About the Book:
A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance by USA Today bestselling author 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.
Romance lovers, rejoice! This book is for you. Helen Hoang has hit all the high notes with this surprisingly profound contemporary novel.
Anna is a brilliant violinist who has become crippled with anxiety and obsessive behaviors. She can no longer play her music without stopping and repetitively restarting songs. Her therapist diagnoses her as being on the spectrum, a not uncommon diagnosis for adult autistic women who have learned to “mask” their behaviors their entire lives in order to get along in society. The efforts Anna has made just to get along with her boyfriend Julian, her strict family and especially with her older sister, the over-achieving Priscilla, have led her to emotional exhaustion.
“I don’t like lying. I do it all the time, though. The harmless little lies that make people feel nice. They’re essential for getting along in society.”
When Julian decides that they should both see other people, Anna decides the best way to fill the void is to go on a series of dates with men she meets on a dating app. What would be the harm in a no-strings-attached one-night stand? She just doesn’t want to connect on a deeper level with anyone else.
Enter Quan, who has the same idea, too. Except that he didn’t count on the quirky, brilliant and kind Anna, who accepts him as he is. I loved their VERY steamy scenes together!! Quan’s cousin and best friend is Michael from ‘The Kiss Quotient’ but this book completely and 100% stands on its own.
This book is written in the first person, unlike Ms. Hoang’s previous books. A poignant author’s note explains why. The exploration of adult autism is very well done and very insightful. Not only can Anna never say no to her family or to Julian, every social gathering is painful, like a simple family party that is almost unbearable for Anna: “I shake hands with unfamiliar people and hug familiar ones. I make small talk, pushing my brain to its limits as I follow the conversations with careful attention, reason through what I think people want to hear as quickly as I possibly can, and then say it with the correct delivery, which involves facial expressions, voice modulation, and hand motions. I’m a marionette, hyperaware of all the strings I need to pull in order to give a convincing performance.”
Anna’s late introduction to therapy completely changes her life and while she still struggles, the way Quan supports her is amazing. If you are looking for an adult contemporary with depth and realistic, unconventional characters, then ‘The Heart Principle’ is for you!
“It’s me, Anna. There’s something I need to say.”
(Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.)