Cover The Heart Principle: A woman in sunglasses looks at the reader over her shoulder while a tiny motorcycle leaves a tire track in the shape of a heart around her

About the Book

Title: The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3)
Published: 2021

First Impressions: Ready For My Close Up, Mr. Demille
What’s Your Type? 
Dealing with mental health, Drama with a side of romance, That supportive boyfriend everyone needs, Cathartic book-crying
The Lean
Sweetly Sexy
We Need to Talk: 
Prep Your Mental Headspace
Was It Good For You? 
Crying After Sex

First Impressions: Ready For My Close Up, Mr. Demille

Objectively, I like this cover, though I don’t know if it totally fits this particular book. The little Quan on a motorcycle is a nice touch, but I think my favorite cover of the series is still book one.

What’s Your Type?

  • Dealing with mental health
  • Drama with a side of romance
  • That supportive boyfriend everyone needs
  • Cathartic book-crying

Dating Profile

Anna Sun accidentally became internet famous and now the pressure of recording a solo album of violin pieces—one written especially for her by a famous composer—is causing her extreme anxiety. If she makes any error as she practices her piece, she restarts the entire thing. After Anna’s piece of shit boyfriend tells her that he totally wants to marry but he first needs to screw around and “sow his wild oats” she decides that maybe she needs to see what else is out there too.

Enter: Quan Diep, the cousin and brother to our previous romantic leads, who is starting this book a little worse for wear. He’s recovering from a serious health scare that has left him feeling emotionally fragile, and this former ladies’ man hasn’t sowed his own wild oats in a long time. Michael, said cousin and co-owner of their children’s clothing line (I MEAN), urges Quan to get back out there.

Meet Cute

Anna and Quan end up meeting on a dating app and bonding over their shared love of octopus documentaries. Anna, a serial monogamist, is wondering if she’s bold enough to have a one-night stand while Quan, a serial casual dater, has never felt this kind of connection with a woman before.

The Lean: Sweetly Sexy

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

I’m pretty sure we all need a Quan in our lives. These two have some communication hurdles to get over, in addition to their personal hang-ups, but it works because Quan is quite possibly one of the most patient book boyfriends we’ve ever read about.

Dirty Talk

But the longer he kisses me, the greater the temptation grows. My hips push against his fingers, seeking the kind of caress that’s eluding me. He doesn’t give it to me. He can’t. He doesn’t know how. But my fingers are right there, and they’re impossibly slippery with the force of my need. Every muscle in my body draws tight as an A string.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

I love Hoang’s writing, as it’s a great mixture of straightforward and realness that still makes you hot under the collar. If I didn’t totally always connect with Anna and Quan, it was more because I was having some whiplash moving from the heavier parts of the story to the romantic ones, which, ya know, is life, but I needed a moment to adjust my expectations for what kind of book I thought I was going into. The parts I ended up highlighting weren’t the sexy bits but the parts where Anna is coming to these important realizations about her life and how she views herself, like when she realizes she may be autistic:

I let the tears fall.

I cry for the girl I used to be.

I cry for me.

It’s a foreign experience. Self-pity is not an indulgence that I allow myself. This doesn’t feel like pity, though. It feels like self-compassion, and the realization makes me cry harder.

No one should need a diagnosis in order to be compassionate to themselves.

But I did.

We Need To Talk: Prep Your Mental Headspace

I don’t even know how to talk about this book. It’s both everything I expected from Helen Hoang (deeply-felt emotions, realistic characters, insightful commentary) and yet nothing like I was anticipating (holy crap was it heavy on the feels, but light on the romance). Honestly, if I was pressed, I wouldn’t even label this a romance, because the romance itself was incidental to all the other weighty emotions the characters were dealing with. And that is okay. Hoang admits in her author’s note this wasn’t the book she intended it to be, but her own life situations had her feeling the need to purge and express her emotions, and I completely applaud her for being so raw with her/Anna’s journey. But do I almost wish this was a completely separate book from this romance series because Quan didn’t really get his time to shine? A teensy bit. This was very much Anna’s story, which meant Quan once again felt like a secondary character in his own lead book.

If you’re in a fragile mindset, I definitely recommend you read some through content warnings before embarking on this journey, because there are some deep lows. Partway through the book something happens to a family member of Anna’s that leads to everyone rallying together to provide round-the-clock care and the mental toll it that care takes is hard to read about. There were also some other people in Anna’s life I’d gladly cuss out for her, and I’d imagine there’s many moments that will sadly feel all too relatable to some. Like any good romance, the book thankfully doesn’t leave us on a bleak note, but…the last quarter of the book was hard to get through.

Was It Good For You? Crying After Sex

A woman starting to cry and then fanning herself to stop the tears.

Hoang moved me enough to make actual tears leak from my eyeballs (admittedly, that isn’t a herculean task when it comes to me) and made me smile during the moments when our characters triumph, whether it be over a personal struggle or over someone who has been holding them back. As I closed this book’s back cover, the thing I wanted to do most was give Helen Hoang a giant hug and let her know that there’s one reader out here so very happy she’s still around.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Berkley Publishing. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Heart Principle is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.