Thursday, January 21, 2021

Isn't It Romantic?

The Ex Talk

Rachel Lynn Solomon
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Berkley 
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon's sparkling romantic comedy debut.

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.
Shay had a fantastic idea for new show. A relationship show hosted by exes. Brilliant, right? The only problem was she and her co-host had never actually dated. Given the choice of faking it or unemployment, Shay chose the show, but while pretending to be his ex, she caught some real feelings. 

I am a die-hard fan of Solomon's YA books. I had really high hopes for this one, and it surpassed all my expectations. I expected it to be fun and swoony with snappy banter, but I didn't expect it hit me so hard emotionally. That, my friends, is why I this book gets all the stars. 

One reason this book was perfection was the characters, who I believe people will find hard to resist. Shay had so much passion for public radio, which was something she shared with her late father. Though he had been gone for a decade, Shay still felt that hole in her life, and she plugged it up by working, a lot. Dominic was the wet behind the ears earnest news reporter, who Shay had declared an enemy early on. Getting to know them both was a pleasure. These were complex and layered characters, and I found so many reasons to love them. 

Together, they were spectacular. I loved the tension between them, and their interactions delighted me to no end, but they also had these backstories, which made me love them more. Both struggled with loneliness, and Solomon did an incredible job capturing this, especially with Shay. I found myself moved to tears at some points, because I ached for her, while also relating really hard to what she was feeling. 

Though we don't get to spend any time in Dominic's head, there were many times in the story, where he shared his fears and pain, while being extremely vulnerable. He was open, where Shay was very closed off, and each new reveal endeared him more and more to me. 

I can't get my mind off this wonderful romance, but there was more to adore in this book. It was interesting learning so much about the radio and podcast industry, and I loved that Solomon included bits of the show as well as pieces of their social media. The tweets, the promotion, the podcast, the convention - it was fascinating and took my reading experience to the next level. 

This book was simply a joy to read! It had so much humor, heart, and warmth and made me feel SO much, that my heart overflowed with joy. 


Then There Was You

Mona Shroff
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HQN
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
The wrong man never felt so right.

When helicopter medic Daniel Bliant answers an emergency call at Phil’s Bar, he can’t believe who the bartender is: the beautiful woman he saw in his ER months before and hasn’t been able to stop thinking about. He should forget her. After all, he knows he’s damaged goods. But Annika is intelligent, fun and totally stunning—the breath of life he desperately needs after the incident that left him shattered.

Annika Mehta is doing just fine. She loves her job as a kindergarten teacher, even if the pay is low and she has a side gig working at Phil’s. At least the bar owners are more like family. Sure, she’s reeling from a bad breakup and the terrible event that caused it, but she’s fine. Really. What she doesn’t need is Daniel. He’s wrong for her in every single way—so why is their chemistry off the charts?
After suffering a tremendous loss, Daniel buried himself in work in order to avoid moving forward. He felt like there wasn't much the future had to offer him until he met Annika. She also knew what loss was, but would this connection be enough for him to open his heart again?

Like Shroff's pervious book, Then, Now, Always, this book was really emotional. I won't lie, it was super painful at times. I shed tears, my heart ached, but I found comfort in seeing these characters find some solace in each other as they worked to heal in their own way, at their own pace. There were people who surprised me along the way as well, especially Annika's father, and it was these things that touched my heart. 

If I am making this sound like the pain Olympics, shame on me, because Shroff sprinkled this story with moments of joy throughout. She took us to some wonderful Indian celebrations and shared some really fun, sweet, and tender moments between Daniel and Annika. I did feel there were those bright moments to balance the darker ones (death, racism, shootings, etc) and found them very necessary as I waded through this couple's pain. Though both had lost so much, I found myself more devastated by Daniel's story, and therefore, was very invested in his journey. It was a difficult one, but one worth taking with him. 

For me, this was a story about loss, love, and healing. It was about finding that strength to go on, when it seemed as though everything had been taken from you. It was about choosing to lean on someone, to share the burden, even when that support came from an unlikely source. It was about allowing yourself to take a chance, to love again, regardless of your fear of loss. 

Overall: A tough, but beautiful journey through grief and loss, which was topped off with a heartwarming ending that left me smiling.  

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Do you have a favorite radio show or podcast?
Let us know in the comments!

34 comments:

  1. Lovely reviews, thanks for sharing your thoughts

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  2. I've been seeing so many good reviews for The Ex Talk, I definitely need to add it to my TBR!

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    1. If I wasn't already an RLS fan, I would be one after that book. Hope you get to read it

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  3. Hooray for a 5 star read! Love the sound of the romance between those two, and how fun to have pieces of the show and social media posts.

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    1. I am always there for mixed format in a book, and these bits were used well and fit the story.

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  4. I have heard the best things about The Ex Talk, not sure I will grab it up, but I am definitely intrigued and added it to my wishlist. Happy to see you give it such a high rating.

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    1. I was already a Solomon fan, so it wasn't a hard sell for me. Still, I was impressed with her adult debut.

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  5. Glad to hear you really enjoyed both of these. The Ex-Talk sounds really fun, and I love that it includes some of the podcast and social media, etc.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. It's a romance, but fully set in the world of public radio and all the surrounding social media. I liked the way Solomon wove it all in

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  6. I reviewed The Ex Talk today too and adored it! Solomon's characters were really well written and I loved how she was able to portray Dominic's more vulnerable moments despite never having a perspective from him.

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    1. Yeah! I love hearing you enjoyed it. Good point. Though I wouldn't scoff at getting inside his head, I did feel like I understood him.

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  7. Everyone seems to be raving about The Ex-Talk. I'm glad you liked it, too. I do have one question -- is it in first or third person POV? I'm tempted to read it.

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    1. Single, first POV. Shay tells the story, but Solomon did a great job crafting Dominic and I felt like I knew him even though I did not get his perspective.

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  8. I can never get enough romance novels in my life! The Ex talk is one that I have had my eye on and you have me super excited for it. So glad to hear that you enjoyed both of these. :)

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    1. It was fantastic! I hope you get a chance to read it, and if you enjoyed RLS's last book, I think you would like this one too

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  9. I'm hearing a lot of good things about The Ex talk!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  10. I loved The Ex Talk too. It was such a fun read and I adored both Shay and Dominic. They had such great chemistry.

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    1. They really did. It was a great couple with a fantastic dynamic

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  11. Okay, The Ex Talk sounds fantastic! I am going to need that one. It sounds like I need to try Mona Shroff's book.

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    1. I will be screaming about The Ex Talk until RLS's next adult release. It was fantastic! I hope you get a chance to read it

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  12. I'm so thrilled to see your 5 stars for The Ex Talk! I got a copy last minute after seeing Anne's praise. Now I just need to carve out some time to read it.

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  13. glad you enjoyed these so much. great reviews
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Thanks! One was more heartbreaking than the other, but both were great

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  14. I never knew what The Ex Talk was about and that is the cutest premise ever, I need to add that one to my tbr!
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

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    1. It was so fun! I want everyone to read this book

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  15. Gosh Sam! You are so bad! I am on a book buying ban but you are tempting me so much with The Ex Talk!!! Bad, bad Sam!

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    1. Ex Talk is worth every penny. Have you read any of Solomon's other books? It's that quality, but more fun.

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  16. The Ex Talk sounds absolutely brilliant! I love that the author packed in so much more into the story than just a romance (which sounds awesome on its own).

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    1. It checked all the boxes for me. If I wasn't already a fan, I would have been won over by this book

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  17. Now I'm really excited to read The Ex Talk! Great review!
    Lisa Loves Literature

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    1. For me, it totally lived up to the hype. I hope you enjoy it

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