Also by this author: The Kiss Quotient
Also in this series: The Kiss Quotient
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Published by Berkley on May 7th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley, Berkley
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 10 hrs
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.
THE BRIDE TEST
by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient was one of my top favorites last year. Helen Hoang was such a beautiful surprise with her quirky, refreshing, crisp writing voice and this wonderful story about a woman on the autism spectrum. I remember that Michael told Stella about his cousin, Khai, who was autistic too – The Bride Test is his story.
As a woman in Vietnam with a toddler at home and little education she doesn’t have much. She lives with her mother and grandmother, sleeps with them in one room on the floor. She works harder than anyone. One day a woman makes her an irresistible offer: to go to the US for a couple of months to live with her son in the hopes that he will marry Esme and live happily ever after. Yeah, doesn’t work that way because Khai is everything but willing.
Esme accepts the offer, hoping that finally she can better herself, that people wouldn’t look down their noses when they looked at her.
“She didn’t need a rich man. She just needed someone who was hers.”
Some readers may find Esme, the heroine of this story, manipulative – just a heads up! And maybe she is but I challenge everyone to walk in her shoes only for a week. Most of us, used to luxuries like a real bed and a shower every day would throw the towel after a few days. She is a fighter with a brave heart and a little sass. Sometimes courage left her for a while, when she had another setback in her life but she always got up, polished her crown and went on being the queen that she was.
Khai thinks his heart is made of stone. When his cousin dies he seems to deal well from his perspective. He doesn’t grieve. He is oddly OK so he believes that he doesn’t feel deeply. When Esme enters his life she teaches him the joy of life he has never felt before.
“In a split second, she redefined perfection for him. His standards aligned to her exact proportions and measurements. No one else would ever live up to her.”
I felt so sad for Khai. He felt so deeply without realizing it. That conundrum, that it gave him so much grief that he thought he couldn’t love at all, was unsolvable for this highly intelligent man. It takes his older brother, who is pushy but means well, to make him take a closer look at everything that happened in his past and with Esme. I loved Khai’s innocence, he was pure and full of love without realizing it. Esme’s sweetness, her light, her kind heart and strength was just what he needed.
“My heart works in a different way, but it’s yours.”
There is one thing that didn’t make much sense to me: Esme believes throughout the story that Khai is a middle class accountant when in fact he is really rich. For some reason it was never brought up or resolved in the end so when you close the book Emse must still believe that Khai is your average accountant. This was a bit of a dropped ball for me but ultimately didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
The Bride Test was wonderfully written. Helen Hoang worked her magic and created beautifully flawed characters who deserve their happy ever after. I’m looking forward to seeing what this author has up her sleeve next!