I’ll be honest: I picked up The Roommate because #Bookstagram promised me it’s “super spicy”. I’d like to pretend it takes more than that to pique my interest, but it really doesn’t. I’m a simple creature, and books about good-looking people gettin’ it on are always going to grab my attention.

The Roommate - Rosie Danan - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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The female lead, Clara, is a straight-laced old-money girl from Connecticut. She’s been pining after a guy who’s Just Not That Into Her for fourteen years. When The Roommate begins, she’s just picked up her life and moved across the country to Los Angeles to stay with him a while. Only, she learns upon arrival that he’s actually ditching her for the summer to go on tour with his band. What a guy!

He tells Clara not to worry, though, because he’s sub-let the second bedroom in his house to “a guy from Craigslist”. (Seriously, no red flags at all, this is fine.)

Clara is shocked to discover pretty early on that this “guy from Craigslist” is, in fact, a porn star. (Ahem, sorry, adult entertainer.) And he’s not a skeevy porn star who relies heavily on performance enhancing drugs, either. He’s a traditionally good-looking, hetrosexual adult performer who doesn’t use any drugs or do any hardcore scenes, and he’s got so much ‘mainstream appeal’ that they publish profiles of him in GQ and Buzzfeed. You know, one of those porn stars, there’s heaps of them around! (In this fantasy land…)

This is Josh, and despite having sex for a living, he’s just as turned on by Clara as she is by him. He’s going to open Clara’s eyes to a world of pleasure and turn all her preconceived notions on their heads. In turn, she’ll finance his new pornography-adjacent business venture and give him a lot of boners.

It takes a minute for Danan to find her pace and settle into her characters, but once she does, hold onto your hat. The Roommate is, indeed, super spicy, and a lot more sex-positive than your stock-standard romantic comedy. The sex, steamy as it might be, is also essential to the plot and character development for both Clara and Josh, keeping this book firmly out of gratuitous erotica territory. The sexy stuff is also nicely balanced by some real romance and sweet moments between the two leads.

I feel like I should be more critical of how the porn industry is portrayed in The Roommate, as it’s hardly realistic, but it’s hard to be too harsh when (a) this book is just so much fun to read, and (b) Danan does so much more than any other romance author I’ve read to bring the industry into the light. So, I guess I’ll settle for recommending that you treat this one as what it is: a romantic fantasy, a rose-coloured fairytale version of working in porn. You won’t get any more insight into the realities of adult entertainment than you would getting a feel for what it’s like to be a journalist from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.

I read The Roommate in one sitting. In fact, I stayed up past my (admittedly, already quite late) bedtime to get to the end. It’s exactly the kind of rom-com I love, spicy and seasoned with wish-fulfillment. It’s definitely one for more open-minded readers, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who prefers their romances replete with chaste kisses and closed doors, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My favourite Amazon reviews of The Roommate:

  • “This book was not for me and I will be returning it as it’s simply an embarrassment to have in my possession.” – A
  • “The characters were too obnoxious to be charming.” – Amazon Customer
  • “There were much steamier sex scenes in The Kiss Quotient. Michael was a male prostitute and he KNEW what he was doing in the bedroom. I was left horny for dayssssss after reading it. I’ve reread that book so many times, even bookmarked the steamy scenes for future consumption lol. I got my money’s worth with that book. This book? Will never be read again.” – I am the stranger leaping into your photos!