The Sex Therapist Next Door by Meghan O'BrienThe Sex Therapist Next Door by Meghan O’Brien is the latest offering from the queen of lesbian erotic romance. This book is not for the faint of heart and shouldn’t be read in public (unless you like to live dangerously).

Diana Kelley has a big problem. In a few short hours, she’ll have a classroom full of women expecting a live, hands-on sex education class, and her best friend and teaching partner, Ava, has just called to say she’s fractured her spine. Needless to say, Ava won’t be participating for a while, and what’s a sex therapist to do in the meantime?

Jude Monaco has had a massive crush on the older woman next door for more than a year, and she can’t believe her luck when Diana has a proposal for her. Get paid to have sex with the woman who’s fueled many of her fantasies? Oh yes, please. So, they set the terms: $500 a session, sex only in the classroom, and they’re only ever neighbors when they’re not in class.

Diana has zero interest in a romantic relationship after the trainwreck that was her last relationship and Jude is just happy to take what she can get with the woman of her dreams—even if she knows it might lead to heartbreak. But the class is about intimacy as much as it’s about sex, so can they really keep things strictly professional?

It’s a master class in erotic romance writing

I just want to slow clap for Meghan O’Brien because this book is wonderfully done. The Sex Therapist Next Door is exactly what erotic romance should be. There is a LOT of sex in this book and every single instance is necessary because it fuels story, character, or relationship development. Sometimes we join Diana and Jude partway into an encounter or a scene breaks before everyone’s had their orgasms, and that works because this is more than just porn (which has its place, but is distinctly different in its purpose and goals). This is a romance with fully developed characters who have deep, emotional journeys, and the sex is central in a way that we don’t typically see in other types of romance.

Like many of her other books, O’Brien does a fabulous job of showing just how sexy enthusiastic consent can be. And in The Sex Therapist Next Door, she adds to that by have a lot of conversations between the leads about boundaries. That means that not only is it a sexy book, it’s an important and instructive one, because it’s modelling exactly the kinds of conversations they can and should be having in the bedroom, whether you’re with a new or longtime partner.

But is it actually hot?, some of you may ask. Um, yup. It sure is. And if age gaps are your jam, you’re going to especially love it, because in addition to all that mindblowing sex, Jude and Diana also spend a lot of time talking about the thirteen-year age difference between them. It works and it’s awesome and I loved it.

My own personal soapbox

For all the amazing exploration of boundaries and consent, one adjacent issue felt missing—safer sex practices. Given Diana’s job, I was surprised that they didn’t discuss how recently either of them had been tested for STIs or that barriers were never used or considered.

I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again: the baby queers in our community don’t have a lot of media to turn to so they can build expectations and an understanding of what they can and should do to take care of themselves. So again, I’m going to put the call out to authors writing f/f romance: please, please start writing these conversations about STI testing. Start depicting women using dams during oral and condoms with toys. If you make it part of a scene where enthusiastic consent is built in, it will still be sexy and you just might help some readers along the way.

The Narration

So… I was a bit skeptical that I’d be able to get into the audio version of this book. I tried listening to The Night Off a couple of years ago and it was SO steamy that I just couldn’t get through it (maybe because I made the mistake of trying to listen to it on a train and almost immediately turned into a puddle?).

I don’t recommend listening to The Sex Therapist Next Door in public, but I *do* recommend getting the audio version, especially if you’re a fan of audiobooks! Although the narrator’s name is listed as Brittni Powers on the Audible website, fans of Brittni Pope will be glad to hear that the performance is just as sultry as the other books she’s read, with that extra special something you can only get in a Meghan O’Brien book. I was also blown away by how she handled the big crisis moment, because she made me feel ALL the feelings.

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The Conclusion

There’s a lot to love about The Sex Therapist Next Door. The age gap romance is beautifully handled, watching Diana thaw is so satisfying, and it is hands down one of the sexiest reads of 2018. On a personal note, it’s also one of my favourite books of the year. If erotic romance is at all your thing, you won’t want to miss this one.

Excerpt from The Sex Therapist Next Door by Meghan O’Brien

Jude surrendered to impatience and begged for the answer to her most burning question. “Please, please ask me your favor. After that disclaimer, I’m willing to bet it’s not anywhere near as inappropriate as what my perverted brain has conjured up.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Diana attempted a brave smile, but her hands were shaking. “You’d be surprised.”

Jude’s heart raced. “So surprise me.”

Diana pulled her phone out of her jacket pocket, glanced at the time, then shielded her eyes with her free hand and sighed wearily. “These workshops…I have this friend, Ava, who usually assists me. And her assistance is essential because, well…I employ a hands-on teaching style. My classes are meant to be interactive. With one’s partner, of course. Ava…plays the role of my partner. So I’m able to…demonstrate what I’m telling my students.”

Jude barely resisted the urge to pinch her own arm. She wasn’t dreaming, but she also wasn’t entirely convinced that what seemed to be happening was really…happening. Afraid to speak—hell, afraid to move—she impersonated a statue and simply listened.

“I’m not sure I want to know what you must be thinking.” Diana peered between her fingers, wincing sheepishly at Jude’s wide-eyed stare. “About what I do for a living, about why I’ve told you all of this as a precursor to the inappropriate favor I never should’ve come here to ask—”

“Yes.” To hell with waiting to hear the details. After all this buildup, she couldn’t fathom not doing anything Diana asked. “I’m in. Whatever you need from me, I’ll do. Enthusiastically.”

Diana’s breath caught, an almost inaudible hitch that elevated Jude’s ardor to ever more dizzying heights. “Maybe wait to hear what you’re agreeing to first.”

Shivering, Jude murmured, “All right. Why don’t you tell me what you need, Diana?”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781635552966
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
  • Narrator: Brittni Powers
  • Meghan O’Brien‘s Wesbite

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About the author

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Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.