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Helen Hoang rose so quickly to fame as a contemporary romance author because her characters always feel so real and lived-in. The Heart Principle is the third in her series that started with The Kiss Quotient. Like Stella in The Kiss Quotient, the main character Anna of The Heart Principle has autism spectrum disorder. However, she is diagnosed as an adult and it helps her understand her relationships and where she’s been compromising herself in favor of pleasing other people. Finding books like The Heart Principle will keep you entertained with books for weeks at a time.
When Anna goes on a break with her longtime boyfriend (who doesn’t seem super interested in her happiness), she tries for a one-night stand with Quan Diep, who wants to get back into the casual dating game after surgery and a long recovery period. Their mutual disinterest in a long-term relationship doesn’t hold very well when they keep meeting up and giving each other emotional support and affection.
The joys of The Heart Principle lie in many different parts of the book. Anna and Quan start their relationship by texting and watching nature documentaries together. Then, their relationship grows through their failed attempts at a one-night stand. While Anna is discovering a new part of herself in her autism spectrum disorder, Quan helps her stop masking and ask for what she wants out of her relationships. Even with all of their good communication, they have to overcome some difficult parts of their respective pasts before they can be together completely.
If you’re looking for a book like The Heart Principle, there are a few fun plot threads to follow out to different reads. Anna and Quan make an agreement to have a one night stand that keeps getting derailed by their feelings for each other. Another huge part of The Heart Principle is both Anna and Quan learning to accept themselves and open up to each other: Anna with her diagnosis, and Quan with his post-surgery recovery. They also have an adorable and nerdy texting relationship in between one-night stand attempts. If you’re looking for a book like The Heart Principle, you probably want something with crackling energy between the main characters, exploring pleasure, a little bit of miscommunication, and a lot of heart.
When The Best Laid Plans Go Awry
The Dating Plan by Sara Desai
Don’t you hate it when you have to set aside your carefully laid career plans to get fake-engaged to the man who broke your heart when you were young? With her family hounding her for marriage, Daisy decides to ask Liam, her former crush, to be her fake fiancé to get her family off her back so she can focus on her career. Liam is in a predicament that also requires marriage, so he agrees. Their fake dating scheme causes Daisy to reconsider her career-only lifestyle.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
The one commonality for all writers, no matter what genre, is writers’ block. Two writers, January the romantic and Gus the literati, figure this out over the summer when they’re both trying to kickstart their writing brains. Driven by frustration, they decide to swap genres and see who can do it better. Switching leads to more understanding, tension, and release than either could have expected.
Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai
An agreement for one steamy night rarely stays confined to the one night of passion. Nicholas and Livvy are from rival families and should not be getting together, which is part of the thrill of their illicit meet-ups. Even though they’ve committed to moving on and living their lives, they can’t put aside their mutual attraction and the one-time nature of their “thing” falls apart.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Academia is a punishing profession, but Olive Smith is doing her best to make it in an uber-competitive biology department. When Olive’s friend Anh tries to get her out and about, Olive says she will but really stays in the lab, which causes her to begin a fake relationship with the department’s scariest professor, Dr. Adam Carlsen. Despite how scary and intimidating he seems, Adam’s patient support of Olive’s career anxieties helps her see him and herself in a new light.
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Catalina’s sister’s wedding is more high-stakes than the average family wedding. To keep her family off her back, she had told a little lie about having a boyfriend to keep her hyper-interested Spanish family off her back. She has to find someone to pose as her boyfriend, and in limited time, the only person she can find is her nemesis, Aaron Blackford. All of the “we’ll do this one time and move on” assurances can’t stop the crackling energy between them.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Starring on a reality show about falling in fairytale love doesn’t mean Charlie is interested in the whole concept of a storybook happily ever after. His producer Dev is absolutely great at giving the watchers of Ever After an engaging and truthful-looking love story, even if he can’t get his own love life together. The producer-star relationship becomes more than just that, they have to figure out if their loyalties lie with the show or their own hearts.
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Getting recognized for her creative pursuits is what Tessa Johnson always wanted, but when she starts her creative writing program, words fail. Since she wants to write romance novels for people like her to see themselves in love, she decides to run down a list of romantic pursuits to live out the perfect romance novel in real life. Her chosen love interest, Nico, seems perfect, but she can’t get her neighbor Sam out of her head completely.
I Wasn’t Looking For Love
Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
The third in a series of interconnected romances (like Hoang’s work), this story follows Margot Cooper, who has all but given up on serious relationships, but feels the need to try again after her friends have all coupled up. Margot then immediately runs into her first love, Olivia, reeling from a recent divorce. Through some romcom machinations, Olivia ends up living with Margot, and feelings reemerge.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Being an amazing neurosurgeon isn’t enough for Trisha Raje’s rich and successful family: she messed up when she was young and they still haven’t gotten over it. She also has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth. DJ Caine is a chef without the privilege of the Raje family, so he and Trisha butt heads hard. Dealing with family and how it shapes her biases is a big challenge for Trisha, while DJ has to come push to be treated with respect by Trisha. When she comes to the rescue to help his sister, they both have to put aside petty squabbling.
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez
Vanessa Price was living the influencer dream, until she had to take custody of her half-sister’s baby. As her life turns upside down, she gets unexpected help from the hot lawyer next door, Adrian, and his elderly Chihuahua. The budding relationship between these two has quite a few hurdles to clear, first and foremost Vanessa’s reluctance to get into a real relationship and trust someone with her whole heart.
Witch Please by Ann Aguirre
Danica Waterhouse is a witch whose family has too many opinions about her love life. Titus Wannamaker is a baker down the street stuck under a romantic curse. When he and Danica meet, she’s only looking for fun and no commitment, but Titus feels real love and wants to pursue it. The catch is that he’s mundane, and Danica is dealing with a whirlwind of family issues in addition to her personal aversion to commitment.
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
Dealing with viral fame is not easy for Naomi Grant, especially when it comes to finding a job in higher education. Ethan Coen is a newly minted rabbi tasked with turning his synagogue into a great community destination in three months. They join forces for a series on modern intimacy to prove Naomi and Ethan’s bonafides. However, what was supposed to be a simple seminar series becomes a space for connection.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Finishing a PhD requires a big blowout, but Grace Porter didn’t exactly mean marrying a woman she had never even met before her Las Vegas trip. Even though she has achieved all the markers of a successful life as defined by her family, like Anna in The Heart Principle, she needs a shake-up. Now that she’s married a woman she hardly knows, she leaves the west coast to join her new, unknown wife in New York. This is more Grace’s story than a romance story, focusing on the growing pains of the late 20s era and its many difficulties.
Talking It Out
The Hate Project by Kris Ripper
Even if Jack and Oscar kind of hate each other, they did have one pretty great night together. Instead of successfully avoiding each other, they’re thrown together by circumstance, with Jack as Oscar’s boss. Oscar is assisting Jack with digging up everything in Jack’s grandma’s house and sorting it all out. All of this time together forces them to understand their differences and stop denying their intense mutual attraction.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
If you’re invested in Anna and Quan’s texting relationship in The Heart Principle, Penny and Sam build their relationship entirely through texting. Both are dealing with life changes, feeling hemmed in by circumstances, and generally anxious about forming new connections, so they pour out their anxieties and desires to each other over text messages. Staying in a textual relationship makes sense for Penny and Sam for a time, but they manage to find a way to move forward.
Finding More Principled Hearts
If you went down a similar rabbit hole of books after enjoying The Kiss Quotient, finding even more reads after these books like The Heart Principle might be an absolute necessity. Book Riot’s TBR service matches you with a bibliologist who is well-versed in all the new releases to satisfy your genre cravings. If you’re in need of tailored book recommendations to meet your reading goals, seek out new genres, or just find more enjoyable books, TBR is the best gift for yourself or your bookish friends.
Dive into the themes of The Heart Principle even further for readalikes with books about autism by authors in the autism spectrum disorder, books about going viral, and a ton of contemporary romance stories.