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Romance Reviews: THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVE

 

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!

 

Romance Reviews:  THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVEThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3) Goodreads

Author: Helen Hoang

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley

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

 

Romance Reviews:  THE HEART PRINCIPLE & THE CHARM OFFENSIVEThe Charm Offensive Goodreads

Author: Alison Cochrun

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher:  Atria Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

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

Early Review: THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang

Early Review:  THE BRIDE TEST by Helen HoangThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Also by this author: The Kiss Quotient
five-stars
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Published by BERKLEY on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 320
Also in this series: The Kiss Quotient
Source: a Blog Giveaway
Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from a Blog Giveaway. All opinions are my own.

 
 
 
 
 
 

THE BRIDE TEST Review

 

After falling in love with Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her newest book, The Bride Test.  I was fortunate enough to win a copy of an ARC in a giveaway at jennifertarheelreader.com and dove into the book this past weekend.  I’ll admit I was a little nervous that The Bride Test wouldn’t be able to live up to my very high expectations, but I’m happy to report that I loved it.  So much so that I devoured the book in less than 24 hours!  In addition to being a really sweet and sexy romance, The Bride Test also features so much more.  It’s also a powerful and heartfelt read that takes on important topics such as grief and mourning, what it’s like to live with autism, and also what it’s like to be an immigrant who comes to America looking for a better way of life.

I adored the main characters, Khai Diep and Esme Tran, from the first moment I met them.  Khai is just precious.  He is autistic and doesn’t think that he is capable of feeling emotions.  He feels nothing while attending the funeral of one of his best friends and just shies away from most relationships because he thinks everyone deserves better than what he can offer them.  Khai’s mother isn’t buying it though.  She  wants grandbabies and makes it her mission in life to find the perfect girl for Khai.  When she has a chance encounter with Esme, a single mom living in Vietnam, she knows Esme is the right girl and makes her a surprising and somewhat shocking offer – she will pay for Esme to come to America if Esme is willing to do whatever it takes to win Khai’s heart.  Esme sees this as her best chance to secure a better life for herself and for her daughter, so she accepts the offer.  Esme won my heart right away because she’s incredibly brave and resourceful, working on a backup plan for herself so that even if things don’t go well with Khai, she has the skills and education she needs to be able to stay in America and bring her daughter over as well.

There’s just so much to love about The Bride Test.  The romance was just so well written.  Esme and Khai are adorably awkward together but still manage to have intense chemistry. I loved how realistic the relationship felt with all of its ups and downs. At the same time, however, Hoang also weaves some wonderful family moments into her story.  Khai’s siblings, Quan and Vy, are wonderful secondary characters and I just loved watching them educate Khai on all matters of the heart.  The family dynamic was so sweet, as they were all so devoted to making sure Khai has every chance at love and happiness.  Hoang’s depiction of autism also felt very authentic, as did her portrayal of what it’s like to be an immigrant in search of the “American Dream.”  Overall, The Bride Test is a very satisfying read in every way and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to everyone.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons

five-stars

About Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.