The Heart Principle - book cover
  • Publisher : Berkley
  • Published : 31 Aug 2021
  • Pages : 352
  • ISBN-10 : 0451490843
  • ISBN-13 : 9780451490841
  • Language : English

The Heart Principle

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected-and the man she enlists to help her-in this new New York Times bestselling romance by Helen Hoang.

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.

Editorial Reviews

"A fiercely anticipated third release from the adored author of romances The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test... If Hoang's previous successes prove anything, The Heart Principle will be a joy."-Elle

"[Hoang is] a consummate wordsmith of soulful romances, with soft, honest-to-goodness love stories paired with euphoric steaminess."-NPR

"There's something about the way that Hoang writes her characters. They're fully fleshed, vulnerable, sexual, and full of potential, and her newest novel proves no different."-Real Simple

"Sensitive and sweet, The Heart Principle-a worthy follow-up to Hoang's 2019 novel The Bride Test- explores a burgeoning romance built on undeniable chemistry." -TIME

"The Heart Principle is riveting the whole way through, exploring a complex range of subjects in unique and interesting ways."-Associated Press

"The author shows that romance can bloom in unexpected ways and reminds readers that happily-ever-after endings are different for everyone."-Shelf Awareness

Readers Top Reviews

Andrea WayEJS
This book was one of my highly anticipated reads of 2021. I loved books one and two of the Kiss Quotient series. For me, this failed to meet my expectations. The book was enjoyable, but I felt Anna’s journey overtook the romance of the story. I don’t mind women’s fiction, but when the other two books in the series are more focused on romance, that’s what I wanted. I picked this up, wanting nothing more than a hot and steamy romance featuring one of the best characters in the series. Don’t get me wrong; the story still had some spicy moments like the other novels. For me, I felt like I needed more than I received. I would recommend it if you enjoy a woman’s literature with a hint of romance.
tatjana kleitos
I am one of those late diagnosed aspie women. Though my love life has been supersorted since teen years (found the love of my life early on), this book to me is ME. The way my thoughts work, the type of things I focus on, the freedom gained by the diagnosis. I spent 37 years trying to fit. I felt like somebody let me out of jail when I got it. This is a romance. And it should be. Contrary to popular opinion, aspie women are amazing at romance - we focus on the person , we can argue a fight rationally, we don’t make rash decisions, and romance is one on one - the best type of social relation for an aspie. Where else would you find acceptance for your whole being, but in a romance relationship? Loved the book.
Read and ReviewedRel
This was my first Helen Hoang novel however I was aware that her adult romance books all featured autistic protagonists but it was only on reading the author’s note, in which she refers to this book as “half memoir”, that it becomes clear just how personal The Heart Principle really is. Needless to say there is a lot to unpack and the romance is one of the less credible and secondary aspects of a very affecting story. At times a tough read, particularly given it is written in the first-person, and covering a number of important issues, many that often go unaddressed, do be warned that the hookups are also pretty steamy. Although readers of Hoang’s earlier novels will have met both the central protagonists before this book worked just fine for me as a stand-alone. Professional violinist Anna Sun became internet famous when a YouTube video of her went viral and now all she hears are the imperfections and mistakes as she struggles to master a composition written specifically for her. Her family practice tough love and she has always laboured under the weight of their judgements and expectations. When Anna’s long-term boyfriend, Julian, one of the things about her life that her parents do actually approve of, announces his wish to try out an open relationship in the belief that Anna’s won’t actually experiment, her friends encourage her to give it a go. Deciding to try a one-night stand in the hope of overcoming her sexual inhibitions she joins a dating app and meets tattooed and shaven-headed biker Quan Diep, who comes with his own emotional scars. After her therapist suggests that she might be on the autism spectrum and Anna finally recognises herself and her struggles in the literature, she is dismissed by her bossy older sister who thinks she is simply looking for an excuse to justify being different. Despite three consecutive date nights with Quan not going to plan he accepts Anna in a way that nobody else does and she is able to shed the exhausting masking that has led her to burnout point. Deciding to overcome their intimacy issues together after making an emotional connection and finding acceptance with each other, The Heart Principle features multiple graphic, albeit very well-written, sex scenes. Life gets even more complicated for Anna when he elderly father falls ill and her older sister makes the decision for the family to care for him at home. Quan’s role in the book seems primarily to be patient and understanding and accept Anna without judgment, thus giving her the confidence to express her desires and I was disappointed that there was so little focus on his own personal issues. Although chapters alternate between Anna and Quan I found the focus centred almost exclusively on Anna and the actual growth of their relationship was minimal. There is an awful lot of turmoil in the novel and whilst it is incredibly...
Jessica Johnson
I literally read this book in nine hours. It was just that good. This is the highly anticipated story of Anna and Quan, two people fighting the same battle in different form. Anna is a professional violinist who is having trouble playing; Quan is the CEO of an apparel company he runs with his best friend and cousin, Michael. Quan and Anna meet on an online dating service app when Quan’s trying to get back into dating after an illness, and Anna is struggling with her open relationship status. There is so much to unpack in this story, so many avenues and twists and turns. I’m not gonna get into all of them because I don’t want to spoil it for readers - you simply have to experience some things - but suffice it to say that this is the best book I’ve read all year. Quan is the hero that everyone needs. EVERYONE. I’ve been waiting for his story since it was announced in 2019, and Helen Hoang did not disappoint. He is the perfect blend of sweet and hard and ugh. I just love him so much. But the best part about Quan is that he’s complicated. He’s both confident and vulnerable, nice and protective, completely perfect and imperfect. The best book boyfriend. And Anna…she is masterfully written, unbelievably complicated and perfect. Though she struggles with mental illness and other things, her struggles are universally human. My heart broke for her with everything that happened, and it made me want to call up Helen Hoang and be like BUT IS ANNA OKAY?! Even though I knew she isn’t a real person. Character development was flawless. The story arc was masterful. I loved everything about this book. Ten out of ten, highly recommend. But be prepared to want to fight the air (or some of the characters) and cry endlessly.

Short Excerpt Teaser



This is the last time I'm starting over.

That's what I tell myself, anyway. I mean it every time. But then, every time, something happens-I make a mistake, I know I can do better, or I hear, in my head, what people will say.

So I stop and go back to the beginning, to get it right this time. And it's really the last time this time.

Except it isn't.

I've spent the past six months doing this, going over the same measures again and again like a rhinoceros pacing figure eights at the zoo. These notes don't even make sense to me anymore. But I keep trying. Until my fingers hurt and my back aches and my wrist throbs with every pull of the bow on the strings. I ignore it all and give the music everything I have. Only when the timer goes off do I lower my violin from my chin.

My head is spinning, and I'm parched with thirst. I must have turned my lunch alarm off and forgotten to actually eat. That happens a lot more often than I care to admit. If it weren't for the zillions of alarms on my phone, I might have accidentally ended myself by now. It's out of consideration for life that I don't keep any plants. I do have a pet. He's a rock. His name is, very creatively, Rock.

The alarm notification on my phone screen says THERAPY, and I turn it off with a grimace. Some people enjoy therapy. It's venting and validation for them. For me, it's exhausting work. It doesn't help that I think my therapist secretly dislikes me.

Still, I drag myself into my bedroom to change. Attempting to muddle through things on my own hasn't helped, so I'm determined to give this therapy thing a try. My parents would be disgusted by the waste of money if they knew, but I'm desperate and they can't mourn dollars they don't know I'm spending. I remove the pajamas that I've been wearing all day and pull on exercise clothes that I don't plan to exercise in. Somehow, these are considered more appropriate in public even though they're more revealing. I don't question why people do things. I just observe and copy. That's how to get along in this world.

Outside, the air smells of car exhaust and restaurant cooking, and people are out and about, bicycling, shopping, catching late lunches at the cafŽs. I navigate the steep streets and weave through the pedestrians, wondering if any of these people are going to the symphony tonight. They're playing Vivaldi, my favorite. Without me.

I took a leave of absence because I can't perform when I'm stuck playing in loops like this. I haven't told my family because I know they wouldn't understand. They'd tell me to quit indulging myself and snap out of it. Tough love is our way.

Being tough on myself isn't working now, though. I can't try harder than I already am.

When I reach the modest little building where my therapist and other mental health professionals have their practices, I key in the code 222, let myself in, and walk up the musty stairs to the second floor. There's no receptionist or sitting room, so I go straight to room 2A. I lift my fist toward the door but hesitate before making contact. A quick glance at my phone reveals it's 1:58 p.m. Yes, I'm two minutes early.

I shift my weight from foot to foot, uncertain what to do. Everyone knows that being late isn't good, but being early isn't great either. Once, when I showed up early to a party, I literally caught the host with his pants down. And his girlfriend's face in his crotch. That wasn't fun for any of us.

Obviously, the best time to arrive somewhere is right on time.

So I stand here, tormented with indecision. Should I knock or should I wait? If I knock early, what if I inconvenience her somehow and she's annoyed with me? On the other hand, if I wait, what if she gets up to go to the bathroom and catches me standing outside her door grinning creepily? I don't have enough information, but I try to think of what she'll think and modify my actions accordingly. I want to make the "correct" decision.

I check my phone repeatedly, and when the time reads 2:00 p.m., I exhale in relief and knock. Three times firmly, like I mean it.

My therapist opens the door and greets me with a smile and no handshake. There's never a handshake. It confused me in the beginning, but now that I know what to expect, I like it.

"It's so good to see you, Anna. Come on in. Make yourself comfortable." She motions for me to enter and then waves at the cups and hot water heater on the counter. "Tea? Water?"

I get myself a cup of tea because that seems to be what she wants and set it on the coffee table to steep before I sit in the middle of the sofa across from her armchair. Her name is Jennifer Aniston, by the way. No, she's not that Jennifer Aniston. I don't t...