The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
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.
Learn more on Rachel’s website.
The Ex Talk Review + Mini Recipe
When I read the premise of The Ex Talk, I immediately knew it would be my jam. Enemies-to-lovers? Hell yeah! Podcasting? Absolutely! A twist on fake dating? GIVE! IT! TO! ME!
I am happy to say that The Ex Talk delivers on all that and so much more. That’s why I chose to pair it with an Aperol and soda: it’s sweet with hidden depths, and it’s something I can drink/read over and over again.
It has everything I love in a rom-com: mutual pining, bickering, tension, and steamy scenes. Shay and Dominic’s dynamic is so good throughout the whole book, and often, I found myself yelling at these two idiots to finally admit that they like each other. It’s also hilarious and made me laugh so hard, leaving me in tears.
I think the most appealing part of the novel was the commentary on young adulthood, dispelling what it means to be a working adult. Shay has dedicated so much of her life to the radio station and career that she feels…lonely. In my opinion, books about your 20’s tend to ignore the emptiness you may feel. It becomes harder to stay connected with your friends and family, to focus on your career, and to find a romantic partner (if you’re into that lol).
This sense of loneliness isn’t anything new to Shay, since her father passed away years ago. She’s spent so much time trying to make him proud, putting all this time into the radio. As someone who isn’t a stranger to losing parents, I related so much to that part.
In the end, Shay learns how to move on from these arbitrary expectations us
20-somethings put on ourselves. Growing up, we’re taught that there is one way to be successful, or that a career without passion isn’t worth it, etc. When we figure out that these expectations are merely guidelines—that we can decide what we want to do—we give ourselves permission to thrive.
Bringing it back to romance: there’s something about enemies/rivals at the workplace that is just so *chef’s kiss*. During one scene when they finally start to get along, seeing each other for who they are, is quintessential rom-com. I just really love Shay and Dominic so much. They push and challenge each other, and their banter is extremely enjoyable.
Aperol and sodas have become a surprise favorite drink in the past few months, as you can tell by the near-empty bottle. I used a simple recipe (2 parts Aperol, 1 part simple syrup, and 4 parts sparkling water) and added a splash of lemon because I can. To match the aesthetic of The Ex Talk, I suggest pairing it with prepackaged cheese, nuts, and dried fruit, something chocolate-y, and your favorite podcast. If you like the dynamic between Shay and Dominic, I suggest listening to Wonderful! with Rachel and Griffin McElroy. They talk about all the things they find wonderful, and their delightful rapport reminds me of the transcripts interspersed through the book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for providing me a free e-ARC in exchange
for an honest review.