Title: Heart and Seoul
Author: Jen Frederick
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 25th, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Books
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!
“From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.
As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.
At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.
What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.” (Goodreads)
I was really excited to be approved for this one as I have been reading quite a few books set in Korea and the blurb just hooked me. I did like a lot of aspects of the book but the ending is really what made the rating a 3 star instead of 4.
Hara is Korean but she hasn’t grown up feeling like it as she was adopted and moved to America when she was young. I couldn’t relate to her on either level as I am white and not adopted but I do like reading about others experiences. It was easy to read and understand why she felt a certain way towards the situations of growing up in an all white community, being adopted, and just all of the not so great comments she got because of it. The topics in the book definitely resemble what is being spoken about now when it comes to the Asian community.
The setting is mostly in Seoul with just the first few chapters being in Iowa which setup the plot and her great escape. I really liked the setting of the book and the author does a great job including information about Seoul or even the language/customs of the people from there. One example of this is the difference between an American and Korean funeral.
I did enjoy most of the side characters but they are also pretty minor. A couple do play a bigger role than the rest but their development was still a bit lacking.
There is romance but if you don’t like slow-burn then it most likely wouldn’t be for you. I did find it to be to my liking and it very much resembles a K-Drama. He was just so nice and perfect!
As with any contemporary/romance book, there is drama. This one had quite a bit but it didn’t turn me off. It kept me engaged and I liked the reveals of the twist as the book went on. I honestly wasn’t expecting half of them! It really kept me on my toes.
My only complaint about this book was the ending. If it’s labeled as a hopeful romance then I would like more closure at the end. I want an HEA. This had such an open-ended ending that I couldn’t look past it and it really affected my rating.
Overall, this was good. I did like a majority of it but that ending just really screwed over the whole book.