Title: The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang
Pub Date: May 7th 2019
My Rating: ★★★★☆
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From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart…
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
Let me start with how high my expectations for this book were: there were sky high! I loved Helen Hoang debut The Kiss Quotient. It was fun, the characters were rich and unique, and the romance was hot. I am happy to report that this book did not disappoint one bit!
The Bride test is about Khai, autistic cousin of Michael from The Kiss Quotient. He is smart, but he thinks he has a heart of stone, he doesn’t believe he can grief or love. He is content with his life of solitude and habits, and he is definitely not interested in pursuing any romantic relationship.
However, Khai’s mother has a different opinion on this case. She travels to Viet Nam to find a wife for her son. And she finds a perfect candidate in Esme, janitor/maid in a hotel, mix-raced girl who lives in one room with her daughter, mother and grandmother. When presented with a chance to go to America, and they to seduce Khai, she hesitates only little before taking the opportunity. If successful, she may find her American father, find love and give her family a new, better life in the land of possibilities.
Both Khai and Esme are amazing characters. They are both unique in their ways, he has his preferred ways of living and interacting with others, and she is determined to find her ways in a world so different than what she knows. The author explores the experience of an immigrant woman in a foreign country, seemingly surrounded by people who share her heritage, but who have such different life experiences. Esme is determined to fight for a better life for her family, she wants to be an example to her daughter, and she doesn’t give up. At no point she takes the opportunity of marriage to American citizen as a simple way of getting a green card, this is not her motivation. She is so much more than her citizenship.
Let me finish the review with the romantic scenes. Oh my god, how good Helen Hoang is at writing gentle and hot sex scenes, they are intimate, and show how hot it is to explore others needs, find their boundaries, and never doing anything without consent. The mix of hot romance and the incredible story of two people discovering what they are capable of is beautiful.
Read my review of author’s debut book: The Kiss Quotient