Goodreads: The Bride Test
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Chick Lit
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…
I started this book for a group read with @travelingfriendsreads on Instagram. If I had no plans on the day I started this, I would’ve undoubtedly stayed poolside all day to finish reading it. As it was, I had to put it down and do things, but I was counting down the hours until I could pick it up again the whole time! This was such a fast, fun and sexy read. As an Asian, I find it so great to be able to read romances about Asians/Asian-Americans. Although I initially found the thought of Esme being a mail-order-bride not only stereotypical but intensely cringeworthy, I should have known that Helen Hoang would never have let it stoop to that level, so fear not book friends, this one is definitely a goodie! This wasn’t as sexy as Hoang’s debut novel, The Kiss Quotient, but I still found it fairly steamy (in the best way, obviously)!
I really enjoyed the characters and the chemistry between Khai and Esme was seriously electric! Like, it was palpable and it was really fun to see how their relationship evolved. It doesn’t happen overnight, but considering the time limitation of Esme’s visa, it happened faster than would probably be realistic. Although the speed in which they fall for each other is balanced out quite nicely by the ending! I thought their character development was done well. As someone on the spectrum, who “doesn’t feel and think the same way as others do”, Khai doesn’t believe he deserves love or is capable of giving love. He experienced the loss of someone he was very close to when he was young and since then he has been ‘stuck’ in that zone of no feelings. I can’t speak to the accuracy of how Hoang wrote Khai’s character, but I did find it interesting to read a romance from this perspective, and to see how Khai interacts with others and how he views and experiences romantic relationships. It was really heartwarming and satisfying to watch him slowly open up and learn to accept that he can love and be loved in return.
Esme was such a smart, strong and independent young woman and I was rooting for her the whole time! Although she and Khai were in many ways completely different, they were also wonderfully compatible and complementary. I was so pleased to see her stand up for herself and to go after what she wanted to improve her life by learning a new language and pursuing a degree; especially when things with Khai looked rocky AF. There’s a key aspect of her character that might be considered a spoiler, although you basically learn about it in the first few pages, so I won’t mention it specifically here, except to say that I wish this relationship in her life played a bigger role in the story. Especially considering how it was one of Esme’s main motivations. Probably the most unrealistic parts of this book occurred at the end — when huge life-changing secrets were revealed in the most casual manner and so readily accepted without thought. Literally no one batted an eye and it was eye-roll worthy.
If there’s one thing that I wished was discussed more was the perception of autism within Asian circles. In many Asian countries, you don’t ever hear people talking about the spectrum. It’s not exactly a taboo topic, but it’s something that many don’t understand or want to understand because it’s something to be pitied or just ignored completely. This was kind of demonstrated by Esme, who had no idea what autism was, when Quan mentioned it for the first time. I hoped that she would take active steps to learn about it and to understand more about Khai in light of her new knowledge, but I was disappointed when that didn’t happen.
That said, this book had me breaking out in continuous laughter with the character’s random quirks and funny and endearing interactions. Michael (from TKQ) also makes a small appearance in the story and it was such a cute little scene between Khai, Michael and Quan. And SPEAKING OF, can we talk about how much I LOVED Quan?! I’m hoping that Helen Hoang is writing his story next coz I’m sure he’s won the hearts of all the readers with this book and honestly, I just want more of him! IMO, there was very little to dislike about this one. It definitely lived up to the hype for me! If you’re saving this for the summer, I’ll say there’s no better time to read it; it’s definitely the perfect beachside or poolside companion. I’m so looking forward to reading what Hoang comes out with next (**cough**Quan’s story!**cough**)! 😉
Have you read The Bride Test (or The Kiss Quotient)? Is it on your TBR? Would love to your thoughts on it! Happy reading, book friends 🙂