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 longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that 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 started 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.
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I gave The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test five stars, so now I need a sixth star to emphasise how Hoang's latest book was my absolute favourite. The Heart Principle was everything I wanted, and so much more. Hot, sweet, sad, deeply personal. This is a big claim, but it genuinely might be my favourite romance novel ever. As always, Hoang's author's note explains her personal reasons for writing this kind of story, but I suspected early on that the raw emotions the book explores, and the sad places it goes to, were inspired by her own experiences. For one thing, The Heart Principle is written in first person, not third like her other books, which I generally prefer for romance anyway. For another, I felt completely immersed in this story, pulled so entirely into Anna and Quan's world, their feelings and experiences seeming so real. There's a lot going on in this book; a lot more than a romance, though that is done excellently too. Anna and Quan are so lovely (I think “I’ll wear rainbows out with you" is the most romantic thing I've ever heard a guy say) , so kind, their vulnerabilities so real, yet the chemistry between them sizzles off the page. One thing Hoang continues to excel at is writing sexy romances where neither of the protagonists are assholes. As I said, though, there's a lot more than romance going on here. It is about a woman being diagnosed with ASD later in life and beginning to make sense of everything she had previously struggled to mask. It's also about caregiving for someone who is terminally ill, and I really appreciate the discussion Hoang has opened with this. A lot of caregivers find themselves struggling and unable to cope, though they feel too guilty to ask for help. Nobody should feel too ashamed to ask for help when they need it. And the book is also about depression and anxiety, how they can make you feel immobilised, and the long journey of fighting against these illnesses. It's also, I think, about the burden of expectations. From society, to perform a socially acceptable role. From family and friends, when it comes to caregiving. And from an audience, when you've gained a certain amount of popularity. It makes me sad to think this quote from Anna might reflect Hoang's own feelings: The truth is art will never be as effortless as it used to be, not now that people have expectations of me. It's another beautiful emotional book from an author who seems to put so much heart into everything she creates.
Two individuals from different worlds that cross paths towards the way of healing, and learning more about each other for the better of their individual selves... . Years of anticipation made us all Helen Hoang lovers crave Quan's novel for a very long time. Now that's finally here there is a lot that shocked me while reading his book. This is not just a romance novel that touches base on two characters that find the best of each other both physically and emotionally. This is also a story of a young woman who struggles with the institution of finding herself and accepting her real identity as a woman that is part of the spectrum. The beauty of it all, with the knowledge that we know of Helen's personal story as being part of the spectrum as well, is the first pov difference in comparison to the first and second novel that we got. With Anna being at a cross roads of accepting the open relation her boyfriend wants to be in, or separate from the one person whom she has thought will be the one for her due to the fact that her family adores him. She has to come to a realization by herself that saying "no" is a standing decision that is an inner struggle. Because all she wants is to please her family and the struggle to say "no" is not an easy task. Especially when her older sister puts so much pressure on her to not have an "attitude" and act like the way she should be acting. With that, Anna is also stuck with the fact that she must find some inspiration to help her finish her violin piece that has been in the loop of not ever being done. And then we have Quan... the sexy, kendo lover, tattooed big hulk of a man that has a heart made of passion and love. A teddy bear of a man who wants nothing more in life than to love Anna and make her feel comfortable with herself. But at the same, he keep himself guarded after a life changing choice he had to make that made him doubt whether he would ever be able to be with someone as beautiful and smart as Anna. And when they are both finally together, he learns that struggle of being accepted by her family is not an easy task either. Something in which I can relate to as being part of the hispanic culture, where your parents will always want the best for you and will judge anyone who comes in the way. Even without them knowing you. And that is the first encounter he comes across when he meets Anna's parents. Being judged is not something new to him, but not being accepted after demonstrating that he is worthy is unlike his character. But no matter what, Anna will always accept him the way he is, and her path with his will always align; "I'm not surprised that I'm coming straight to her. My compass always points to her..." With that being said, this is a story filled with personal acknowledgment by Helen. A story that will give you an insight to her inner mental battles as a woman in this generation that is part of the spectrum. Not everyone can understand, but knowing what to do and what not to do is also a good insight to those whom cannot express themselves in the spectrum. Helen knows how much I appreciate her as an author, and she knows that hers have a strong power to brake it or make it in the book community. To end this long review, I just want to give you a fair warning to have your box of tissues ready... because you will need 'em.