Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
Nothing fills my chilly little heart with warmth than a swoon-worthy romantic comedy that oozes with charm and humour. Please, I can assure you that even the coldest of hearts, especially mine, can be thawed and thus far, Helen Hoang has managed to melt this ice brick of a heart that I have.
The Bride Test is easily one of my most-anticipated reads of 2019 and after reading it, I couldn’t help but love it with all my heart because what’s not to love when an author comes for your feelings with characters that are so nuanced and full of heart, relationship dynamics that will make you clutch at your heart and sigh contently. Another thing that makes me love her books—yes, Helen has written two books so far and if you’ve not read The Kiss Quotient, may I ask what you’re doing with your life?—is that her heroes are such cinnamon rolls and I can safely say that it’s definitely 2/2 now! I have no doubt that readers fell hard for Michael Phan in The Kiss Quotient, but guys, it is time for you to see what an amazing guy Khai is.
If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, you’ll recognise the name Khai, obviously. Just a wee recap of who Khai is. You remember Michael’s cousin who is “just like Stella” from the first book? Khai, the younger brother of the mischievously, devilishly handsome Quan? Yep, the same Khai that is the hero in The Bride Test who is going to steal your hearts. But what am I saying? I would gladly give him my heart, this precious man child.
The Bride Test follows the story of a struggling single mother, My, who later goes by the name Esme, when the opportunity to live in America presents itself as a proposition: win the heart of a specific Vietnamese man. Yep, you’ve guessed it! It’s Khai. When Khai’s mother offers My a chance for a better life for her daughter and her family, she takes it on, because being a country girl in Vietnam and struggling to make end’s meet is hard work. And all she has to do is make Khai fall in love with her.
In The Bride Test, the book opens with a tragic event that affects Khai so deeply that it remains etched in Khai’s heart throughout the events of the book, thus ultimately causes him to believe that he’s incapable of love. Before you say “Oh, poor Khai! Bless his poor heart!”, don’t worry, because The Bride Test is such an emotionally charged story that will make your heart feel like it’s bursting with love when the characters get their happy ever after.
As Khai is autistic, I felt that the autism representation is accurate as I have worked with children on the autism spectrum and I have to give credit where it’s due. After all, The Bride Test is an #OwnVoices book, written by an author who has autism. It was enlightening and humanising to read the experiences people with autism deal with on a daily basis and I am pleased that it added so much more depth in the story as readers are given glimpses into the mind of Khai. Another thing that is worth highlighting is Esme’s experience as a migrant in the States, where she barely speaks English and she’s brave enough to leave her family behind, including her daughter, in hopes for a better future for her and her daughter.
All in all, if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth in, I strongly recommend The Bride Test as Helen Hoang’s sophomore novel dazzles as it’s an utterly adorable and heartwarming rom com that will have you rooting for Esme and Khai. With its undeniable charm, Helen Hoang’s latest love story will have you swooning from left to right. I will be on tenterhooks, waiting eagerly for Quan’s story because it’s practically impossible for someone not to love Helen Hoang’s books! And men.