The Ex Talk was another book I committed to reading as part of a 12 books chosen by followers on social media challenge I’m taking part in this year. I downloaded it for my flight back to Los Angeles from Nashville and made it through about half of it before the plane landed. It had a lot of promise – I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers troupe – but in the end, I was only mediocre on this one.
The official synopsis:
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.
I didn’t love either character although I didn’t dislike either of them either. I was entirely neutral towards them. Shay was meant to be fierce and independent, but she came across (to me) as gun shy and change adverse while Dominic was sometimes the mature one, other times entirely immature. The author made an attempt to make sure the story was diverse, but it was almost too much – she packed in interracial relationships, interfaith relationships, multiple LGBTQ+ characters, an assortment of races and ethnicities… I read several reviews that said it tried too hard and I have to agree with that sentiment no matter how much I appreciate the attempt.
The story itself was good as Shay and Dominic navigated the waters of faking their way through a podcast that became almost instantly popular. I also enjoyed that it was set in public radio (although I still wonder how Shay had money to buy a house and plenty of savings while working in public radio and living in Seattle…) as that isn’t a place we see featured in books often. I also liked the twist on who the big bad was (I guessed it pretty early on though) and the ending was satisfying.
Not good. Not bad. Just – satisfying. Neutral.
This isn’t a book to skip entirely – I have a couple of friends who loved it – but it’s not one I would rush to purchase immediately. Save it for when you’re looking for something light and quick with a predictable storyline.
I give it three stars out of five.