- Title: The Ex Talk
- Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Publisher: Berkley
- Release Date: 1/26/21
- Genre: Romance
- Age Range: Adult
- Trigger Warnings: Death of a parent, cancer
- Rating: ★★★★★
- Publisher’s Summary: 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.
My best friend, Caitlyn, recommended that I read The Ex Talk, and she was absolutely right to think it is up my alley. The Ex Talk is a classic enemies to lovers story. It was clear from the beginning that Shay and Dominic would end up together, and I was invested in how the story played out.
Like me, Shay is a short Jew in her late 20s from the West Coast. I immediately connected with her. I especially got a kick out of Shay describing her CD collection that included Mandy Moore, NSYNC, and Now That’s What I Call Music albums because I had the same albums in the early 2000s. She also adopts a high needs dog, which is something I also did recently. It is rare for me to feel so “seen” by the main character in a romance novel.
Shay and Dominic are a compelling central couple. They develop a natural rapport while working on their show, The Ex Talk, together that it makes so much sense that they would develop a romantic relationship. I definitely would be one of the listeners of their podcast hoping they’d get back together. I also enjoyed learning more about Dominic as Shay does. His love for antique cast irons pans and Beanie Baby collection are so charming. I mean, what 90’s kid didn’t collect them? I not only was rooting for them to get together, but I wanted to be friends with both of them.
I loved the emphasis on Shay’s relationship with each of her parents as well. It is so lovely how Shay’s late father inspired her passion for radio. While she doesn’t share her mother’s passion for music, Shay is also able to connect with her mother in significant ways. When Shay brings her mom onto The Ex Talk to talk about finding love after grief, there is a profound feeling of healing. Dominic’s parents clearly play an important role in his life as well. The Ex Talk makes it clear that both familial love and romantic love are important.
I am a big podcast fan who is a loyal weekly listener of many shows. It was fun to get a glimpse into how a podcast gets made and rises to popularity from gaining a social media following and sponsors to live shows at a big podcast convention. I especially loved that Shay and Dominic are sent shoes made from corn by a potential sponsor. It is the perfect touch to include transcripts of The Ex Talk between chapters.
I wish that I could listen to The Ex Talk among my other weekly podcasts. I look forward to reading more books by Rachel Lynne Solomon.
Food Pairing: Pad Thai
There are so many foods mentioned in The Ex Talk that I had a lot of different possibilities of food pairings for this one. Dominic makes Shay pasta primavera on a romantic weekend away, and they first bond over bi bim bap at a Korean restaurant.
Shay tells Dominic that her favorite takeout is Thai food, and The Ex Talk specifically points to pad thai as her order of choice. It comes up in a few important moments of the novel, and it is the perfect pairing for this novel. Not only do the characters love the dish, but it is also comforting and a people pleaser like this novel.
Pad thai has always been a favorite dish of mine as well. Chrissy Teigen’s recipes are some of my favorites, and she shared a recipe based on her mom’s cooking. My husband and I made her recipe for Drunken Noodles, my husband’s go to whenever we order Thai food.
I highly recommend grabbing a bowl of noodles and curling up with The Ex Talk.