Review of ‘Something to talk about’ by Meryl Wilsner
This lesbian workplace romance book caught my attention when it was the only wlw novel nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 in the romance category. In these last couple of years, mainstream publishers have started publishing more lesbian romances than ever. Olivia Waite’s ‘Feminine Pursuits’ series, Alexandra Bellefleur ‘Written in the Stars‘ and this one, among others. This tendency is more than welcome to lesfic readers and I hope that will mean that this genre stops being a restricted niche to become more widely enjoyed.
Jo Jones is a famous screenwriter and producer who likes keeping her personal life private. So when rumours about a romance start after she’s photographed making her assistant laugh on the red carpet, she decides to stick to her “no comments” policy and wait for the gossip to disappear. But as time goes by, both women start to realise that the rumours might be based on reality after all…
‘Something to talk about’ hits a lot of different successful tropes such as workplace romance, celebrity/commoner, opposites attract, ice queen, and age-gap relationship. It definitely aims to attract different fans of these subgenres. It reminded me a little of Lee Winter’s books but lacking in the chemistry and tension departments. However, as this is a debut novel, it is promising for this author’s future.
As a fan of some of those romance tropes, I was expecting some of the marks that make them so successful. For example, ice queens are so popular because readers love seeing them thaw for a special person. Combined with the tension and buildup of the slow burn, it makes the journey to the happy ending so much worth it. For me, this is where the book doesn’t deliver properly, there are so many twists and turns, so much focus on difficult issues, and a lot of miscommunication, that the tension buildup cooled off as the book progressed to its resolution. As a result, the chemistry between the mains doesn’t reach high levels and the end feels a bit anti-climatic.
The novel does raise interesting issues such as sexual harassment, racism, sexism and gender inequalities, but maybe there were too many issues that made it hard to focus on all of them and, at the same time, keep the build-up of tension in the romance.
I listened to the audiobook version but it was a bit of a letdown for me. To start with, I’m not sure the reasons behind choosing two narrators instead of one. It rarely ends up well because the voices of the same characters change as the narrators switch, as well as the overall narrative tone and pace. Maybe the only exception to the rule I know is ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo‘ with three narrators. As ‘Something to talk about’ is narrated from both main characters’ pov alternating every two chapters, I get that the audio producer wanted to give Emma’s voice a youthful tone and Jo’s a more mature one, but for me, it acted as a disruption to the unity of the narrative. I wasn’t awed with the performance of the narrators either who, in my opinion, did just an average job. 3.5 stars.
Lenght: 9hours, 7 minutes