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Sunday, September 19, 2021

'The Heart Principle' The Kiss Quotient #3 by Helen Hoang


From the BLURB: 

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected - and the man she enlists to help her - in this heartfelt new romance by the bestselling author of The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang. 

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her long-time boyfriend announces that he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She's going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better. 

That's where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex-he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just begun to understand. 

However, when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that they also have to fight for themselves.

‘The Heart Principle’ is the third and final book in Helen Hoang’s loose contemporary romance trilogy, that started with ‘The Kiss Quotient’ and continued with ‘The Bride Test’. 

Hoang is also Actually Autistic, and each of her books features a neurodiverse hero (especially refreshing that in 2 of her books, it’s the female protagonists at various stages of their neurodiversity diagnosis that she explores). She also writes a full cast of API (Asian and Pacific Islander) characters, which sees these books having really full and rich focus on family and community that’s complimentary to the main romance plot. We see complicated daughter roles in ‘The Heart Principle’ in particular (and the most heartfelt author’s note from Hoang on this too, which had me in *tears*!), we’ve seen the immigrant experience explored, the working-woman narrative stress striving to “have it all,” and the pressure of body-image anxiety on men, as well as a character grappling with recovery after illness. 

For anyone who thinks romance as a genre doesn’t have these big, thoughtful discussions *anyway* - let Hoang be a gateway to your awakening because she does is extraordinarily well.

But you do stay for the romance - the heat and swoons, they’re all here. Tenfold. Hoang is one of the fastest rising stars in US-romance not just because she’s offered a breadth of experience and new viewpoints, but because she also writes exquisite build-up, focus on female pleasure and wonderfully frank discussions about sex and desire.

I do think 'The Kiss Quotient is still the stand-out greatest of the series, and 'Bride Test' is a slight dip in the middle - but 'Principle' brings it all back around and shows again why Hoang is one to watch in romance and will be an automatic-buy author for me, forevermore. 

She’s amazing. Read these books. Highly recommend.


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