Sweet Talk by Cara Bastone
April 22, 2021 by Audible Originals
Reviewed by Melinda
Sweet Talk is the follow up to Call Me Maybe, which was also an Audible Original by Cara Bastone. I’m not sure if there are other series that have been originals like this in the romance area because I haven’t followed many beyond Alyssa Cole and now Bastone. I know Alyssa has mentioned The A.I Who Love Me will be a series as well but I can’t think of any others.
As an audible production, the production value is seriously amazing. About 70% of the books I’ve read this year have been audiobooks so I have a decent idea of what to expect in an audiobook. But an Audible original really does bring one to the next level. When a character is supposed to be walking down the street there are muffled car horns, there are ambient background noises of other people talking if they’re in a crowd, or a fire alarm if one is going off in the story. But these are not overdone or distracting – if anything, they really add to the story, and help immerse one into the world Bastone is building.
Like I said, Sweet Talk is the follow up to Call Me Maybe, but absolutely can be read on its own. Elliott is the brother to the MC from Call Me Maybe and close to the end of this one we realize how they overlap and like with any romance there’s just something so satisfying about it and getting to peer into Elliott’s viewpoint of things that happened.
Sweet Talk begins with a wrong number text and Elliot doesn’t know who is on the other end, even after Jessie corrects him. And we know that Jessie doesn’t want him to know who she is, but the readers don’t know who she is either for roughly 25% of the book. Somehow Bastone makes this work, even though this sounds overly complicated when I try to explain it. The moment we get the realization of who Jessie is in relation to Elliot was like a lightbulb going off and I was excited, not trepidatious, about how it was going to go from there.
I love the handling of Elliot’s learning disabilities – he’s dyslexic and has found ways to cope with the real world, and make things work for him. This felt so real to me as I know many people who do this and these details made the book shine for me. Jessie is just as great with her complete badass exterior and marshmallow interior. The connection between the two felt so electric and built up throughout the development of their relationship.
The part that made me nervous was the reasoning behind all of it? Why doesn’t Jessie want Elliot to know who she is? They make it clear they know each other IRL but that Jessie has reason to believe Elliot would not be happy that their budding relationship (completely via text/phone calls) is with her. I don’t love secrets in books for the most part – but many romances revolve around one in one way or another. My level of acceptance of that really depends on how well executed that is.
I would have liked a bit more space after the reveal, to get more of them working through that. But even with those caveats I loved this. The romance worked for me so much. The narration was fantastic – Lidia Dornet and Chris Brinkley perform it in conversational style and dual POV which is perfect for this book. I highly recommend this – there are a few darker themes running throughout this, but I was unsurprised as her other books do have heavier topics mixed in there as well.
CW: robbery with gun, heroine’s father has terminal cancer, alcoholism