Cover Image: The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle

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Member Reviews

An absolute joy, I finished Helen Hoang’s latest title in less than 48 hours. My heart was immediately pulled into the relationship between Quan and Anna - I didn’t believe for a moment that it would ever be just a one night stand. They treat each other with respect and so much caring from the get go, and I got all the squishy feels. I also struggled so much with Anna’s family and her father’s situation. Her family was genuinely incredibly stressful to read about and I was mad until the end. 

Quan and Anna’s journeys to self acceptance were inspiring. And while the tone of this book was more serious than the first two (especially the father plot) it is was thoroughly enjoyable and worth a re-read.
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A heartfelt look into a newly diagnosed autistic women who has been “masking” her real self her entire life. Anna and Quan had great chemistry. Quan was  sexy and supportive with Anna while dealing with his own insecurities.
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What an absolutely stunning portrayal of a woman on the autistic spectrum eying to find a way to fit in with her family. This wasn’t my favorite book in this series but I understood the author’s need to write this book. I just felt so much for Anna and it broke my heart to watch her through Quan’s eyes as she dealt with her family’s expectations. Just overall a very moving story.
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This book was truly all over the place for me. I wish the author/editors had given everything some more time to coalesce into a tighter story.

On the one hand, the book is compelling and truly zips into one's eyeballs, and I have to give it credit for that. One the other hand, the reading is a bit of a whiplash experience. This book spans years, which feels unusual in a romance. But then also things happen, like Quan's ill-conceived spontaneous trip to run the rim-to-rim route around the Grand Canyon, that pass by in a flash.

I think my real issue with the book is that it starts in a no-win place for me. At the start, Anna's in a truly terrible relationship, while in the midst of professional problems shaking her to her core, while also plagued by mean family members. Her friends are internet friends she can text. I do believe internet friends are real friends, but also, there's a real limit to the support they can provide because they can only see a sliver of a situation. Anna does have a therapist but for big stretches of the book, she's not working with her.

I'm of the mind that when a love interest is the only good thing going in a character's life and the only source of comfort/solace/friendship, the story is going to suffer. When someone's so completely miserable as Anna is, it paints Quan into a corner. He has to be PERFECT to counteract all Anna's strife. Which in one sense, it's kinda fun to read someone so endlessly patient and loving, and on the other hand, we don't get a great journey out of his story. What we do get, his business saga, is completely uninteresting to me and feels thrown in to provide balance and to loop in other characters from the series.

What messiness Quan has is with his recovery from cancer, and the frankly toxic and transphobic feelings he has around that. But it doesn't affect his relationship much and the text doesn't really engage with those feelings in a way I found satisfying.

And as others will likely point out, there's a lot of stuff in here that might be tough to read, from encounters with the bad boyfriend Anna has at the start of the book, to the parental caretaking storyline that takes over the romance for a good portion of the book.

So yeah, all over the place!
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After skyrocketing to fame with a viral video, Anna finds herself struggling to play her violin, desperate to recreate what she believes people expect of her now: perfection. When her boyfriend decides he wants an open relationship, her hurt, anger, and frustration propel her to have a one-night stand. However, things don’t go according to plan once she meets her one-night stand hopeful, Quan Diep. After multiple failed attempts to go through with their one night only, Anna and Quan realize their connection is deeper than just surface-level attraction. But when tragedy strikes Anna’s family, the new responsibilities threaten to destroy her and her new relationship.

The Heart Principle has a different tone, a much heavier one, than the first two books in this connected series of stand-alones. It covers things such as Autism burnout, depression, suicidal thoughts, filial piety, cancer, and more.

While we do get some POV chapters from Quan, the main focus of the story is most definitely Anna. Having been such a huge fan of Quan in the first two books, I was a bit disappointed he didn't take center stage in the story. I'm not sure he even took 50% of the focus, it felt more focused on Anna. Which is fine! It just wasn't what I was expecting. I appreciated Helen's author note at the end and how much courage it took to write it as well as put so much of her own experience into the book. I think I would have been better prepared for the story and the emotional weight of Anna's journey, had I read the author's note first, instead of at the end.

In addition to Anna's struggles and journey, Quan is also dealing with accepting himself and his body after a health crisis, I did love how gentle Anna was with him when it came to that, and how they really did help each other open up and be vulnerable with each other.

Intense, deeply personal, and emotionally raw, The Heart Principle is a moving story of finding one’s voice and learning how to use it.
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Review posted on GoodReads (July 23, 2021) 
Review linked. 

5/5 stars! 

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for sending me an E-ARC of this book for an honest review! 

Content Warnings include: Ableism, Ableism from family members, discussion of past cancer, illness and death of a loved one/parent, racism. 

Sit back and be ready to read a really long, emotional, review where I do nothing but praise this book. To say this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 would be an understatement. As an Actually Autistic reader, I am always excited for books with Autism rep / books written by authors on the Autism Spectrum. I am such a huge fan of Helen Hoang’s books and knew that I was going to love this book the moment I heard about it. I adored everything about THE KISS QUOTIENT and THE BRIDE TEST, so I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of THE HEART PRINCIPLE. 

To say this book looked inside of me, saw my soul, and then proceeded to destroy every emotion I have would be an understatement. I think I cried more within this book than any other because for I felt so seen while reading this book. As a young adult (21 years old) who was only recently diagnosed with Autism, I related to Anna’s story on a VERY DEEP and emotional level. The thoughts and feelings that she goes through, the doubt, the ableism she faces as she is trying to figure out if her diagnoses works for her, are all things that I felt and experienced in the past year. I had moments where I even needed to set the book down and step back because what Anna was going through was a bit too close for comfort at some moments.  

I will not include spoilers, but especially the end of this book, was very hard to read. As someone who is literally in the midst of going through and working through Autistic Burnout, this book was triggering and healing for me at the same time. However, I do want to make clear that the when I say triggering, it wasn’t necessarily triggering in a bad way—what I mean by this Is that the book really made me look inside myself in ways I didn’t know I needed to. 

And the LOVE STORY! I adore Quan with every bit of my heart and soul. He is one of my favorite male leads in a romance ever and I adored his romance with Anna and getting to see him in depth for the first time. His own story and path was so emotional and powerful, and I loved how he and Anna supported and loved one another so so much! 

This is EASILY one of my favorite books of all time, if not ever. Everyone needs to read this book now. I might go back and edit this review to add in more details when the book releases, but for now I hope you enjoyed me letting out all of my EMOTIONS about this book into this review. 

Thanks for reading! 
Caden
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While this book is a love story, I’m not sure it could be considered a romance. The romance between Anna and Quan is plot line b, when compared to Anna’s plot line. 

While this is not, in my opinion, a romance, there is an undoubtably beautiful romantic story between Anna and Quan. Both are struggling to find a path to who they are, and with the help of each other (and their eventual love for each other) they find their way to a happy life. 

If I were to to want anything else from this book. It would be two things. 1) to make Quan’s POV either not exist because it feels like an unnecessary POV given that Anna’s clearly more important, or to make his POV equal to Anna’s with a more in-depth character arc of his coming to terms post-surgery. And 2) I’d want more of an exploration of Anna’s relationship with her father before his stroke. It seemed strange for him to be introduced by a stroke. I didn’t feel anything from that news. It felt like it paused the romance plot line to unpause Anna’s other plot line. 

All in all, this was a 3.5 read for me. I would’ve liked more romance for a romance book, but I can appreciate the importance of Anna’s plot line.
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This book follows Anna, who is a violinist experiencing burnout following her solo performance that went viral on YouTube, when her serious boyfriend Julien suddenly suggests they have an open relationship before he commits to marry her so they both have no regrets. Anna uses this opportunity to have a one-night stand with tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan, who is also dealing with some personal issues after recovering from major surgery and is also looking for something casual. But after 3 failed attempts at a one-night stand, they realize their relationship goes beyond sex and begin a relationship. However, a tragedy in Anna’s family threatens to destroy their relationship.

This book felt so incredibly personal and genuinely human. It made me laugh and smile at times but also covered serious topics such as autism spectrum disorder, caregiver burnout, low self-esteem, and cancer. I loved seeing Anna and Quan’s personal growth, both individually and together in their relationship. I especially loved Anna as a character as I related to her in so many different ways with her tendencies to always please others, her difficulties communicating about her needs, and how she didn't feel accepted by her loved ones. Hoang’s author’s note at the end of the novel made the book feel even more personal.

I read this book in a day and truly loved it so much! It hooked me immediately from the first sentence and I did not want to put it down. I will definitely be buying a physical copy when it comes out on August 31st and I strongly recommend that any contemporary romance lovers do as well!
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I've really enjoyed all the books in The Kiss Quotient series, and I admit to being a little nervous about the publisher note when I was approved for access to the digital ARC. This book WAS different than the previous two in the sense that Anna had been struggling her whole life to be what others expected her to be and do what others (primarily her family and boyfriend) expected of her. Seeing her interactions with Quan and how he accepts her for who she truly is against how her family treat her was very hard to read. And her struggle to handle the tragedy that hits her family was heartbreaking to read. 

Quan is also dealing with some major changes in his life, which was admittedly a bit of a shock to me, but he's still the Quan that I've loved from the previous two books, just struggling a bit to deal with how those changes have impacted the life he was used to leading. 

This book was very honest about how there are no quick fixes for Anna, and when I read the author's note at the end about this book being partly autobiographical and why, it made me sad to know she was going through all that while I was wondering when we'd get the next book. Highly recommend this title for fans of previous titles in the series (and if you haven't read them, you should!) and for fans of emotional contemporary romance stories featuring characters who are dealing with major changes in their lives.
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Anna is a musician who can no longer play music.  Quan is recovering from a surgery that has damaged him more mentally than physically.  When these two meet up on a dating up for a one night stand, things don't go exactly as they planned. Both think that a one night stand will fix there problems but when one night, turns into two, turns into three and they find themselves dating, maybe what they thought was right for them, was wrong all along.  At turns hopeful and sad, The Heart Principle reminds us how relationships can make us better versions of ourselves and gives us a couple to truly root for.
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On paper Anna Sun’s life sounds perfect. A seat in the San Francisco Orchestra, Internet fame, a successful boyfriend, everything seems to be working out for her. So why hasn’t she been able to play a piece without falling apart over every mistake? Why does her long term boyfriend suddenly decide he wants an open relationship? Now even Anna’s therapist has seen how she presents a false version of herself to the world, and she urges Anna to try to be truthful about her wants and needs. Being her true self around her family seems too hard, but, maybe she can practice on a stranger. Anna’s friends suggest she have a one night stand and Anna decides to test out her therapist’s advice on her date. 

Quan Diep presents himself as a confident bad boy, but inside he is reeling from his recent recovery from testicular cancer. While his best friend and cousin Michael encourages him to date again. Quan  is afraid his to be vulnerable with anyone after his life changing surgery. But Michael is persistent and soon Quan signs up for a dating app. When Quan and Anna are matched up on the app, the two are convinced they have found the perfect one night stand. Yet, one night turns into two, three, then four, and they realize that maybe they have found what they were looking for in each other. 

Just as her love life is improving, tragedy strikes.  Anna rushes to her family’s aid and together with her sister they provide at home care for their father. While Anna’s sister Priscilla is confident she can nurse him back to health, Anna sees that her father has lost the will to live and wonders whether their care may be the right thing. 

I consumed this entire book in one sitting. Anna and Quan’s relationship was so sweet and supportive, The Heart Principle has quickly became my favourite of Hoang’s books (so far). Hoang has a way of creating couples that readers fall in love with. The romance is superb but what keeps bringing me back to Hoang’s book is her representation of neurdivergence. As a neurodivergent person it means the world to have experiences and feelings so close to my own reflected on the page.
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I have read all of Helen Hoang's books, and I really enjoy the unique perspective she brings as an author who is on the autism spectrum. Her characters are so interesting. In this story, Anna is a violinist who is struggling with playing and has a downward spiral made worse when her father becomes severely ill and needs round the clock care. There is a lovely romance with Quan, a man who she initially starts seeing as a one night stand. The author’s note explains that this was a very personal book in that much of Anna is the author, and I think that authenticity really shines through. It’s a heartfelt story about how we all need to nourish ourselves in order to become the people we need to be. Self care is as central to this story as the romance and it works really well.
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So first of all, The Heart Principle literally stole my heart and snatched my soul. I honestly don’t even mind, Helen Hoang can keep my heart at this point 🥺

This story genuinely broke me. This isn’t your typical slow-burn, angst-filled romance story. It’s so much more. It touches on so many important topics and there are a slew of triggering content ranging from anxiety attacks on-page to suicidal ideation - so please make sure to look that up, if needed.

I went through such an emotional rollercoaster while reading this. I don’t think there has been another book that has made me feel this way. I was sad, angry, heartbroken but also so happy once Anna and Quan finally came to accept themselves as they were. This is an incredible hard-won HEA so be prepared!

The Heart Principle is, as of now, my favorite book in the series because she put so much of herself on the page. This story focuses mostly on Anna and her journey (not to discount Quan, I love him) which is an extension of Helen Hoang herself. Please make sure to read the author’s note - it adds so much to the story.

I’m so incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to read this when I did.
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Oh, y’all. Get ready. This one is going to BREAK you. But it will be so worth it, and definitely worth the wait.

Thanks so much to @berkleyromance for sending me this yesterday—I started reading it in the car before I realized I should actually go home, stopped to eat and get a little bit of sleep and powered on when I woke up an hour before I usually do, because even my subconscious was excited to keep reading. I was a sobbing mess, it was not pretty. But Quan and Anna are so beautiful and wonderful and I’m so honored to have been pulled into their lives. Be prepared to enjoy their earliest meetings and even giggle a bit (while also mentally cursing out a side character...or two) and be hit in the face with ten million feels. This is also Helen Hoang, though, so be prepared for it to also be sexy AF, even as both characters have to get over their own issues with sex and their own enjoyment of it.

Heavy CN list, though: anxiety, panic attack, depression, autism, masking, ableism, cancer, sterility, suicidal ideation, severe (non-cancer) illness of a family member; caretaking; burnout; death of a family member; toxic family relationship; classism; unnecessarily putting oneself in danger; over exertion as coping mechanism; open relationship; uncomfortable sexual encounter with a partner; probably something I’m forgetting
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This book was like a big hug, like the embraces Quan gave Anna. It was probably the softest book I've read in a long time and I loved every single word even as I struggled (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep my tears at bay. It was a beautiful love story about being accepted by others for who you are and, more importantly, accepting and loving yourself. There were moments when I had a lot of trouble reading because of the way Anna let herself be treated by her family and I was so frustrated and eager for her to stand up for herself. But just like in real life, Anna needed to do this in her own time and when she finally did, it was worth the wait. This was my favorite of the author's three books, although I loved them all.
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It was an absolute PLEASURE to even be considered to read an advanced copy of this title! The Bride Test was one of my favorite romances of all time, but The Heart Principle is so fantastic that it absolutely uproots it. I can't wait for the rest of the world to read this one!
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I am incredibly torn over Helen Hoang books. On one hand, the female characters speak to me on a personal level and I find them incredibly emotionally therapeutic to read. Like, seriously. Like, to the point that reading this and The Kissing Quotient literally benefited the well-being of my existing relationship. (FIVE STARS FOR THAT!)

On the other hand, the writing style (which is basic but accessible and can be read potato-chip fast) and romance pairings themselves are not my lures AT ALL. I recently found a reflection, written almost 10 years ago. that noted that I was always drawn to the asshole/innocent pairing in any new fandom, and this is TOTALLY TRUE. Give me relationships that are slow burn and juuuuuust the other side of toxic rather than these Emotionally Healthy and Supportive Masculine individuals.

I appreciated the author's note at the end where Hoang shared how much of her own personal story was attached to this novel. There was A Lot Going On in this book, so much so that the telling really showed the strain of it, especially towards the end of the novel.

Highly recommend to slightly Aspie weirdoes with sex hangups, but as an all-purpose romance novel, IDK. File under: not my kink.
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This was a hard read. Good- but hard. When I received the ARC from NetGalley, it came with a note saying that it was different from The Kiss Quotient (my favorite) and The Bride Test and to go in knowing and expecting it to be different. I may have wanted another TKQ, but I put on my big girl pants and dived in. What followed was "women fiction" with better sex scenes. I don't want to devalue the importance of this book- because it is an important story- but I want to give the best representation of the style of this book. I won't lie and say this is a book I love. I am not a reader who likes these hard-hitting stories-TKQ was the perfect blend for me and as hard-hitting as I like to go in my romances. BUT this book was too good to give it anything less than 4 stars. It was clearly personal, and it was definitely well written. So if you don't mind hard-hitting stories, pick this one up. I have a feeling you won't regret it.
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I simply love this author. Her writing is compelling & page turning. Her characters are representative of so many demographics, disabilities, talents, struggles and triumphs. Hoang is way more than a romance writer - she represents such a necessary and unique niche that can’t be replicated. 

The message around caregiving is so relevant - but a trigger for sure. If you’ve been a caregiver in hospice or related illness, be mindful this book could be healing or triggering. 

I am so lucky and privileged to have gotten an ARC of this book from NetGalley, Berkley, & Helen Hoang. All views are my own.
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The Heart Principle is one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and it did not disappoint! The Heart Principle strays from the first two books as it focuses more on Anna’s internal struggles. This one deals with heavier topics, and I found myself tearing up throughout.

While I loved Anna’s journey, I was hoping to see more of Quan. I feel like he took a backseat to everything; his storyline with Michael felt rushed and resolved too easily in the end.

Anna and Quan’s love story was sweet, but again, I feel like there wasn’t enough development. They had great communication with each other and managed to resolve their problems in a healthy way.

CW: depression, mentions of suicide, ableism, cancer (I’m sure I forgot/didn’t catch some things)
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