Heart and Seoul (Seoul Series, #1)by Jen Frederick
Published on May 25, 2021
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 doesnâ€™t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, sheâ€™s reminded that she doesnâ€™t look like anyone else in her familyâ€”not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Patâ€™s new wife and new â€œrealâ€ 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 loveâ€”a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara homeâ€¦or destroy her chance of finding one.
Hara, who grew up in Iowa, is on a journey to trace her Korean roots after taking a DNA test. It matches her with her biological father. She heads to Korea to try to find out more about her past.
The book follows her as she experiences Seoul for the first time, makes friends with people who she is subletting from, and develops a romantic relationship with a man she met at the airport.
There is a lot of perspectives on international adoption on display here. It looks at the issue from the adult adoptee’s viewpoint and also the viewpoint of both the adoptive and biological parents. In this instance both sets of parents are pretty toxic. Her previously strong relationship with her adoptive mother starts to deteriorate rapidly as her mother gets more and more unhinged by her search for her birth parents. This is an aspect of the story that didn’t really make sense to me.
Even though this book is marketed as a romance, it is not. **SPOILER** There is not a happy ending to this book which is a requirement to classify a book as a romance.
Because of the lack of happy ending, I recommend having book 2 of this series available to read soon after the first one.
In this book Hara is dealing with the aftermath of finding her birth family. She’s living in Seoul and trying to fit into her birth mother’s life so as to minimize the scandal. Korean society is not very accepting of women who have placed children for adoption. Her mother’s reputation took a hit when the news broke. Hana is working for her mother to try to portray them as one big happy family who can be trusted to do what it right. However, Hara doesn’t fit in with the rigid structures of a Korean company and may be making things worse.
She befriends a Korean lady who owns a food truck that parks outside her office building. When the truck owner gets sick, Hara starts to wonder if her love of food may be a way out of her job problems.
Both of these books feature a lot of Korean foods. I particularly liked the description of the cafe where everything was strawberry.