All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

on July 4, 2019

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2)
Helen Hoang
Allen & Unwin
2019, 296p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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 absolutely loved The Kiss Quotient last year – it was probably my break out surprise hit. I thought I would enjoy it but I didn’t realise just how much I would absolutely love it. So when I discovered that there were more stories within this ‘world’ coming, they quickly became some of my most anticipated releases, The Bride Test for this year and a third book, which will be Quan’s story (yes!) presumably coming next year.

In this book we meet Esme, a mixed-race woman living in Ho Chi Minh City where she works as a cleaner in a fancy hotel. Esme is the daughter of a single mother and is also a single mother herself and there’s not much she wouldn’t do to better the life of her child. So when a wealthy Vietnamese woman living in America sizes her up and offers her an opportunity, Esme has to sleep on it but in the end she decides to take it. The woman has taken it upon herself to find her son Khai a wife and she thinks Esme will be the perfect fit.

Khai is a bit different, due to his Autism Spectrum Disorder. He’s not good with people and he has certain ways that people must interact with him if they’re going to touch him. Esme doesn’t know what ASD means and so she doesn’t see it as something that defines Khai, as a reason for why he is the way that he is. She just sees Khai and although they get off to a bit of a rocky start (Khai’s mother springs both Esme and the whole arranged marriage thing on him), Khai cannot deny that he finds her very attractive. Their enforced living together slowly smooths itself out and they get to know each other. But Khai believes he can’t fall in love, that he doesn’t feel anything and Esme is keeping her young daughter a secret so there are many bumps on their road to happiness.

I enjoyed so much about this! I love the extended, busy Vietnamese-American family that Khai is part of and their interactions with each other. It’s summer, so the season of weddings – Khai has a lot of family weddings he’ll have to attend and so his mother reasons that he may as well take Esme, given she’s here! I liked Khai getting used to having someone like Esme in his space and dealing with her cooking and the way she makes him eat breakfast when usually he’d just chow down a protein bar and rush off to work. Slowly Esme, with her kindness and care, infiltrates Khai’s life and even when Khai messes up (and he messes up often) she has a lot of capacity to forgive and understand, working through issues and Khai’s struggle with things like emotional intimacy. I also liked that the sex was definitely not perfect their first time and that Khai had a lot to learn….and most importantly, that he was willing to learn it! He went to Quan for advice and it was something he took seriously. For someone who seemed very strongly convinced of his inability to care, he was always very aware of when he had hurt Esme’s feelings and that he didn’t want to do that and he wanted to make her feel better. Khai had a definite learning curve of despite what people had perhaps made him believe in his life, he did have a great capacity to love – and indeed already did love perhaps without realising it. There were different types of love and Khai might not have expressed this verbally but he had actions etc that definitely displayed his capacity. Another thing I liked – Esme was given an opportunity to come to America and marry someone but that wasn’t her only plan. She was willing to see where it went for the sake of bettering her daughter’s life but she also took the opportunity and did more with it, getting her GED and seeing about college. She also worked in Khai’s mother’s restaurant as well. Esme definitely was able to make the most of a random, once in a lifetime sort of offer and try and better her circumstances in the best ways she could, even if it didn’t work out with Khai.

This was fun – charming and well written with warmth and sensitivity. I am so looking forward to the next book!

8/10

Book #98 of 2019

 


One response to “Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

  1. […] book was definitely quite high on my priority list last year. And yes! I did read it. My review. I enjoyed this, but not quite as much as The Kiss […]

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