Goodreads // 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.
The Ex Talk had all the basic plot points to make me like it, such as a unique take on the fake-dating trope, plus the enemies-to-lovers trope too, the podcast theme… but the hype building around it for the past few weeks* raised my expectations too much, perhaps. To me, this was a fun book, but it wasn’t particularly remarkable. (*In the PT bookish community, at least, as the translated edition was recently published here.)
The enemies-to-lovers aspect, the supposed hate, and banter I was hoping for, was quickly resolved and stemmed more from jealousy and misunderstandings than anything else. The unique take on the fake dating – a.k.a. them pretending they had dated in the past and were now friendly exes for the podcast – turned out to lead to the same-old predictable twists and turns that come with this trope. It made it so predictable and less enjoyable.
Shay as the main character didn’t do it for me either. Honestly, I just didn’t like her. She was a boring workaholic who had little else in life besides work – and in a way it basically made me think of everything I don’t want in life. Although, I like how driven she was, that she knew what she wanted to do and tried to get it throughout the story even if it was in small doses sometimes – like making her house feel more like a home, make more friends or go out more…
Plus, I like how grief was portrayed in this book – Shay’s grief for her father and grief for losing a spouse, more specifically. But I didn’t really connect with it emotionally as much as I could have and I think that’s because I read this book so soon after Beach Read. It also deals with the loss of a parent, and in a much more raw, emotional way that was so poignant and bittersweet….and I just loved Beach Read. (So this isn’t a critique of this book per se…)
Dominic, the love interest, was my favorite thing about this book actually. Finally, a love interest that isn’t some older, super popular hot womanizer – but someone who values relationships and intimacy and doesn’t do one-night stands. How refreshing! He was vocal about this, which made it all the more frustrating when the typical fake-dating antics occurred – the “is this real” or “this doesn’t mean anything, it’s just pretend” moments. Or when he mentioned he liked someone and Shay didn’t even think of herself ONCE… this book had some very frustrating moments.
I really liked the writing style. I read the PT translation rather than the original writing so I can’t be sure it’s actually that good, but it had some very good moments (and I underlined so many quotes).
Overall, I’m a little disappointed with this book. All I wanted was a fun, cute romance, but other than the podcast, it was so typical – essentially the same as every other romance I read with these tropes – that it became boring and predictable.… so, I guess I don’t recommend it.
Tropes: fake dating, enemies-to-lovers, age gap, office romance. CW: death of a parent (mentioned), grief and trauma, graphic sexual scenes.
4 thoughts on “Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon”
I haven’t heard of this book. Sorry to hear you were a little disappointed about this book. I imagine it was a little gutting to not be a bit different to other romance stories. Thank you for sharing your honest opinion.
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
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You pretty much had the EXACT same thought process about this book as I did. I had very high expectations after hearing it hyped up for so long, but it definitely fell flat for me. It wasn’t terrible or anything, just not great. I do hope I enjoy Weather Girl more as it seems even more people loved that one!
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I heard so many contrasting reviews on this book. the synopsis sounds great, but I guess probably it didn’t live the hype it was created before! I have another book from the same author I want to read, so hoping that’s better!
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