A review copy of The Ex Talk was generously provided by Berkley Publishing Group
Earlier this year, I read Rachel Lynn Solomon’s delightful YA contemporary romance, Today Tonight Tomorrow – a book about a girl who aspires to be a romance author. Naturally, when I found out she had her adult romance debut coming out, I ran to request it from Netgalley. The Ex Talk might just be her best book yet.
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
As with Rachel Lynn Soloman’s YA books, The Ex Talk was exceptionally well written. I was hooked from the first pages – the story launches quickly and made it very, very hard to put this book down. I loved how fast paced and well plotted this book was – every moment felt integral to the story and the subplots contributed beautifully to the main story. This book also had an authenticity that is often missing in romance novels – the writing, plot and characters never strayed too over the top. Plus, the quality of the banter was off the charts – even the early bickering between Shay and Dominic was super fun to read.
I really, really loved Shay – she was quirky and imperfect and incredibly career focused. During the story, she faced a reckoning about what she really wanted to do with her life. This reckoning was a slow burn – she started the book by often considering what her late father would think about her career and life decisions, and as the book progressed, she began changing her frame of mind and began making decisions for herself instead of for what others would think of her. It was this character growth that made Shay such a special character. Her slow change in values was not without its bumps in the road, but ultimately she became a stronger and more self reliant character for it. Plus, getting to see her be a feminist bad ass and stand up to her sexist boss was magnificent.
It’s been a minute since a romance book gave me the butterflies that The Ex Talk gave me – right off the bat Shay and Dominic had great chemistry, even as enemies. This wasn’t your typical enemies to lovers story – Shay and Dominic went from enemies to fake exes / radio cohosts to lovers. This intermediate phase where they had to both be out of their comfort zone and work together for their radio show was amazing. Even as they slowly started developing their attractions to each other, their chemistry sizzled and it was impossible not to root for their happily ever after.
The Ex Talk is an excellent and very well rounded romance novel – it has it all: excellent female friendships, a career driven leading lady, a middle finger to sexism in the workplace, and a gratifying love story. If you haven’t already, you should check out Today Tonight Tomorrow (also by Rachel Lynn Soloman) and Ten Rules for Faking It (another radio based romance novel). I can’t wait to read whatever this author writes next. 5/5