Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Oof. Y’all? I simply was not digging this one.

I’ve literally been reading Happy Endings for a straight month, month and a half now? And it’s not even that long of a book. Just over 300 pages dudes. I have some thoughts.

Two years ago, Andre left a five year relationship in New Orleans with Trixie using a sticky note. Naturally, she vows to hate him, moves on, and starts working towards owning her own business in DC. But now, at a pop up for her business selling sex toys, she’s reunited with Andre…and he might have better reasons for leaving her than she thought. But will his stubbornness and her own drive to succeed keep them apart yet again?

I hate how stupid my synopsis for this book sounds but like, it is kind of rough. That’s harsh, actually. I always envision the writers reading my reviews and then I cringe. But, as the reader, I have to tell you honestly that I did not enjoy this story. I think the dialogue was very clunky, the characters inauthentic and childish, and despite literally all of it’s best efforts, the main character unfeminist. And here’s why.

Starting with clunky dialogue: from the very beginning, this book has some predictable lines. I think it’s part of what makes it such “easy” reading; the characters don’t have a very complex way of speaking, and it definitely ruins the story a little bit. With the majority of the romances I read, part of what helps you fall into them is that these characters are built so well and are so well rounded as created by the author. Their spoken words in addition to their inner thoughts contribute to the complexity. This lacks that element. It would have benefitted from some heavy editing in the first few chapters, as the dialogue becomes a bit more natural the further you read, and the more the characters grow into themselves (emphasis on a bit).

As a side note, the narration style also contributes to this. It’s third person omniscient, instead of first person like the majority of the romances I read (even if there are two different characters who have the first person narration). Normally this would be fine, but it’s done poorly. It flips back and forth between which character we’re focusing in on in any given scene, so it can be quite confusing. The way I’m used to this style being used, they would at least denote a change in focus with a break in the lines, but this would go from one paragraph to the next to dive into each person’s inner thoughts. This, too, could have benefitted from an editor.

Next, inauthentic and childish characters: when it comes to inauthentic, I think that’s where the clunky dialogue comes into play. They don’t even feel like real characters because everything that comes out of their mouths sounds like it was stolen from a nineties era romcom. But for childish, I come back to Lyssa Kay Adams’ whole perspective on romance storytelling (if we all talked things out like adults, imagine how much better relationships would be and how few romance tropes we’d have left??). This was 100% the case here. I sense a lot of selfishness in Andre, and while I don’t discount Trixie’s desire to follow her dreams, she’s not exactly a problem-solver either. Throughout the book, they hide things from one another and from other characters that could actually help them communicate better, or they avoid talking about their feelings but then judge the other for doing the same. It’s incredibly frustrating, and I don’t think it improves terribly by the end. Which is why I was left so unsatisfied with the way it did end.

As you can see, the premise is kind of that these characters had already been together, for a very long time, in fact, and then split in a nasty way due to ~bad communication~ (shocker). Then, they grow as people, and end up back together (minor spoiler, I guess). Following the romance story trope, naturally we reach the climax and something goes ~awry~ (and in a shocking turn of events: it’s due to bad communication). I can’t help but feel that maybe two attempts was enough attempts? Maybe it’s not working for y’all, seeing as we can’t seem to talk about feelings long enough to avoid splitting up altogether? Maybe that’s just me (and Lyssa Kay Adams. And every romance reader ever).

And lastly: Trixie is not as feminist as she makes herself out to be. Neither is Andre, like at all, but he is irrelevant to my point because Trixie is actually positioned as our resident feminist, and I’m just. Not. Feeling it. Running a sex toy business, wanting to be a sex therapist, being sex positive, being a part of a group of female business owners supporting one another literally called the Boss Babes (yes, this is cringey, and such a clear attempt to say LOOK AT ME I’M A FEMINIST!!)…Trixie is “quintessentially” what we consider a strong female heroine, and what we desire in a romance character. But I have to disagree here, just a tad. Andre is a controlling prick (pardon my language!). Trixie gives him a lot of chances he doesn’t deserve. Not to mention, Trixie repeatedly keeps things from her friends and family, like an emotional constipation, which I consider to be far more masculine of a trait and not what we consider to be a strength of being female, which is to be more in touch with one’s emotions, because I think it helps us find better solutions. This tends to be part of my own feminist dogma. We as women don’t need to act more like men to receive the respect we deserve. Traits we naturally possess that have been totally discounted by men over a period of years actually have value, and we should view them as such. Communication and sharing one’s feelings, being vulnerable, is typically viewed as feminine and invaluable, but would’ve been a great benefit here, as well as everywhere else in society. Anyways, after this giant rant here, I think you would see exactly what I am trying to say about how Trixie is positioned in the book with the outright propaganda versus the way she actually acts and treats herself and others.

I had absolutely no idea I had this much to say about this book, but clearly it sparked some sort of rage in me for taking up so much of time. Consider yourselves saved. Sorry for the super long review of a book that I assure you, you do not need to read. The only reason I am allowing it to have two stars instead of just one is because I did find myself picking out matches between a few of the background characters, who I actually liked a great deal more than our main characters. I can’t deny my desire to hear their stories, even if this was poorly written, so it can keep an extra star.

I hope you all have a fantastic week, weekend, etc, friends. 🙂

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