After The Bride Test, I’ve been waiting for Quan’s story! And now we have it! The Heart Principle unexpectedly hit me in the feels. I was expecting to love it, but I had no idea how personal it would get for me. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: ableism, terminal disease, cancer, stroke
The Heart Principle was a book that carved a spot in my heart. I think Anna’s character development, and growth, brought tears to my eyes. Her late diagnosis with autism is such an important conversation to hear. Not only does it seem incredibly personal to the author (based on the author’s note), but I think it’s an important topic to discuss especially considering the ableism Anna experiences. All the masking, the ways her high functioning Autisim has manifested, and her relationships with her self.
Not only was Anna’s journey and character growth intensely emotional, in an unexpected turn of events, her family’s experience of taking care of a loved one – along with the expectations of her family, the pain and power of love/grief – were incredibly heart wrenching. As someone who has experienced situations where I’ve had to take care of my loved ones, this element was so incredibly relatable to me and made my heart ache.
I want to address some points I’ve seen in a few reviews so far and first is that it’s not as fluffy as you might expect (especially based on the summary first released). For this, I definitely agree that it’s not a light fluffy story. Anna’s character growth is one that is full of struggle and self-reflection, but there is this central core of romance between Anna and Quan. I’d make sure you’re aware of the trigger warnings and especially my earlier paragraphs.
The Heart Principle manages to deliver heat, butterflies, and tears all in one. I ended up finishing this one in a few days I was so invested in Anna’s story and their romance. She definitely stole the show for me, which I did not expect, but I also enjoyed Quan’s story. How he’s still very much recovering and reeling from his diagnosis and surgery. For readers who are excited about Quan’s story and this series, this is a must read. I’d also encourage others who are intrigued by Anna’s story (especially the aspects I loved) that this is also for you!
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