By Thien-Kim Lam
Rating: 3.5/5 Genre: Contemporary Romance Steam: Explicit/Descriptive/Multiple References Publisher: Avon Books Pub Date: May 18, 2021 Thank you Avon Books for my Advanced Copy! You're the best! Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop
Happy Endings Synopsis: Trixie Nguyen is ready to take her sex toy business to the next level and start a shop all of her own. The only thing standing in her way is snatching the lead in the sales competition to get that 10k to fund her dream. Needing to come up with events to sell at she partners up at her friend’s restaurant. Andre Walker is doing his best to keep his mother’s restaurant alive with the help of his sister. They need more customers and fast. The last person he expected to see in his restaurant is Trixie, his ex from New Orleans. After a messy breakup neither of them is wanting to work together, but when they figure out that they can mutually benefit from this combination professionally, feelings be damned. But when the chemistry from the past starts sizzling through, maybe there’s a second chance and a happy ending for all of them.
Happy Endings Review
I was so excited to read this book. First, the synopsis sounds amazing! Sex positive, DC, romance, OwnVoice, soul food?! Hell yes, sign me up. Second, the author, Thien-Kim Lam, runs a subscription box with romance novels and sex toys, so like it has to be legit good. Third, this was my first physical ARC (woooo!) so thank you Avon Romance, Thien-Kim Lam, and Jessica for sending it my way.
Like I said, I was excited to read this book and really looking forward to falling in love with it. But, honestly, it wasn’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong there were parts that I loved, but there were also parts that left me wanting more.
The communal relationships written in this book feel like a hug from a grandparent. The way that Lam captures the communities she’s writing about and makes it feel like your at home is wonderful. I kept hoping I’d open my front door and one of the old ladies was there commenting on my life, but alas there was not. Also, Keisha you are the star of this book and I love you forever. If Lam writes another novel and it’s about her I would be forever thankful!
The food. I’m just going to admit that I had to google and then make a quick run to get gumbo and shrimp etouffee to fulfill the need that this book gave me. All the descriptions of food were the bomb. I want to go eat at Mama Hazel’s so badly!
I loved the elements of sex positivity in this novel. Especially the fact that Trixie was teaching people about sex and selling toys that made people’s lives better. I loved how unabashedly passionate Trixie was about it. Love, love, love.
I really enjoyed the first half of the novel. It was great. I found the plot to be interesting, the characters were setting themselves up nicely, and things were running pretty smoothly (albeit a few issues that will be discussed below). But then the second half started. One of my bigger issues with books in general is when they start pulling out miscommunication issues left and right and they start making characters have issues with things they didn’t before. This book goes there. So, maybe that’s a me issue, but I just didn’t enjoy the plethora of communication issues Andre and Trixie had in the latter half. It felt over the top and unnecessary.
The dialogue/writing felt repetitive at times and not natural. For much of the book it felt like it was the same three things out of Trixie or Andre’s mouth. There was little communication between the two that would imply they knew each other or in love. It was just the same three things. And the dialogue didn’t even try to move the story. I wanted something a bit more natural and not near as stagnant. There was little bantering and just overall felt like a weak part of the story.
Trixie’s job felt off to me. Is she part of a MLM? It felt like it. And how did she expect to get out from underneath their thumb as a sales representative to her own shop? Would her shop be more of a franchise? Did she just plan on ditching her sales group and then going off on her own? Wouldn’t there be legal ramifications? I know, a lot of questions you can’t answer, but these were fairly large plot holes that I came across that were never fully addressed.
Lack of background. So this book attempts at creating a second chance romance with enough baggage for both characters in the past. I appreciate that. But so much of it isn’t fully addressed. WTF was Trixie and Andre’s relationship in New Orleans? Like how were they that bad at communicating and then do the same thing again in DC and expect it to work? I just felt like this was super under addressed. I also felt like Trixie’s background needed more fleshing out. There were occasional phone calls with her mother, but a flashback or two would have significantly helped make her a more sympathetic character. I was told about the strained relationship and even shown a tiny bit, but more showing was necessary to really pull my heartstrings and I definitely could have used it in this novel.
Long Story Short:
Do I recommend this book? You know, honestly, yes. I feel like this book will be fairly well received. It reminded me of a Jasmine Guillory novel (my review) or on the same line as Faker by Sarah Smith (my review). Those weren’t my favorite novels, but I know that they are super popular with others. I don’t want to discount this novel because I did enjoy many parts, but it just failed in sucking me in and keeping the momentum. I do look forward to Thien-Kim Lam continuing to write and I do want to read her future novels (especially if one is about Keisha!!!). And I really love that there is a move to have more OwnVoice and diverse novels published because it is SO needed in the book world.
And thank you to Avon Books for providing me with an advanced copy of the novel. My opinions and thoughts of the book are totally those of my own and were not persuaded by receiving the free copy. Thank you!