to us in The Roommate as Josh’s ex-girlfriend and fellow porn performer, she gets her star turn in this novel. Naomi has a Master’s in Psychology and has been looking to use it in teaching a course on human sexuality and relationships, on top of continuing to run Shameless with Clara. She has hit a roadblock due to her former profession. That’s where Ethan steps in, they meet at an education conference. Ethan is a very attractive, single, and unconventional Rabbi, who is looking to have her teach a course on modern intimacy for his synagogue in hopes of attracting a younger Jewish crowd.

Ethan and Naomi have insane chemistry from the very start of this book. Naomi has some reservations in acting on her attraction because of her past, she doesn’t want that to affect Ethan’s reputation. Ethan is somehow both adorable and hot. He understands Naomi in a way that she really has only experienced once before. Naomi is a fantastic heroine. She has her demons, but she is smart and confident. Her journey through this book is really beautiful. She opens herself back up to things that she blocked off due to her trauma. Some of this is through her relationship with Ethan, and some is through her reconnecting to her Jewish faith. This also allows her to form deeper connections with her friends as well.

I loved that Naomi isn’t tamed by her relationship with Ethan. So while she opens herself up to more intimacy in her relationships, she is still the same Naomi fundamentally. Ethan is a quintessential good guy. He is head over heels for Naomi pretty much immediately and always backs her up. I loved his thoughts on faith and the way they are framed throughout the novel. Their banter is incredible and such a strong part of this book (and of Danan’s writing in general). They felt like a fully fleshed out couple and I loved every minute spent with them. The steamy scenes are A+.

I highly recommend The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan. If you love contemporary romance, then you have to check it out. Rosie Danan writes fully fleshed out characters who are sex-positive. I loved The Roommate and I loved The Intimacy Experiment.

RATING: 5/5

Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide”

REVIEW:

This book has been sitting on my TBR for awhile but I finally picked it up. Where Dreams Descend is different from anything I’ve read recently. This book gives Phantom of the Opera and Night Circus vibes.

Where Dreams Descend is told from three points of view, Kallia, Jack, and Demarco. Kallia is a showgirl and powerful magician. She has been performing at the Hellfire House, a mysterious venue run by Jack. Kallia doesn’t really know much of her past and a lot of her present life has been a lie. Jack is Kallia’s teacher, magician, and captor. He often tells her it is for her own good that he keeps her trapped at the Hellfire House, but never gives any answers. Demarco is a former magician with a tragic past. He is seeking answers to his own personal tragedy when his and Kallia’s lives begin to intertwine.

I love the concept behind this book and the idea that magicians have real magic. Kallia is a compelling heroine, who is easy to root for as the world tries to break her down. I think the relationships in this book are very interesting. With Demarco, Kallia has found someone who really understands her. Her relationship with Jack is very twisted, he is both her captor and her teacher. She does have this strange pull to him, that can’t be ignored.

I really liked this book and it is incredibly compelling and interesting. I also think this book is too mysterious. We aren’t really given any info about this world, kept in the dark like Kallia. My problem with Where Dreams Descend is that I still don’t really understand how the world works, how the magic works, or what is really going on. The fact that this book is still incredibly compelling and I couldn’t put it down is a testament to the writing. By the end of this book, the mystery has only deepened and ends with a completely crazy cliffhanger.

I’m excited to see what the next book reveals, and hopefully, a lot of my questions are answered because I have a lot of them.

RATING: 4/5

Review: To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.”

REVIEW:

This is my first Lauren Layne novel, and now I need to read more! When I saw the summary of this book it checked off a lot of boxes; set in New York City, and hints of You’ve Got Mail. This book couldn’t really go wrong in my eyes.

Gracie, our protagonist, is a hopeless romantic. She feels stuck in a rut. She put aside her artistic dreams several years ago to take over the family business which was her father’s dying wish. She has gotten a bit too comfortable and is scared of taking chances. The highlight of her day is often her messages from her mystery man, Sir. They met on a dating site, where it is encouraged to fall for the personality first, so no pictures. She has been talking to Sir for months, but one complication is that Sir isn’t available. Sebastian then enters the picture. Her rival soon turned love interest. His company is her shop’s landlord, and he is trying to buy her out. Her family shop isn’t exactly profitable, but neither her nor her siblings want to give the shop up. Sebastian doesn’t fit what Gracie has always thought her dream man would look like. but after a meet-cute moment in the street and an undeniable connection she finds herself meeting up with him again and again.

Sebastian and Gracie’s chemistry is there from the start and the dialogue is superb. Their relationship develops gradually, never feeling rushed. Our main characters are rounded out with well thought out supporting characters that help build the world. Gracie’s relationship with her siblings is a definite highlight of this book. There is a lot of joy and hopefulness is this book, which I adored. While the book can be a bit formulaic plot wise, everything else is so well developed that it doesn’t hurt this novel.

To Sir, With Love feels just like a fairytale that our heroine loves. To Sir With Love will be released June 29th, 2021 by Gallery Books. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC. All thoughts are my own!

RATING: 5/5

Review: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone By Laini Taylor

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?”

REVIEW:

So even though this series turned 10 years old recently, I had just discovered it. I was strolling through my bookstore when I happened to stumble upon it. Needless to say I completely loved this book, and I am so excited to see where this series goes.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a bit hard to explain because the mystery of the world and what is going on is slowly revealed and explained to the reader throughout the book. Our heroine is Karou, she doesn’t really know where she came from; she goes on mysterious errands, deals in actual wishes, and interacts with “monsters” daily. Her life is turned upside down when she meets Akiva. Drawn to each other almost immediately, secrets are revealed that change everything about the world that Karou thought she knew.

I don’t want to reveal too much because one of the things I loved about this book was letting all the mysteries play out. I loved that as a reader you are just as much in the dark as Karou, you discover everything as she does. I loved the whole world that was built in this book, and the magic involved. You have our recognizable world, and then the incredible second world of the Seraphim and the Chimera. Taylor does an excellent job showing and building both of these worlds. They feel wholly original, and like nothing I’ve read in awhile. This book was also surprisingly romantic which I wasn’t expecting, but enjoyed that added layer to the story and relationships.

I honestly cannot recommend Daughter of Smoke and Bone enough. I loved every minute of reading it, and was completely sucked in. If you are looking for a new fantasy series definitely check this one out. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

RATING: 5/5

Review: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?”

REVIEW:

People We Meet on Vacation was my April Book of the Month pick and it was a no brainer choice. I read Beach Read by Emily Henry last summer, completely loved it and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year. So People We Meet on Vacation has been an eagerly anticipated release.

We meet Poppy as she is struggling with her job. She is feeling lost and unhappy, even though she has achieved her dream career. We begin to flashback to different vacations Poppy has taken with her best friend Alex. Poppy realizes that the times she has truly been happy is when she is spending time with Alex. Meeting in college, they are polar opposites but something about them together just works. Until something happened on one of their trips that caused them to have a falling out, which you spend most of the book waiting to find out. The book continues to jump back and forth between the present trip that Alex and Poppy are on to rekindle their friendship, and past ones they have taken throughout the years.

Poppy and Alex have amazing chemistry and the banter between the two is incredible. They are also such fully real and fleshed out characters. They are incredibly genuine which makes this book such an easy read, and you are rooting for them to get together the entire time. Poppy felt incredibly relatable as a fellow semi-lost millennial. This book is laugh out loud funny and completely heartbreaking at times. Seriously, I was crying at Poppy’s speech in the third act.

The only critique of this book I have was that it was a little slow going, but once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I definitely recommend if you are a lover of romcoms or Harry Met Sally (or any Meg Ryan movie in general) or friends to lovers romances. This book checks off all the boxes and I can’t wait to see what Emily Henry does next.

RATING: 5/5