Romance simmers behind the scenes in Meryl Wilsner's queer romance novel "Something to Talk About"
Like the Bonnie Rait song that inspired the book’s title, the heroines in Meryl Wilsner’s Something to Talk About laugh just a little too loud, stand just a little too close, and stare just a little too long. This is a story about two women who are obviously in love but don’t recognize that themselves. When showrunner Jo Jones brings her assistant Emma Kaplan to the SAG awards, rumors that they are dating start to fly. These rumors cause them to reevaluate how they feel about each other. The best part of this book is watching them slowly figure out that they’ve been in love this whole time. It’s one of the slower slow-burns I’ve read outside of fanfiction, which is not at all a bad thing. You will be yelling “Just kiss!” at this book long before it gives you what you want. The frustration only adds to the fun. When they finally get together, the book sizzles.
This book is an absolute romp. It’s a beautiful glimpse into a Hollywood fantasy. I spent most of the book mentally begging the characters to realize that they loved each other - which is exactly what I want out of a slow burn. I was rooting for these women all the way and the payoff was amazing, although brief enough to make me long for a sequel.
The book alternates from Emma’s perspective to Jo’s and back again. Emma is a Jewish bisexual, and Jo is a (closeted) Chinese-American lesbian. Both these characters - as well as the various side characters - felt fully realized and whole. We get to know both Jo and Emma through their relationships with their friends and family. Jo’s best friend, Evelyn, is particularly delightful
Something to Talk About handles a few tricky topics with grace, the first being the age gap between the two characters. Jo is fifteen years older than Emma - but I never felt like they were anything less than equals. Even if you don’t like to read age-gap romance, you might enjoy this book. Consent is deeply important in Something to Talk About. Jo constantly worries about taking advantage of her assistant, and the power dynamic is handled incredibly well - no lines are ever crossed. The #MeToo movement is also touched on in a wonderful subplot that I wished was given more time.
My one complaint with the book is that I wish there was more of it. There’s a lot of glorious build-up, but the payoff, while sweet, is short. However, the book is fantastic and I’ll definitely re-read it at some point. I hope to see more from Meryl Wilsner in the future.
Something to Talk About comes out on May 26th, from Berkley Books.