Book reviews

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Okay. Before breaking down the charming and humorous elements of this novel, let me be frank in saying that I liked it–generally–but not as much as I hoped. As someone who also does podcasting, the storyline definitely has its appeal and was successful in luring me into reading. However, as I read along, I found myself growing unchallenged and slowly losing interest in the developments of the story. To be completely transparent, I think my judgment is largely based on the reason that I have seen a Hallmark movie–Romance in the Air which aired in 2020–having almost a similar setup.

Now, hear me out. I say almost, because there are clear differences between the two. In this novel, The Ex Talk by author Rachel Lynn Solomon, we have Shay Goldstein and Dominic Yun, both working at Pacific Public Radio (PPR). Shay works as a senior producer who’s always dreamed of being on air, hosting her own show. With her love and passion for public radio strengthened by her fondest memories with her late father, Shay has always felt at home in the radio industry. So much so that she’s remained a producer for the past ten years, instead of reaching for her dreams of working behind the mic and telling her own stories. That is until the arrival of Dominic Yun.

Dominic Yun is PPR’s most latest hire. He has a master’s degree in journalism and takes his role as a reporter seriously. Having only worked at the station for the past four months, he has proven himself a good fit for the job. Dominic has even earned the boss’ favor–a fact which Shay envies (because who can blame her? She’s been on the job for ten years versus Dominic’s four months. It’s incomparable, to say the least). The station dynamic has certainly brought an air of animosity between the two. They are never friendly with each other, always finding ways to avoid running into each, bickering about the smallest things. It’s just impossible to imagine them together.

Which brings us to The Ex Talk. It has come to light that the radio station isn’t profiting as it should be for months now, prompting a difficult decision to enforce retrenchment. This meant layoffs and, unfortunately, discontinuation of Shay’s decade-long show, Puget Sounds. Now hoping to create a fresh, new show which would help revitalize the station’s economic situation, Shay blurted her pitch, The Ex Talk, where exes will talk about their past relationship and find out where it all went wrong. As suggestions were being made, Shay and Dominic get into another bickering episode, putting on display a chemistry their boss had deemed appealing for radio.

In order to save their jobs, and ultimately, help their careers and PPR, Shay and Dominic agreed to pretend to be exes, co-host the show, and dissect their supposed relationship for public consumption. It’s a win-win, actually. Shay finally gets to live her dream of hosting her own show, and Dominic will use the exposure as a springboard to become the reporter he’s always envisioned. It all makes for good radio, but only until they can continue their pretense and avoid falling for each other for real.

Well, you see? It’s a very interesting plot. There’s the fake relationship trope, paired with my favorite enemies to lovers theme. There are also many arcs in the story that I recommend you to read for yourself. It’s just the manner in which the storyline evolved and how the ending took place that makes me reference back to the Hallmark movie, Romance in the Air. If not for that, I guess it would be charming as hell.

I like Dominic’s shy and reserved personality. He makes for a swoon-worthy male lead. I also enjoyed how his character slowly peeled its protective layers–allowing readers to see beneath that tough exterior. He is strong and firm in his convictions, making his journalist background more fitting. He’s not at all the jerk kind of male character, separating him instantly to the main antagonist of this story. Then we have Shay’s independence and self-sufficiency, which is very admirable. She knows what it is she wants to do in life, and pursues it with a ferocity unlike any other. Well, both of them are like this, actually.

I give this book 3.5 stars. Again, don’t get me wrong, I like it in general. To be honest, I’m biased to anything that mentions podcasting and radio and recording booths and sound boards. I know enough about the setting which makes it easier to visualize. I just hoped for a less cliched ending for Shay and Dominic. But yes, my heart is happy for what it’s found in this read–that is, a chance at real love for two people who deserve every bit of happiness.

I hope you enjoy this read. I’m considering reading another novel by Rachel Lynn Solomon, but it’s too early to tell. I guess you’ll find out what I ended up with on the next blog. 🙂

  • Title: The Ex Talk
  • Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Year published: 2021
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • Total number of pages: 358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-593-20012-4

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