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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 has just started to understand herself. 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 was not the cute romance book that I was expecting. While reading this book, I started to question the themes and the tones, and I was wondering what exactly the author was going for. I had a feeling it was a very personal book to Hoang, and after reading the author’s note at the end which confirmed by suspicions, I feel a bit bad only rating this three stars.
It’s just this book was not what I wanted or expected. The romance felt like it was taking a back seat here in order for the main characters to sort through their issues. I’m not even a hardcore reader of romance books, and I don’t sign up for loads of smut, but I was still expecting the focus to be on the characters’ relationship rather than on their trauma.
This book felt very dark, and I would say go into it knowing it’s not a fluffy light read. It covers topics such as anxiety, depression, burnout, cancer, death of a loved one… the list goes on. I think if I had gone into this knowing that it was such a book, I would have been a little prepared and I would have enjoyed it (as much as you can enjoy such a book, anyway) a lot more.
I think this kind of story, which is really half-memoir, would have been better told as a standalone book rather than a continuation of the Kiss Quotient trilogy. I have no doubt that the author tackled such topics well and that this was all true to her. I’m impressed that Hoang was brave enough to share this story. I just don’t think this trilogy was the correct place to tell it. (In my personal opinion, of course. If it helped the author to tell it this way then it’s definitely not the wrong place to do it.)