“How novel,” she said. “This is perhaps the first time two women seen together weren’t labeled gal pals.”
I knew I was either going to love Something to Talk About or hate it, with no in between. On the one hand, as a lesbian in a long term relationship with an older woman, I’m a sucker for age gap romances. I’ve loved them since I was a teenager printing Miranda/Andy (from The Devil Wears Prada) fanfiction out in my school library and racing to snag it before anyone else could see. On the other hand, I’m too impatient for most slow burns, and extended mutual angst/pining drives me up a wall. Something to Talk About has all of those things, but in the end, everything must have balanced out because I genuinely loved this book!
I binged Something to Talk About within a twenty-four hour period (oops!). To be honest, I think I would have enjoyed this book even if there hadn’t been a romance plotline (though I’m unendingly grateful there was), because I loved Jo and Emma’s dynamic from the start, even when it was still purely professional. Once the two leads began to recognize their feelings for each other, the extended, angst-ridden mutual pining was broken up by scenes with two hilarious supporting characters: Avery (Emma’s snarky but fiercely supportive older sister) and Evelyn (Jo’s pithy lifelong best friend). These scenes also provided a fun contrast between the way our leads behaved around each other vs. how they relaxed when interacting with loved ones. I’m tempted to start a petition for Wilsner to write a spin-off novel where Evelyn and Avery have to plan Jo & Emma’s wedding as the brides’ respective Maids of Honor, because it would be hilarious.
Something to Talk About was already on my radar, but my friend Dom’s Goodreads review is what finally pushed me to read it. Dom did an excellent job of addressing the concern many readers will have about a boss/employee romance novel in the #MeToo era, so rather than trying to reinvent the wheel I’m going to quote that section of their review:
“One thing that stands out to me is how this novel handles power dynamics and consent. […] This novel does deal with a definite mentor/mentee romance, but Wilsner takes great pains to navigate the situation with the imbalance in mind. At no point did I make the human facial equivalent of the unamused emoji at my pages; in fact, it was so comforting to see an interaction style I love handled in such a graceful way. Jo and Emma are both aware of the complications them deepening their relationship could cause.”
A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
Final Thoughts: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner was a fun, easy read that’s perfect for Pride or any other month of the year! I would definitely recommend giving it a chance, even if you (like me) aren’t usually a fan of slow burn romances!
Something to Talk About At a Glance:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Themes/Tropes: Slow Burn, Mistaken for Dating, Mutual Pining, Age Gap (> 10 years), Mentor/Mentee (with care taken re: power imbalances)
LGBT Rep? Yep! Our two leads are Emma, who is bisexual, and Jo, a closeted older lesbian.
OwnVoices? Yes, OwnVoices queer
Content Warnings (CW): Sexual harassment
Note: Thank you to Berkley Publishing and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.