In this feminist rom-com, Clara, a woman from a wealthy conservative family, moves to the West Coast and finds herself living with a charming male porn star named Josh. When a fling leads Clara to realize what's she's been missing, she offers to finance a new company for Josh that produces erotic films centering women's pleasure.
Billed as a 'raunch com,' The Roommate both absolutely fits that bill and defies the implications of that Judd Apatow-tinged label. It’s more feminist, more tender, and sexier than anything that term suggests ... a towering inferno of steam, a novel with a risqué premise that belies its abundant heart and profound sense of yearning. For a book that doesn’t flinch when discussing pornography, it’s refreshingly vulnerable, tearing up any assumptions readers might have about the seedier sides of the business to celebrate equitable pleasure and consent (while also getting real about the abuses that can plague the industry and sex work more broadly) ... Danan’s voice is sparkling, witty and direct. She’s able to pivot from disarming pop culture references to electric sex scenes to frank heart-to-hearts that mask deep pools of want with stunning ease. The Roommate might offer a hard-core premise, but it’s gloriously soft and joyful, a sex positive manifesto inside a deliriously romantic, wickedly shameless love story.
Surprising, funny, sexy and original, The Roommate is on my shortlist of favorite books of 2020. It’s excellent ... The Roommate cleverly dovetails three seemingly disparate plot threads—Clara’s search for an identity; Josh’s positive experiences in a notoriously exploitive industry; and opposites/friends/roommates falling for each other ... Although I like almost everything about this story and its sex-positive, female empowerment message, it’s an idealized version of the porn industry ... This is a light hearted depiction of the porn industry, and while it works in the context of the story, I can’t think it’s accurate or realistic. I also had a hard time segueing from Josh’s hearty sexual appetite to his laser focus on Clara so quickly after they meet… but since I was highly entertained by his constant state of sexual frustration for most of the novel, I can forgive it! The Roommate is a delightful opposites-attract romance I couldn’t put down.
... a sex-positive, contemporary romance debut that has given me something I’ve been searching for: romantic leads who are involved in sex work (minus all of the shame and slut-shaming). I’m happy to say that The Roommate delivered on that front, and the romance was rather cute, too, despite being slightly different than what I was expecting ... it’s not where I thought the book was going and while I fully support Josh and Clara’s ultimate goal, the blackmail plot wasn’t my favorite. I would have much preferred focusing on Clara’s shedding of the shame and shackles of her upbringing, where reputation and appearances are prized and emphasized ... When it comes to The Roommate, the biggest question is whether it lives up to the hype and I think it really depends on what you think you’re getting into. Is it a story that focuses on the heroine’s sexual self-exploration? Not enough for my tastes: the blackmail plot against Josh and Clara’s worries about social fallout that never materializes overshadow that part of the story, which was the part I most enjoyed.