The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley on May 7th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
“Em yêu anh yêu em.
Girl loves boy loves girl.”
ARC received via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
The Kiss Quotient was a book that was everywhere last year. People raved about it and it even won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance. I ended up reading it in February and loved it.
The Bride Test is a highly anticipated second book in the Kiss Quotient series. It follows Khai, Michael’s cousin from The Kiss Quotient. He’s Vietnamese-American, autistic, and believes he has no feelings. He avoids relationships so his mother decides to take matters into her own hands and finds him the perfect bride in Vietnam.
As a mixed-race woman living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran is offered the chance to live in California… if only she seduces Khai. She jumps at the opportunity to meet her potential husband and to find her father. Except nothing in love ever goes smoothly.
While I really enjoyed The Bride Test, I just didn’t love it as much as The Kiss Quotient. It fell a little short for me. I didn’t feel like Khai was a fleshed out character and I felt like we only saw growth and development for Esme.
The book felt like it could have benefited with another hundred pages or so. I wanted to see more of Khai and Esme’s lives outside of their relationship. It was kind of disappointing we didn’t get to see more of Khai’s relationship with his mom and his brother. And I wish we had better insight on Khai and Andy’s friendship. It felt random that the friendship was mentioned in the beginning and then somehow became part of the climax of the book.
However, can we talk about how wonderful it was that the female main character doesn’t speak perfect English, who isn’t from a high-level education background is never treated as stupid or lesser than?
It takes her awhile to understand the new social and cultural norms of American life, but people around her are kind and are helpful. They never once sneer at her, make a rude comment, or make a joke at her expense. That’s so refreshing to see and I can’t remember the last time I read that in a book or saw that in a movie or TV show.
It goes back to me saying how Esme was a well developed character. She blossoms with each chapter and shows agency in every scenario she’s put in. She takes charge of her own life!
Another aspect I liked about the book was that Khai being autistic was completely different from Stella in The Kiss Quotient. ASD affects him in other ways and just because he is autistic doesn’t mean he’s exactly like Stella. He’s his own unique person.
Lastly, damn. Hoang knows how to make consent look and feel sexy! I love what she’s doing for the romance genre. Her books are #OwnVoices stories and her characters always consent to those steamy scenes.
I would recommend this to anyone who was a fan of The Kiss Quotient or whoever is looking into trying out the romance genre. It’s cute, fun, and a quick read. The relationship is a slow burn at first, but all the good ones are, right?!