From the publisher:
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.
I loved Hoang’s first book, The Kiss Quotient, so much that it made my best books of 2018 list. It is entirely possible that this new one will end up on this year’s favorites list as well. It topped the LibraryReads list for May, and with very good reason.
Hoang has created a niche in the romance genre, or maybe even two; one of her protagonists is autistic, the other is of mixed race.
In this book, she switched things around so our hero is the one on the spectrum, and our heroine is half American, half Vietnamese. But Hoang takes it a step further and really delves into the immigrant experience in America.
Khai is a complex character, as is Esme and I love the character development, it definitely adds to the story and I couldn’t help but root for this couple. Even the secondary characters are interesting, especially Khai’s mother and his brother. We don’t get to know much about Esme’s family as they are still in Vietnam, but we learn her backstory, about the poverty she grew up in and still lived in until this opportunity arose. Esme is no fool and she seizes every advantage to try and build a better life for her family, hopefully in America.
We know that Khai is very successful but I would have liked to learn a bit more about that. It is suggested that is very frugal which Esme takes for lack of funds, not understanding what is going on and frankly, neither did I. But that is just a minor quibble.
There are some really funny moments in this book, as well as some heartbreaking ones. It was an emotional read for me, and I know I won’t be forgetting these characters any time soon.
5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang. Berkley (May 7, 2019). ISBN 978-0451490827. 320p.