⇒“He could give her every thing she wanted, a green card, real diamonds, his body, but love? Stone hearts didn’t love.” -The Bride Test by Helen Hoang ⇐
Author: Helen Hoang
(3.91 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover (BOTM Edition)
Publication Date: May 7, 2019, by Berkley
Pages: 296 (Hardcover)
He was strange and tactless and very possibly an assassin, but when she looked at his actions, all she saw was kindness.
Whenever I’m reading a romance novel, I look for a hook that draws me in – something different from the usual tropes that we’re all so used to. I’ve done the difficult woman/heart-of-gold man thing, the playboy-meets-wholesome-girl thing, and the rich girl/poor guy vice-versa thing countless times before.
But when I read the blurb on the inside jacket of The Bride Test, I knew I was holding something a little different. An MC with autism… in a romance novel? And a hardworking immigrant mother who is determined to do everything she can to provide a better life for her daughter? I’m in! Before I get too far ahead of myself and give the whole story away, let’s check out the blurb…
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.
She couldn’t cry. She was supposed to be happy for the both of them because he didn’t know how.
I hate when this happens, but so often I can’t help it; I start reviewing a book before I’m even done with it. I’m writing the review in my head even as I’m reading the words on the page. It’s distracting, and it’s not fair – especially if I’m nowhere close to the last page.
The premature review-writing usually occurs when I am not at all interested in what’s going on in the pages in front of me. It’s my brain moving on to the next task because it’s bored or supremely dissatisfied.
But by the time I closed the back cover on The Bride Test, I realized that I had no idea what I was going to write in this review. I hadn’t thought about it at all – the book kept me that engaged. In fact, I probably could have finished this book in one sitting if I didn’t have to spend the rest of my time adulting!
Love wasn’t complicated. You either felt it or you didn’t. There was nothing to “figure out”.
So since I didn’t spend half the book ruminating over what I was going to say about it, I had time to really enjoy reading it! The things I enjoyed most are the unconventional main characters, the way the author lets the action play out without over-explaining, and especially how she develops Esme into a wonderful example of strength and self-determination.
I wanted to give it at least one more star than I did; however, there are some important plot points that Hoang glossed over and left readers hanging with even after the epilogue. That’s grating to me – there shouldn’t be a lot of questions at the end of a standalone romance novel! That’s not allowed!
But 3.5 stars is a very respectable rating and I stand by it. This was a good book and I would recommend it to others, especially those who like a little saucy with their sweet (how many authors can successfully make a haircut seem sexy?)! Check it out and see if you have the same questions at the end that I do (and if you end up day-dreaming about sexy men with dimples and teacher glasses!).
Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish. -Bio from Goodreads