The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Monday, January 25, 2021


by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Publication Date: January 26th 2021
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷1/2

This was quite a lovely read and I 100% expected that given how much I have enjoyed Rachel Lynn Solomon's YA books in the past. She has a fresh, funny, and engaging voice that translated very well into the adult contemporary romance setting. The Ex Talk is a 2021 romance novel not to be missed!

Shay has a life-long career working as a producer at her public radio station. Though she loves public radio, she feels like her job has been stagnant in many ways. On the other hand, there is Dominic, a freshly graduated colleague of Shay. Dominic is a bit of a know-it-all and frequently brings up his master's degree from Northwestern, causing him to often clash with Shay. Circumstances lead to these two having to pretend to be exes for a new show that's bound to bring a larger audience to the station. Though the two are initially hesitant to maintain a lie in the public eye, they go along with it because neither wants to lose their job. This new show, The Ex Talk, offers the perfect opportunity to get to know each other and build on the undeniable chemistry in their rivalry-tinged relationship.

The main reason this book worked so well for me is because of the dynamic between Shay and Dominic. The tension and chemistry between them felt very natural and there was plenty of snappy dialogues between the two which make for some grin-worthy moments. In my original mini-review for The Ex-Talk, I called it a banter-ific (made-up word, yes) book and that's still one of the most memorable aspects of the book for me. It's delightful to watch Shay and Dominic go back and forth, and then eventually, fall in love. Rachel Lynn Solomon can write a mean kiss and I was very much swooning at all the steamy scenes in this book, especially when it involved Dominic Yun and his neck kisses. I also found it refreshing that Shay was the more sexually experienced one of the two. Their relationship definitely had some looming tension in the form of the blatant lie their show/podcast is based on, but it was handled well for me and when the third-act breakup showed up, I understood the characters' motivations. Plus, I love a third-act breakup that leads to an excellent grovel scene. 

Dominic and Shay were also just good, relatable people. I don't know if this is the right way of describing it, but they felt like normal, average individuals to me. They have career goals, have fears and insecurities that didn't seem to be dramatized. I think many readers will see bits and pieces of themselves in Shay and Dominic's characters. I especially liked how Rachel Lynn Solomon wrote their respective loneliness because I saw much of my own loneliness in them. Friendship and family are also handled beautifully in The Ex Talk - Shay's friendship with Ameena and their conflict in the book was a storyline that felt so authentic and painted the intricacies of adult friendships. The podcast aspect of this book was equally fantastic. I loved all the little insertions of the scripts we got to see throughout the book - it was wonderful and I would totally listen to it if it were real!

I know it's only January, but The Ex Talk is already a contender for my top 2021 reads. If you're looking for a fresh take on the fake relationship trope, this is a must-read!

Relationship disclosure: Rachel Lynn Solomon and I are mutuals on social media. This does not affect my rating and review of the book.


Hi, all! 

I'm thrilled to welcome Rachel to chat about her new release, The Ex Talk. I hope you enjoy this interview and learn a thing or two about the book.

Can you describe Shay and Dominic in The Ex Talk to readers of the blog using GIFs and a sentence or two?


Shay is a longtime lover of public radio and storytelling who feels a bit stuck in her career. She's worked as a producer for a decade but longs to be on the air, and she's on a dating hiatus because she always says "I love you" first and too soon. A few chapters into the book, she adopts a small disaster of a rescue dog.

Dominic is the station's newest hotshot reporter. He has a grumpy exterior but soft core, believes public radio is for news and news only, and collects cast-iron cookware. He also has a secret Beanie Baby collection.

We've seen fake-dating in romance books before, but fake-exes is a refreshing and new concept. How did the idea of a fake-exes story between Shay and Dominic come about? What was the most challenging part about having to write this plotline especially with regards to their jobs?

The fake exes element was entirely inspired by the title of the book! I initially pitched a different public radio book to my agent, and while she was on board with it, she thought it might not have a strong enough hook. A brainstorming session with a friend yielded this title, and making the characters fake exes instead of real exes felt like it could be a fun twist. The most challenging part was writing fake exes into the world of journalism, where truth is paramount. While there's some suspension of disbelief—public radio would likely not air this kind of show, haha —it was important to me that Shay and Dominic never feel fully comfortable with their lie.

 A radio show/podcast plays a big role in The Ex Talk. What is something fun you discovered while researching radio shows/podcasts? If you had a podcast of your own, what would be its focus and name?

Many of the radio details came from my history in public radio, so a lot of my research was focused on the current podcast market and how the field has changed since I was actively part of it. One fun fact is that podcasts have been around since 2004! I actually did have a (very) short-lived storytelling podcast in college called The Bark and the Bite—my school's mascot was a husky. If I created one today, it would probably focus on books in some way! Let's call it Reading with Rachel 😂

You explore many relationships in The Ex Talk and I particularly loved the relationship you wrote between Shay and her best friend, Ameena - I'm a sucker for good female friendships in books. What is one aspect of their relationship you would want readers to take away from?

Thank you so much! While The Ex Talk is primarily a romance, I also wanted to explore the reality of shifting millennial friendships. Shay worries Ameena is outgrowing her, with a long-term relationship and potential new job in another state, and that digs up a lot of insecurities Shay has tried to keep buried. Writing this friendship helped me unpack some things in my own life, and if it's a friendship readers see themselves in, I hope they realize they're not alone, and that navigating friendships doesn't instantly become easy when we reach adulthood.

The Ex Talk is your first adult romance. How was this different from writing YA? What can we expect next from you in the future in the adult romance world?

The biggest difference was the amount of independence my main characters have. In The Ex Talk, the protagonist can easily get herself from place to place, owns a house, and is (mostly) financially independent. The romantic stakes are also a little higher, since she thinks about marriage occasionally. I'm working on another journalism workplace romcom at the moment, and I can't wait to share more about it!

Many thanks to Rachel for stopping by! I can't wait to read this next rom-com! :)

Let's chat!

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Let me know in the comments below!

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