LiP Romancelandia

The Bride Test Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...
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.

Review: The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang

[fa icon="calendar"] May 5, 2019 10:45:00 AM / by Ana Coqui

Chastised for being unable to cry at his best-friend and cousin’s funeral, Khải comes to believe that he is unnaturally unfeeling, unable to love. Khải is actually autistic, a diagnosis his immigrant Vietnamese family mostly ignores, instead thinking him as simply a little strange. In Vietnam, My/Esme is just a bit strange too, but in her Khải’s mother sees the perfect bride for her son - humble, hard-working and honest.

While The Bride Test is at points quite funny, at its center it is a deeply emotional story about familial bonds and an immigrant's desperate striving to make a better life for herself and her family. Hoang parallels My’s experiences as a new immigrant trying to figure out the rules of a new culture as an outsider to Khải’s autism and his efforts to navigate the feelings and reactions he doesn’t fully understand. Both My and Khải have to work very hard to decode each other’s feelings and intentions, working to overcome their differing cultural expectations and learn each other boundaries.

The book was marvelously tense, with the countdown to the expiration of My’s visa at the end of the summer never far from either of their minds, especially as they become intimately involved. Sex and their inexperience at intimacy, while at points humorous, is also deeply serious. I loved how Hoang gently built up their rapport, and how it heightened the stakes every time there was a misunderstanding or setback. In the end, they both understand each other better and do more for each other than they ever dared to expect.

While I struggled to get started with The Kiss Quotient, I couldn’t put down The Bride Test, racing breathlessly to the final chapters because I needed to know if Khải and My/Esme would get the HEA they both richly deserve. I wasn’t disappointed. It was perfect.

 

Content Warnings: Ableism, depression

 

Ana received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

Topics: review