Review: The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

 

Title: The Heart Principle {The Kiss Quotient #3}

Author: Helen Hoang

Published: 31st August 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read September 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

I adored Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient and enjoyed The Bride Test. The Heart Principle is her third novel in the loosely linked romance fiction series.

On reading the Author’s Note, in which Hoang writes of her personal connection to the characters and events in The Heart Principle, any criticism of the novel risks seeming presumptuous and petty. And to be honest I have one or two issues with the story, including that this is not the ‘romance novel’ I was expecting.

The thing is, I’m not sure why that matters. I’ve never much cared for genre rules, and my own reading is fairly eclectic. In itself, I think The Heart Principle is a great read, but I definitely felt the gap between what I expected of the genre, and therefore the mood of the book, and what Hoang gives.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the romance here. The development of the relationship between the protagonists- Quan, who has appeared in previous novels, and Anna Sun, a violinist in the midst of a professional and personal crisis is swoony and steamy, and though of course it has its complications, there is a happy ever after ending for the couple. As a whole, however, the romance feels sidelined in favour of the serious challenges faced by Anna and her journey to overcome them.

Professionally, Anna is struggling with self doubt, and reluctantly seeing a therapist in an attempt to resolve it. When said therapist suggests her issue stems from a set of behaviours that indicates Anna is autistic, Anna is surprised, but recognises diagnostic traits in herself such her use of masking – imitating neurotypical behaviours to fit in. Anna’s family, who have always been critical of her, immediately rejects the notion, but any further exploration of the topic is shut down when Anna’s father is incapacitated by a stroke. Caring for her father, who will not recover, places Anna under an intolerable amount of pressure, and her subsequent meltdown results in estrangement from her family, and an emotional collapse.

I have nothing but praise for Hoang’s authentic, honest characterisation of Anna, and for the genuine depiction of her experiences, including autistic burnout and caregiving for an invalid family member, but there is also so much raw emotion, it makes for quite a harrowing read, and I found it a little overwhelming because I wasn’t expecting it.

So here is my recommendation, before you pick up The Heart Principle, throw out your expectations of genre and take this novel as it comes. It is sexy, heart-rending, intense and poignant.

+++++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Denisenewtonwrites.com
    Sep 24, 2021 @ 06:18:41

    Sounds like a worthwhile read; great review

    Like

    Reply

  2. 1girl2manybooks
    Sep 24, 2021 @ 13:42:28

    Definitely not your typical romance book!

    Like

    Reply

  3. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Sep 25, 2021 @ 07:35:20

    Excellent review! I read widely, not so widely as you, but I prefer “romance” books that aren’t the norm so it was actually what I expected from this author.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Helen Murdoch
    Sep 25, 2021 @ 09:58:02

    I am so glad to hear of someone else who really enjoyed this novel since I did, too.

    Like

    Reply

  5. Trin Carl
    Sep 26, 2021 @ 23:05:49

    Burnout and care giving isn’t talked about a lot in fiction and I think it should be. Its something most of us have been given.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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