After I read Out of Love on holiday, I picked up another book I’d been dying to read for ages: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon. After reading a slightly heavy book previously, this one was just the light relief I needed.
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.
After the stark honesty of Out of Love, The Ex Talk felt like a literary palette cleanser. Even looking at the cover made me think, you know what, I want to read this. Let me tell you, despite its mixed reviews, it didn’t disappoint.
The story follows Shay Goldstein, a producer at a public radio station in Seattle. She has loved radio since she was a child, as it reminds her of lovely times with her father, so she’s a little bit heartbroken when 24 year old Dominic Yun is hired – fresh from his master’s degree- and is already climbing the ranks. Matters are made worse when the station has to go through a downsizing and the only way to save it, much to Shay’s dismay, is for the two to team up for a new program.
Shay was a good protagonist. Admittedly, at first, she annoyed me. She put so much energy into hating Dominic but, really, this “hate” is massively one sided. Of course, as the book went on, I actually liked her a lot more. She’s funny, spiky and determined – I like that Solomon created a female character who is just as good in a relationship as she is out of one. She’s extremely self aware, which is rare in this kind of fiction but I really appreciated it.
In another life, I’m pretty sure I’d be a radio host. The one thing holding me back (aside from not knowing anyone in radio, not having the confidence and not being in the know) is the fact that I hate the sound of my own voice and it was good of Solomon to create a main character with exactly that problem. A lot of radio hosts give me the impression that they love the sound of their own voices so it was refreshing to see the opposite. It also meant that we were able to see a journey, as Shay grows more confident in herself and her voice as the story goes on.
I’m a massive lover of enemies to lovers stories, as frequent readers of this blog will know, so this book hit the spot. Of course, Shay and Dominic being enemies is a bit debatable (maybe professional rivals?) but there’s no denying the loveeee that’s there. It was unexpectedly steamy and the banter between Shay and Dominic was great to read as well.
I really enjoyed when the book went from its traditional form to the transcript of each episode, as you are able to get more of an insight into the characters and their personalities.
Of course, not even a book featuring my favourite trope is without its error. I love an enemies to lovers story as much as the next person but, quite honestly, they weren’t enemies. As we only get Shay’s point of view, she made it seem as though they were but – from Dominic’s side – there’s no animosity. Though Shay’s narrative was perfectly fine, I do wish this was a dual narrative book as I would’ve liked to see the “rivalry” to romance from both sides.
The Ex Talk is an easy read, an enemies to lovers story with some substance – as death and tricky relationships is discussed. It was exactly the kind of book I love to read and, despite its mixed reviews, I’m glad to say I enjoyed this one.
You can buy this book here.