In author Thien-Kim Lam’s debut novel, titled Happy Endings, protagonist Trixie Nguyen finds herself unwittingly thrown together with her ex-boyfriend, Andre Walker. Despite their tangled romantic history, fraught with miscommunication and things left unsaid, they must team up and work together to keep their respective businesses afloat. Oh, and Trixie sells sex toys.
I appreciated Lam’s portrayal of an Asian romance novel heroine that is a grown woman and not an angsty YA novel character. (Though no shade to those characters — I enjoy YA as well!) I’m also incredibly pleased by the diversity represented in this book— Trixie is Vietnamese, and Andre is Black, and the supporting characters in the book also represent a wide variety of backgrounds. This type of representation is still, despite it being 2021, relatively rare in mainstream media, much less mainstream romance novels. When it is present, it’s often presented in a tokenized way. I think Happy Endings is a great addition to the diversity and authentic representation so sorely needed within the Chick Lit, Romance, and Erotica genres.
Lam includes many nods to her Vietnamese background, including not-so-subtle references to the culture clash children of immigrants (particularly Asian immigrants), face here in America. As a 1st generation Asian-American myself, I felt quite seen in those moments. Like Trixie, I’ve felt torn between familial piety— that sense of duty that comes with growing up in a more or less traditional Asian household — and my very own American dream and the hangups that come with that bag of bones. I might not sell sex toys for a living, but yup, I glimpsed a piece of myself in Trixie’s character. However, these cultural nuances were explored only superficially, happening mostly during mildly cliched moments of exposition. I wanted more!
I so very much wanted to love this book, but instead, I find that I only liked it, and primarily so for the diversity and representation this book brings to the English-language Contemporary Romance table. While the plot didn’t quite capture my attention early on, I felt the story and characters had developed enough to be adequately entertaining by the time I got to the halfway point.
The storyline surrounding Andre and Trixie’s relationship served mainly one purpose— and that was to provide something around which Lam could write sex scenes. Those scenes were hot as hell, and if you’re into steamy romances, this will do it for you. Ultimately, the sometimes-awkward scene transitions and dialogue left me wanting more of a balance between the graphic sex scenes and meaningful storytelling.
But let’s take this at face value and let’s not dig too deep.
Happy Endings is a sexy, steamy Erotica novel, so if you like hot scenes and you’ve got the room on your list for a fast evening read, this is for sure worth a download. Pair this book with a Pants of Fire Appletini, the recipe for which you’ll find in the back of this book, and you’ve got yourself a night.
Content warning: Happy Endings is a smutty sex-fest, and, well, you better be into hot, steamy sex scenes if you’re going to read this one.
I received an advanced reviewer’s copy from Avon Books for the purpose of providing my honest thoughts about this title. Happy Endings comes out on May 18, 2021. Pre-order it at Amazon or at the links below.
Where to find Happy Endings
Publication Date: May 18, 2021