This review was originally posted on The Geeky Waffle. It has been reposted here with permission.
In her second novel, Full Exposure, author Thien-Kim Lam takes us down to New Orleans for a sweet love story that expresses both the importance of creativity, and the true joy that comes from someone there to support that creativity, and help you foster it.
The story follows Josie, a photographer from DC who finds herself with a week off in New Orleans after a client cancels on her at the last second. While checking out a Mardi Gras parade, she manages to grab a string of beads. Her victory is short-lived, however, when she loses her balance and winds up swinging the beads right into the head of Spencer, a New Orleans local and aspiring filmmaker.
Despite losing his phone and getting a massive bruise in the process (how heavy are Mardi Gras beads??), Spencer is immediately smitten with Josie, and the two embark on a week-long fling while ostensibly trying to see if they can collaborate on a joint film-photography project.
As a complete personal aside, this is absolutely the kind of book to avoid reading when hungry, especially if you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine like I am.
While the novel is undeniably a romance, it devotes a lot of time to who Josie and Spencer are as individuals, both dealing with perceived pressures from their families and hesitant to make a go of things at the risk of disappointing themselves or their loved ones. As so many of us now walk that line between sensible choices and ones driven by our passions, this aspect in particular felt extremely relatable.
The romance itself felt a little lower key than in Lam’s first book Happy Endings. The desire to find a way to be together motivated both Spencer and Josie, yes, but more than anything else, their relationship fell into a kind of easy, supportive dynamic that made it feel like they had been together a lot longer than just a few days. The romantic arc was still there, of course, but shaped a little differently this time around, with personal motivations and romantic ones both tightly would together in a sweet little package.
Full Exposure is out February 21, 2023. Special thank you to Avon for the advance copy for review purposes.