The Law of the Heart

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Pub Date 1 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 15 Aug 2021
Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing

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Description

Their love is against the laws of a merciless state—but the heart has its own power.

For rollercoaster designer Theo, living on the edge is just part of the job. He’s used to wandering the world perfecting thrills, his heart immune to commitment. But then a commission in repressive North Korea exposes him to emotions he’s never dared to feel.

Tour guide Min has a soul that wants to soar, but she knows it’s safer to build walls around her heart and mind. Skilled in showcasing the mesmerising beauty of capital city Pyongyang without revealing its darker secrets, she introduces Theo to a country he will never forget—and begins to question her policy of quiet compliance.

But forgetting—or pretending to—is the key to survival for Min’s formidable grandmother Cuckoo. After a devastating heartbreak years ago, she learned that passion and oppression just don’t mix.

As Min and Theo grow closer and long-held secrets come to light, all three are forced to confront emotions they’ve tried to suppress. In a country where following their hearts will put them in danger, how much are they willing to risk?

Their love is against the laws of a merciless state—but the heart has its own power.

For rollercoaster designer Theo, living on the edge is just part of the job. He’s used to wandering the world...


A Note From the Publisher

Boris Starling is an award-winning author, screenwriter and journalist who has appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list for both fiction and non-fiction. He has written seven crime novels, five full-length non-fiction books (including, as a ghostwriter, the autobiography of British and Irish Lions rugby captain Sam Warburton) and twenty shorter non-fiction books. He created the Messiah TV series, which he adapted from his first novel and which ran for five seasons on BBC1. His other screen credits include The Kid, The Defector and Blood Over Water. He lives with his wife, children, greyhounds and chickens in West Dorset.

Boris Starling is an award-winning author, screenwriter and journalist who has appeared on the Sunday Times bestseller list for both fiction and non-fiction. He has written seven crime novels, five...


Advance Praise

“A heartbreaking yet life-affirming story of forbidden love woven through the extraordinary backdrop of North Korea. I loved everything about it.” —Clare Pooley, author of The Authenticity Project


“A heartbreaking yet life-affirming story of forbidden love woven through the extraordinary backdrop of North Korea. I loved everything about it.” —Clare Pooley, author of The Authenticity Project



Available Editions

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ISBN 9781542028110
PRICE £8.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 8 members


Featured Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley, the publishers, and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I struggled to get in to this story but the more I read the more I got drawn in. This story while slow is a beautiful tale of family and love.

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The Law of the Heart, by Boris Starling, is at once an incredibly beautiful and hauntingly heartbreaking love story. The author spirits us away to North Korea "showing" us the beautiful, the bad and the ugly. We're given a glimpse into what it might be like living the North Korean life for the last 70 years. This is a great book for anyone who's interested in history, love and engineering. Theo is a rollercoaster genius and living on the edge is part of the job, not his life. He travels the world perfecting thrills but he isn't interested in commitment. Then a job in authoritarian North Korea ends up exposing him to emotions he never thought that he could feel. Min is one of his tour guides. She has a spirit that wants to fly but she knows it’s not safe to let down the walls she's built. Skilled in emphasizing the captivating beauty of the capital, Pyongyang, without revealing North Korea's darker side, she shows Theo a country that he won't ever forget. Soon she finds herself beginning to question the policy of quiet acquiescence. Pretending to forget has always been the key to Min's wise grandmother's, survival. Over the years she's suffered devastating heartbreak and she's learned to suppress her passion. As Min and Theo bond and old secrets come to light, they're all forced to face emotions that they’ve always repressed. In a country where its dangerous to follow your heart they find themselves in danger. They're forced to decide how much they're willing to risk?

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A slow burner at first that got better as it went along, sadly it seemed to drag on which even though it was an enjoyable read, took awy from that slightly

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Not an easy book to read considering the horrors of North Korea, yet a solid reminder that there are good people trapped there. Min was a lovely young woman and I rooted for her yet I suspected from the beginning that this book wouldn’t have a happy ending. Even so, the writing and the characters drew me in.

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a wondefully written book, but while reading i kept asking myself if this is the author's story to tell? not my place to comment or get mad, but still. the writing was so lyrical, the characters were very well crafted. i especially loved cockoo, she was such a complex character. the love story, however, seemed a bit insta-lovey which took away from the book's credibility. would someone that's taught strangers are bad since she was a little kid fall in love with a stranger? would she risk herself and her family for a couple months of "love"?

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I'm not an expert on romance fiction. Quite the opposite - I haven't read much of it and am not acquainted with the subtleties of the genre at all. However, I am very interested in everything North Korea and especially of works that try portraying the country and its members in more humane light. Boris Starling's first romantic novel being a love story set in the Hermit Kingdom, I thoughtI had finally found a romantic fiction that might be up my alley. Well, I was wrong. There's no two ways to say this. The writing here is cheesy and bad. While a certain amount of goosebumps-inducing sentences are probably to be expected from every romance novel, it seems like Starling has aimed at reaching new levels of cringe. Just one among hundreds of examples from a random page: "She wanted him to go and never return: she wanted him to stay and never leave." Yes, I get goosebumps while reading it but for all the wrong reasons. Also, such a blatant writing does not fit the supposedly hidden relationship filled with subtle displays of love, as that between the two main characters. Setting aside the quality of the writing itself, what the book seems to "tell" the reader is also questionable to say the least. First, the North Koreans painted as some kind of puppets who need their eyes opened by foreign (white) power, as we see Theo does to Min. This is wrong on many levels not only because it renders the people somewhat idiotic and lacking agency, but also the foreign forces as the only ones capable of "saving" the country. On another level, the novel perpetuates the orientalist view of an "East" in which the women are subservient and weak and need a white male "savior" to open their eyes. This patriarchal and sexist view on love, coupled with the somewhat condescending portrayal of North Koreans and cliched representation of the country makes "The Law of the Heart" a very difficult to recommend.

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The law of the heart was a gripping read from start to finish. For rollercoaster designer Theo, living on the edge is just part of the job. He’s used to wandering the world perfecting thrills, his heart immune to commitment. But then a commission in repressive North Korea exposes him to emotions he’s never dared to feel. Tour guide Min has a soul that wants to soar, but she knows it’s safer to build walls around her heart and mind. Skilled in showcasing the mesmerising beauty of capital city Pyongyang without revealing its darker secrets, she introduces Theo to a country he will never forget—and begins to question her policy of quiet compliance. But forgetting—or pretending to—is the key to survival for Min’s formidable grandmother Cuckoo. After a devastating heartbreak years ago, she learned that passion and oppression just don’t mix. As Min and Theo grow closer and long-held secrets come to light, all three are forced to confront emotions they’ve tried to suppress. In a country where following their hearts will put them in danger, how much are they willing to risk? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Theo designs rollercoasters for a living, and receives the dubious honour of being invited to North Korea to design a rollercoaster as the centrepiece of a theme park celebrating the country. Adjusting to a country so very different from his own takes time, and he is guided through it by Min, a young North Korean woman who works as a guide for foreign visitors, to ensure they see the best of the country, and to make sure they do not do any of the many things that they are not allowed to do. The setting of the book alone is fascinating - the depiction of North Korea feels like it could be straight out of a science fiction dystopian novel. I loved the way the book was written, Theo and Min's developing friendship laid against the reminiscences of Min's grandmother Cuckoo of her own husband, whom she lost in the Korean war, and never moved on from that heartbreak. It's beautifully written, subtle but stays in the mind long after the last page was read, leaving the reader to reflect on the different forms that love takes. With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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The Law of the Heart is a gripping, emotional, captivating and emotional novel – one of the best I’ve read in a long time! Min is a tour guide in modern-day, Communist North Korea and is fully committed to representing her country in its best light. A true believer in the ideals of the regime and not one to question the status quo. Theo is an award-winning roller coaster designer looking for a change. When his boss asks him to take the job in North Korea, he is reluctant to say the least, but decides to go for it. As a punishment for allowing some foreign tourists to behave in a “disrespectful” fashion on a tour, Min and her work partner are assigned to keep strict watch over Theo’s comings and goings from his hotel to the sight of the theme park where he is designing his coaster. Min and Theo inevitably get to know each other and, much to their surprise, each find in the other someone who understands them - their hopes, their dreams, their motivations. In a land where all foreigners are suspect, this is a love affair that is not allowed. Follow along with Min and Theo as they find each other – and find themselves – in a passion that cannot come to pass. Filled with beautiful North Korean scenery, fascinating history, intriguing roller coaster design, and a story that you just want to sink right into. Put this one on your TBR and book club list today! Wondering where you can get a copy of The Law of the Heart? Support your indie bookshops and get your copy on BookShop.org – the online bookstore that gives 75% the book’s profit margin back to independent bookshops, contributing over $15 million since opening in 2020. A big thank you to Boris Starling, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for providing an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review. #TheLawOfTheHeart #BorisStarling #LakeUnionPublishing #BookClubs #NetGalley #GeneralFiction #WomensFiction

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