Thank you so much to the publisher for approving me for an eARC of The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. All thoughts and opinions stated throughout the review are my own and are no way impacted by receiving a copy of the book.
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Dates Read: February 14th to February 15th, 2019
Genre: romance, adult, contemporary
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.
Helen Hoang’s sophomore novel The Bride Test follows the success of her freshman novel The Kiss Quotient. I expected to fall in love with The Bride Test, just as I did the first novel. I am so happy to say that is exactly what happened. I truly fell in love with this book and even the cultural differences throughout this book was so interesting to read.
The Bride Test is written in dual perspective following Esme and Khai. Khai is autistic – as was a main character in The Kiss Quotient – and the way that Helen Hoang portrays autism is so interesting. She does not write in a rigid and formula like sense, but instead makes sure to portray them in different ways, which is true for diagnosis. Nothing presents itself in identical ways.
The premise of this book is that Khai’s mother wants him to get married. Khai does not want to get married, however, the mum simply does not care. Esme is a mixed girl in Ho Chi Minh City, a single mother and is a cleaner at a hotel. It is there that she meets Khai’s mother who is holding interviews for girls to see who will have the honour of possibly marrying her son. Esme is swept off to America in a great flourish, unfamiliar with the language and even the idea of autism. It is there that the characters develop feelings and we follow their journey as they learn a bit about themselves too.
To start off, Esme was a fabulous character. A single mum who supports herself through housekeeping is so familiar to me. She takes this opportunity in hopes it will lead to a better life for her daughter, mother and grandmother. When she finds Khai rebuffing her sexual advances she takes it upon herself to study English and to educate herself – an opportunity she had never had in her home country. She takes advantage of every opportunity she is presented and her emotional turmoil as she experiences America was so refreshing and raw. I did wish there was more mentions of her daughter or just more inclusions. I feel that Esme went to America and it was like Jade did not exist anymore – there were only a few mentions of her since she was keeping her a secret from Khai. I would have liked her to be more open about her daughter, however, I think it might have been more so a cultural thing? I’m not too sure, ultimately.
Khai was an absolute sweetheart. He does not believe he can love, however, he loves so much without ever realising. The way he feels about both his family and Esme was truly heartbreaking. It was incredibly interesting to get his perspective throughout the story – to see how he was handling Esme’s pursuits. Not only that but to see his family dynamic. It was truly something I enjoyed reading.
Overall, The Bride Test wasn’t on the same level as The Kiss Quotient but it was still incredibly enjoyable. I still recommend Helen Hoang’s books immensely and I will be anxiously awaiting the release of the next one. I think that she has a big future ahead in the romance world and I can’t wait to see what else she writes.
Happy reading everyone!
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