Published by Berkley on 26th January 2021
Buy on Amazon
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 catch feelings for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
“The Ex Talk” is a fantastically original take on work nemesis-turned-lovers done in the realm of public radio—an area which I frankly know less than nothing about. But the context is simple enough: Rachel Lynn Solomon guides you through two at-odds colleagues who are forced to pretend to be ex-es on air—everything that’s against their natural inclinations and personal interests—because management is holding their jobs over their heads.
The sheer amount of diversity is staggering….but welcome. Aside from the multicultural, LGBTQ representation in the cast of secondary characters, Dominic Yun and Shay Goldstein are in itself a pairing that I’ve never quite seen before, knitted together with scenes of witty banter, chemistry-laden dialogue and brimming sexual tension that made “The Ex Talk” impossible to put down. With the spin on the fake-dating trope and the pretence of being ex-es, I simply couldn’t really tell where this was heading and it was the unpredictability that kept me going on and on.
It’s both swoony, funny and cringey at times; perhaps because there’s the younger man/older woman vibe that sort of gave the idea that Dom wasn’t too far away from his awkward years. I did think that some later parts felt a little choppy and start-stop—particularly the bits done with the conflict and making-up and the regression of adults acting like teens—but it could possibly just be me nitpicking about how I want to see my protagonists behave.
Long story short, “The Ex Talk” is my rare find and perfect for escaping the travails of a year I can’t wait to see the back of.