Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam
Trixie Nyugen is determined that her sex toy business is a success—she wants to set up her own boutique, teach people about sexual pleasure, and force her parents to accept she can be successful as an entrepreneur. However, when she runs into her ex, she finds that her heart is full of feelings she just can’t shake…and it might mean the end of her dreams. Or maybe, the beginning?
I really enjoyed this one!
The Goodreads ratings suck, which is a fucking shame because while Trixie and Andre’s relationship outside of the steaming hot sex was a bit underdeveloped and rushed (particularly towards the end), they had a shit ton of chemistry, and I loved the story itself.
I really, really liked this insight into being a small businessowner in DC—from Andre’s POV as the heir to a beloved soul food restaurant to Trixie starting up.
Both are battling gentrification and the past, but in different ways.
Andre is tackling his mother’s legacy, trying to preserve it and honor her (and his guilty feelings of not being there), along with his duties as the oldest son and man of the household (for his younger sister, who is twenty-six and not the baby he thinks she is). At the same time, he’s torn between maintaining the past and moving forward into the future. How can he honor his mother and put his own spin on recipes? Will his recipes change the restaurant? How will he keep them afloat and bring in more business to an area that is floundering the face of the gentrified district two blocks over?
Andre then, is stuck the past, and driven to prove himself to his community.
Trixie, on the other hand, is moving forward and trying to prove herself.
She’s found her footing at last, after failing pharmaceutical school, getting ghosted by her boyfriend of two years, and moving to DC from New Orleans. However, her footing is selling sex toys—an occupation her parents look down upon. But Trixie has a dream, a plan, and a solid group of friends.
While she understands the dangers of gentrification and how they remove the original occupants of a place for something “better” (hint: not better), she also sees how this process can also bring a kind of revitalization, if done with the original community’s interest in mind.
I loved, loved, loved how sex positive this book was.
Trixie is open, honest, funny and approaches sexual pleasure head on, with no embarrassment or sidelong looks. She is so dedicated to teaching women—particularly women of marginalized communities and of older generations—that sex is not taboo, and that sexual pleasure is their right, and sexual safety is something to be enjoyed and demanded.
Andre, on the other hand, is not as open-minded, particularly since he is scandalized by the thought of bringing sex toys into his mother’s restaurant, among his mother’s friends and the senior community (mild spoiler: they love it).
I really enjoyed the pop-ups, the meetings with the boss bitches, and everything else Trixie was doing to build a community—and integrate into an already established community—and pursue her dreams. She meets the community she’s gained where they are and provides what they need how they need it. She is the thoughtful outsider, coming in to help and not just profit or exploit.
The only downside was Andre’s complete character change in the final third of the book. It was a little much, out of character and driven to provide more tension for the final scenes. However, it did work (I just didn’t like it), although the ending is an absolute deus ex machina (and an answer to gentrification, although one that is rather unrealistic and implies more altruism than I feel people have).
Ultimately, however, this book was about community. How local businesses bring people together, how they knit together, and how children can carry on and improve upon their family’s legacies while also building something new just for themselves.
Definitely an engaging contemporary romance to read—particularly since the sex scenes were really, really hot.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Happy Endings releases May 18, 2021, from Avon