Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 31st, 2021
Pages: 352, paperback
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.
The Heart Principle highlighted an issue I hadn’t realized I had with Hoang’s novels until now: I honestly cannot remember the male leads from either of her books. I can remember the women just fine, but the men? Blank spaces.
This problem is sort of brought to a head in this book, because honestly, Quan was not as fleshed out as Anna was. He started out strong but got lost in the middle and was almost completely absent from the ending. It’s a shame, because what we get from their relationship is sweet. But it’s very apparent that Hoang was a little more interested in Anna’s story than she was Quan’s. This wouldn’t be an issue if The Heart Principle didn’t follow modern romance novel standards and have chapters from both Quan and Anna’s POVs. In comparison to Anna’s fully fleshed out story, Quan’s felt more like a first draft that still needed filling out.
The reason I’m giving this three stars despite the big issue of the hero’s story is because Anna’s storyline and character arc are so good. I cried quite a few times, I cheered, and when I closed the book, I was thrilled for her. I just wish Quan’s story had as much impact.