The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Although Hoang’s first book, The Kiss Quotient left me a bit disappointed, I enjoyed enough of it that I decided to give the second book in this series a try. Yes, I knew it would be another pretty typical and predictable romance with a bit of unrealistic moments or multiple miscommunications that probably could have been avoided, but what can I say? I’m all for it!
The Bride Test is most outlandish in the premise that Khai’s mother decides to find him a bride by going to Vietnam and after speaking with Esme for a few minutes decides she is the one. So yes, it starts off with Esme coming to America to marry Khai within a couple months, but soon after that it gets a bit more realistic with the way they interact and slowly learn about each other.
This novel succeeded where I feel like the first one lacked in the fact that Khai isn’t suddenly ‘cured’ of his autistic tendencies after the first couple chapters. Throughout the entire book, he struggles with the fact his emotions don’t come as easily as he sees in others. And Esme, being from a poor village and mostly uneducated, has no understanding of autism and although often confused by Khai’s mannerisms she is still patient and understanding. There are some funny and endearing scenes between the two as they try to work around each other without fully understanding their past.
You soon find Khai is very caring and protective of those he cares for, but with his very logical, rational and analytical mind he doesn’t realize he is actually loving others. His brother Quan tries to make him see reason and there are some very funny conversations between the two of them that break up the seriousness of the challenges Khai faces. Both Khai and Esme’s characters are well developed and although there are some steamy scenes, this novel truly focuses on growth and their relationship which made me enjoy this romance all the more.
Synopsis: 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. 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. 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.