The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Narrated by Brian Nishii and Natalie Naudus
I have absolutely loved The Kiss Quotient series from Helen Hoang, but The Heart Principle may be my favorite, or is it my least favorite? The first two were in third person, but this was in dual POV first person and it made me feel so much more connected to the story and characters. You can feel how personal this was to the author, and I found out after reading that it was partially a memoir. But if you’re wondering how it can be my most and least favorite…it was a HARD, sometimes bleak read that had romance but wasn’t a romance. But it was still a great read.
“You’re a big deal—to me. You’re amazing—to me.”
This was very much Anna’s book. Quan plays the role of the amazing male lead, but it’s all about her growth to me. Anna is a violinist. She is struggling with her music ever since going viral online. She is struggling with a boyfriend who suddenly wants to play the field before settling down with her and she is struggling with her family’s high expectations that she be just like them.
Right off the bat, you get that Anna is on the autism spectrum, but she doesn’t know it yet. She has learned to “mask” her true self and emulate what society expects her to act like, and she’s very good at it, but we hear her inner voice, and it shows just how unnatural it is for her to appear normal.
When Anna’s douche of an ex-boyfriend wants to date others, Anna goes on a dating app in retaliation and meets the tatted-up Quan. He seems perfect for some no-strings hook-ups, but the plans don’t always work out as expected.
“I just had a panic attack and hid from you in the bathroom for half an hour. You should never want to see me again.”
He stuffs his hands in his pockets and shrugs. “Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean we need to throw it away. Plus tonight’s barely started.”
Quan was so patient and understanding, I couldn’t help but fall for him along with Anna. He was even patient through the darkest of times. When Anna is called home to care for a family member, the expectations of her were so high, and she is not a natural caregiver. Some of these scenes were heartbreaking to read, yet so relatable.
If you go into The Heart Principle expecting a light romance, you may be disappointed. There are a lot of potential triggers and emotional baggage including gaslighting, caregiver burnout, going against family, suicidal thoughts, cancer, and more. But it was SO WELL DONE.
- Helen Huong writes an incredible story.
- Finally getting Quan’s story.
- Visiting with previous characters.
- I really like delving into all the quirks of autism and how different it is in each case. I found it fascinating to be in her head.
- There were parts of Anna that I could so relate to.
- How Quan stuck with her.
- It wasn’t the lighthearted romance I was hoping for.
- Quan basically disappeared for half of the book.
- I just hated her family so much.
- The end felt very rushed like it slipped too far from being a romance and had to turn back quickly.
Brian Nishii and Natalie Naudus were new to me (I think). And while I enjoyed the narration, I don’t think it really added to the story. This may have been better read than listened to.
The Down & Dirty:
Wow. The Heart Principle is so hard to rate. I think if I knew going in that it was an emotional and dark read I would have been a little more prepared. But from the first two in the series, and from meeting Quan, the hero, in those, I expected another lighter, sexy romance with a character that isn’t neurotypical. The first third completely lived up to it, but then it went downhill. The Heart Principle was still so well-written, and I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t what I signed up for—it was a little too real for me.
Rating 4 Stars. Heat 3.5 Flames, Narration 4 stars
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