The Bride Test
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.
HOLY CRAP, this book. I have to start by saying that I’m really angry at all the reviews saying they didn’t like The Bride Test because it wasn’t The Kiss Quotient. OF COURSE IT’S NOT! If you want to read The Kiss Quotient again, then go reread it. With The Bride Test, Helen Hoang gives us a brand new love story with an autistic hero and a heroine who is just… Gosh, I can’t even begin to describe my love and the amount of rooting for Esme I’ve got going on. Seriously, read the author’s note at the end of the book – Esme was originally a side character and a complication for a love triangle in the original plot, but she was SO real and determined and earnest that Helen Hoang had to scrap her original book idea and rewrite it to feature Esme as the heroine. She refused to be treated as unworthy or a second class citizen, and I can’t help but stand up and applaud this fictional character for being sweet and ballsy as hell at the same time.
Helen Hoang has a knack for writing characters that are so intensely relatable, even though their experiences and backgrounds are immensely different from my own. I’m a neurotypical middle-class white woman, but I felt like I could really relate to and care about this high school dropout teen mom from a very poor village in Vietnam and this autistic finance-whiz guy from a crazy extensive and pushy Vietnamese family.
In case you couldn’t already tell, I am head over heels for Esme. I spent this entire book cheering so hard for her to succeed, wanting so badly for her to see how wonderful she is and to learn to value herself. I love the amazing personal growth Esme goes through over the course of this book, and it’s basically got me ready to sing Eye of the Tiger and run up and down some steps in a vigorous training montage or something. Khai is also an amazing character, and I love how clearly Helen Hoang writes his experience with autism, making it understandable and relatable to people who don’t have that experience. And then the chemistry and interactions between Khai and Esme! Oof, so much love. They both do the cutest and most endearing things, and they’re both kind of odd, which I love.
Khai’s mom is also a treasure, and I’d love to meet her and get one of her “carrot-grating” hugs, haha. Khai’s brother Quan’s book is the next in the series (The Heart Principle) and I am SO EXCITED, because HUBBA HUBBA. The scene where he and Michael are having a sex talk with Khai is just hilarious but also really cute.
The Bride Test is billed as being the second book in The Kiss Quotient series, but it absolutely stands on its own. That being said, definitely read both book because they’re both amazing!
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.