Oh, boy. Where to start with this one. First off I am…not sure this book is a romance. I was at the 97% mark of this book and I was like…wait …wait…
Without getting too spoilery I will say this book ops for an HFN (Happy For Now) over an HEA. I could see this book deeply disappointing fans of romance. I understand HEAs are required in romance and expected from readers…but I’m not one of those readers. I like something subversive and unexpected so the fact that the book does this without warning is actually a plus for me.
With all that said Heart and Seoul follows Hara Wilson, a Korean transracial adoptee in Iowa, who makes the impulsive decision to find her birth family in Seoul. While searching for her family Hara reconciles with her Korean culture and, for the first time, forms a strong emotional relationship with charming businessman Choi Yujun.
There are several twist and turns as Hara unravels the truth of her past. I liked following along on Hara’s journey and that Frederick never settles for easy answers when it comes to Hara trying to figure out if she belongs in Korea or America. Frederick herself is a Korean adoptee and she really lays out the dilemmas and struggles through Hara’s story.
I did find some of the writing repetitive, we are often reminded of cultural facts and nuances multiple times. It felt like the book didn’t trust the reader to hold on to the information.
When I originally wrote this review I didn’t know what kind of book this was, but I now see on the PRH website that this is an ongoing series that follows the same characters. I wish they would have made this more obvious in the marketing or copy.
I’m going to be honest. I was not feeling the parts of the book where Hara’s white American expat AirBNB roommates were telling her about Korean culture and how she should and should not do things with other Koreans. It felt odd because Hara has/makes Korean friends who can help her navigate this. It felt like they were talking down to her.