Book: Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 18th, 2021
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When I heard about this book several months ago, I thought it sounded amazing. It follows a young woman named Trixie that sells sex toys, and is hoping to start her own sex toy boutique in the near future. When she hosts a pop up shop, she discovers that one of the owners of the store she’s working out of is her ex-boyfriend, Andre, who dumped her via post-it. As the two are forced by circumstance to spend more time together, they find that their feelings for one another might not be gone.
I assumed that this would be a sex-positive, second chance romance. I’ll be honest and say that second chance romances are one of my least favorite tropes, but I figured that the forced proximity would make up for it. And I adore sex-positive books, so that was another aspect that made me put aside my hesitation and pick this book up.
Unfortunately, this book did not resonate with me on any level. Even the aspects that I thought I would like were not handled well, and ultimately I ended up disliking almost every facet of the story. I normally start out by saying something positive about the book, but in this case I’m genuinely struggling. The one thing I will say is that a lot of my complaints are personal issues, so someone else may enjoy the book. I just very much did not.
If I had to sum up everything I didn’t appreciate about this book into one problem, it would be the lack of emotional depth. I say this because once I enumerate my issues with the book you’ll start noticing that as a theme.
To start with, we have the characters who were extremely one-dimensional. Starting with our main characters, Trixie and Andre, they were practically given a character description in the beginning of the book that they stuck to throughout the entire book. Trixie was a Strong Independent Sex Positive Woman TM. Andre was, well, Andre was a mess. Trixie was tolerable, but Andre was just a summation of every possible terrible trait a significant other could have wrapped up in one.
Objectifying the love interest? Check!
Incapable of communication? Check!
Thinking only of himself? Check!
I think you get the picture. Andre just was not likable to me. He hides important information about the restaurant that he owns from his sister, the co-owner to “protect her”. He gets angry at Trixie for something, won’t tell her what, gives her the silent treatment, and then decides to kiss her when Trixie asks what’s wrong?
Which is another thing. I am no stranger to steamy book. I love when there’s lots of smutty scenes, and even casual kisses and snuggling throughout the book. So technically I should have liked this book! There was so much physical affection! Except, it all came at a cost of communication. By which I mean there was no communication. The two of them would just tear off each other’s clothes whenever they were near one another. They’d kiss instead of talk. When Trixie wanted Andre to join her to go somewhere important to her, even after just claiming he wished Trixie would open up more and treat him more like a boyfriend, he tries to push off whatever Trixie had planned so they could just have sex instead. In fact, I don’t see why Andre cared so much about wanting Trixie and him to officially be boyfriend and girlfriend. All he seemed to ever want Trixie for was sex. Any time there was something deeper involved he pushed her away. So not only did I not ship the two of these characters, I actively disliked one of them by the end of this book!
This all goes back to what I was talking about earlier. This book did a whole lot of telling, but never enough showing. We were told that Andre was sweet, but there never were any actions to prove it. We were told Trixie was a strong independent woman, but that lacked nuance in its execution. Even Trixie’s friends, the Boss Babes, were friends in name only. They only had appeared when Trixie needed advice, or to move along the plot. I didn’t really understand why any of them were friends with one another because besides for knowing what their jobs were, we didn’t learn anything about the Boss Babes.
For me, it’s the little details that make a story. Yes, knowing that a character has always wanted a cat, but their mother was allergic so they never had one doesn’t add anything to the story, but it does add depth and background to a character. Sure, I don’t need to know why a character will never eat mint chocolate chip ice cream again after that one prank her best friend pulled, but it sure provides me an insight into the character dynamics. We never really got those moments in this book. Everything written was purposeful and specific and it showed. Maybe that doesn’t bother you, but it sure bothered me. It didn’t feel realistic, it felt like a screenplay. We were given all the actions and dialogue but nothing else. Because of that I wasn’t drawn towards the book whenever I put it down. In fact I even got bored at high tension scenes because I was so detached!
Now I can go into the some nitty gritty aspects of plot points that don’t make sense, but I won’t. Because had the rest of the book been enjoyable, I could have easily overlooked those parts. But there were too many things that I disliked and didn’t care for that lead to this being a two star read.
I know this is a debut, and I know I may have been a little harsh. I think this book had a lot of potential, and if none of the things I mentioned bother you, there’s no reason not to read it. I didn’t like it, but I have nothing against this book. Sometimes books work for you and sometimes they don’t. This one just didn’t work for me.