Happy Monday all! Today I’m back with a couple of fun romances that are releasing soon. Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principle is the third novel in her popular series, The Kiss Quotient, and one of my most anticipated reads of the year, while The Charm Offensive is Alison Cochrun’s debut queer romcom and is receiving rave reviews over on Goodreads. I’m excited to share my thoughts on both of this books with you today!
The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3) Goodreads
Author: Helen Hoang
Publication Date: August 31, 2021
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
With his tattoos, motorcycle, and his ultra-kind heart, Quan Diep stole my heart in Helen Hoang’s debut romance The Kiss Quotient even though he was only meant to be a secondary character. I adored his character so much and was thrilled to learn he would be featured in Hoang’s new novel, The Heart Principle.
The Heart Principle follows a young woman named Anna Sun. She is a gifted violinist who is suffering from burnout that is the result of the pressure of her own success. When a well known composer writes a piece of music specifically for her to play, Anna finds herself completely incapacitated and unable to play the piece no matter how many hours a day she tries to practice it. Anna has hit a wall and doesn’t know how to move forward. As if her career struggles aren’t weighing her down enough, her personal life has taken a hit as well. She has been expecting her longtime boyfriend to propose to her any day now and instead he tells her he would like to have an open relationship for a while first, to see other people and just make sure they’re really right for each other. Anna is of course hurt and furious, although she doesn’t tell him that, and decides that if he’s going to date and sleep with other people, so is she. That is, if her anxiety and panic attacks don’t get in the way. This is where she crosses paths with Quan and their journey together begins.
I adored Anna. She’s such a sweetheart and I hated that she was going through so much, especially since it was clearly draining her both emotionally and physically. I also really hated her boyfriend and practically jumped for joy when Anna and Quan find each other on a dating app. It’s obvious from their very first conversations that they have so much chemistry and I just loved how patient and understanding Quan was when it came to Anna’s struggles with anxiety. He feels such a strong connection to her and just accepts her exactly as she is. It was so sweet watching the two of them grow closer as the story progressed.
What surprised me about this book was how sad the overall story was at times. It’s a beautiful story and a special one but it also just covers so many heavy topics. In addition to Anna’s struggles with anxiety, there’s also toxic relationships, cancer, the death of a beloved family member, and more. It was definitely not the cheerful story I would have expected based on the cover.
Even with it being a lot sadder than I was expecting, I still loved The Heart Principle overall, especially because it also has growth and healing, and ends on such a positive and uplifting note. If you’ve enjoyed Hoang’s first two books, you’re sure to love this one as well. I also highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance with relatable characters who face very realistic challenges. Read the first two books in the series though so that you meet Quan and his cousin, Michael, who also makes an appearance in this book. 4 STARS
The Charm Offensive Goodreads
Author: Alison Cochrun
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun is a heartwarming romance that features a sexy but awkward tech guru named Charlie who is in serious need of an image revamp. He chooses to do this by playing the part of Prince Charming on Ever After, a popular reality TV dating show. It is there he meets the other star of this book, Dev Deshpande, a producer on the show who is tasked with making Charlie less painfully awkward and stiff when he’s on screen.
While the reality TV dating aspect of the show was a lot of fun and filled with plenty of hilarious antics, what really made this story shine for me was the bond that immediately forms between Charlie and Dev. Dev is so sensitive to Charlie’s OCD, anxiety and awkwardness and really does everything he can to put him at ease and keep him calm. Dev is also a romantic who believes in happily ever afters and that he can help Charlie find love. As the filming of the show progresses, however, it becomes clear that Charlie has forged more of a meaningful connection with Dev than he has with any of the women vying for his affections. What does this mean for Charlie and his image rehab and what does it mean for Dev and his job? He’s supposed to be helping Charlie find love, not fall in love with Charlie himself.
This was such an adorable romance. Both Charlie and Dev are sweethearts and it’s impossible not to root for them to just put themselves out there and go for their happily ever after. I also enjoyed that the story also had a nice balance of weightier topics to complement the romance: self-doubt, discovering one’s sexual identity, mental illness, rejection, and an exploration of the often toxic nature of reality TV, just to name a few.
The only real issue I had with this book was that the pacing was a bit slow for me in the first half. I think it’s mainly because once I became invested in Charlie and Dev, I just wanted them to get on with it already and so the reality TV filming just felt like it was distracting me from what I wanted. That’s just a me thing though because I get impatient sometimes when the romance is a slow burn. The ending of the story is so precious and so satisfying, however, that it totally made up for the slow-ish beginning.
Funny, heartwarming, and touching, The Charm Offensive is sure to please romance fans who enjoy books like Red, White, and Royal Blue and Boyfriend Material. 4 STARS