From the moment I discovered Helen Hoang and her first book, The Kiss Quotient, I was forever cemented into the world of contemporary romance. My love for this genre is no doubt the result of devouring all three of Hoang’s books. I loved each of the characters, their stories, and the inclusiveness that I had not seen in books before.
The Kiss Quotient, The Bride Test, and The Heart Principle are technically stand-alone novels, so reading them in order isn’t necessary; however, I feel that reading them in order makes the most sense to understand the dynamics and relationships between the characters that overlap in the books. So let’s get into a mini-review of each book Helen Hoang has written, shall we?
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.
The Kiss Quotient
“There’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.“
Sneak Peek: Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
My Thoughts: First of all, this book is pretty much a gender-reversed Pretty Woman situation, so what’s not to love about that?! But I think this book is more than a cute and steamy romance. I have seen a lot of reviews and comments from other women saying that they have felt understood and accepted reading about someone on the autism spectrum.
I’ve probably read the following paragraph about 50 times and it’s still just as powerful as the first time I read it. A round of applause for this beautifully written masterpiece:
“This crusade to fix herself was ending right now. She wasn’t broken. She saw and interacted with the world in a different way, but that was her. She could change her actions, change her words, change her appearance, but she couldn’t change the root of herself. At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”
Does The Kiss Quotient have the best-developed plot? No. Is “insta-love” my favorite thing? No. But honestly, this book taught me something and put a smile on my face, so to me, that definitely outweighs all of the negativity.
The Bride Test
“Sometimes he was alone out of habit. Sometimes it took effort to distract himself from the growing emptiness inside.”
Sneak Peek: 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.
My Thoughts: Forced proximity/arranged marriage tropes are not my usual go-to, but let me tell you, The Bride Test delivered on this one! This one seemed to be more of a slow burn than the other two, and I have to say, I appreciated the angst!
My heart went out to Khai so many times during this book, and I loved the book’s focus on grief, a topic that is not talked about nearly enough! And Esme, what a ROCKSTAR. Seriously, love this girl, and all that she had to overcome.
Also, the fact that Esme’s journey to the US is loosely based on Helen’s mother and her experience makes this story even sweeter. It’s truly the cherry on top of a huge ice cream sundae!
The Heart Principle
How much of what people say is genuine and how much is politeness? Is anyone really living their life or are we all reading lines from a giant script written by other people?
Sneak Peek: 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, 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.
My Thoughts: As much as I LOVE the previous two books, The Heart Principle is my favorite Helen Hoang book! One of the first things I noticed right away was that unlike the first two, this book was written in first person. It makes the characters deeper and the story that much more personal! Also, beyond the ASD rep, Helen Hoang brings up another topic that society doesn’t like to talk about, chronic illness and caregiving. It’s as if all three of her books build upon each other in talking about uncomfortable topics in the most beautiful ways. She truly puts her heart into these books, and I AM HERE FOR IT!
Have you read any of the books by Helen Hoang? If not, I highly recommend that you do! However, If you have already read them, might I suggest a trio of books by Talia Hibbert? Click here to check it out! One last thing: for more book recs, updates, and reviews, be sure to follow my bookstagram!