Review by Veronica

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Series Name: The Kiss Quotient, #3

I hurry from the bathroom.

And collide with him.

Firm chest. Solid body. 

Warm. Alive. Real.

This was horrible. Absolutely horrible.

His hands wrap around my upper arms for an instant as he puts space between us, and the shock of his touch reverberates through me. 

“Hey,” he says, his expression blank with surprise. 

My lips form the word hey, but my vocal chords refuse to make a sound. His throat is directly at my eye level, and I’m staring straight at the swirling calligraphy inked into his skin. 

After becoming a Youtube sensation, violinist Anna Sun is burnt out and finds herself unable to play music. If that wasn’t bad enough, her long-time boyfriend decides they should have an open relationship before they settle down. A hurt and angry Anna decides she’ll go out and have a string of one-night stands with completely unacceptable men. Enter Quan Diep, a tattooed, motorcycle-riding guy with a heart of gold. Anna and Quan’s attempts at a one-night stand are unsuccessful because they realize they have amazing chemistry and want to spend more time with each other. Anna also cannot ignore that Quan accepts her unconditionally and doesn’t pressure her to do things she isn’t comfortable with.

However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family, she finds herself taking on the role of a caregiver, a role that she isn’t comfortable with and can’t really do emotionally and mentally. Anna’s life starts to become overwhelming and bleak; the only bright spot in her life is Quan. If Anna and Quan want to be together, they will have to stand up and fight for themselves and each other. 

 The Heart Principle is the third book in The Kiss Quotient series, and it really had a different tone to it. Don’t panic, it’s still a fabulous book, but it is pretty different from the series’ previous two books. To me, this book felt like it was more than just a rom-com love story; it had a personal touch to it. When I read the Author’s Note at the back of the book, I learned that Helen wrote this book as a sort of memoir of her life. As a reader, I could hear Helen’s voice in this book; it was like she was telling the readers her struggles and the pain she experienced at times in her life. This could not have been an easy book for Helen to write, but I am glad she did because it’s a truly remarkable story. I would like to thank Helen for writing such a profound book that helps readers understand what life is like for people who have autism. I hope that this book helps people be more understanding and compassionate to people affected by illness and disabilities. 

Now, on to what I thought about the story. I love Helen’s books; she does such an excellent job giving her books their own voice and story. The characters and the relationships that they form are diverse and just so likeable. Readers will find that each book in this series is very different, and the books can be read as a series or on their own. The Heart Principle follows the story of Anna and Quan. We have met Quan in previous books, and I am so happy this gorgeous man gets his own book. I must admit I have this slow-burn trope thing going on with this fictional man. I liked him in the first book, had a crush on him in the second book, and fell in love with him in the third book. Quan is sweet, kind, and hella sexy. I also like how he treats Anna. He respects her boundaries, loves her for who she is, and stands by her during the tough times. I also enjoyed seeing a more vulnerable side of Quan, it made him feel more human, and I was able to connect with him better. 

Anna is a new character, and this book is really about her journey of healing and coming to terms with the fact that she might be autistic. It was hard at times reading the scenes where Anna struggled to stand up for herself, especially when it came to her relationship with her sister. There were times where I felt like yelling at Anna to grow a backbone. But I would then stop and think that Anna is dealing with an illness and cannot process or react to situations the same way I would. I really started to look at the world through her eyes and how hard her life is, and how much I take my ability to deal with a situation so easily for granted. Anna is also such a loveable and cute character. When she is truly herself, she really shines, and I loved that this fabulous side of her would come out when she was with Quan. 

Even though this book really focuses on Anna, there are plenty of romantic and steamy moments between Anna and Quan.  Their relationship is full of ups and downs because they both are dealing with their issues. But there are lots of cute moments between these two that will have you swooning. Their relationship also has Helen’s trademark slow-burn feel to it, leaving readers feeling hot and bothered (in a good way of course).

The Heart Principle is a heart-wrenching story about healing, finding love, and standing up for yourself.

Thank you, Berkley Publishing, for giving us the ARC in exchange for an honest review.