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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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.

Review: When I read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang I thought, “This is it. This is book perfection.” It was funny, full of wit, deliciously romantic, and delightfully romantic. There was no way to top it.

Until The Bride Test.

We should all bow down and thank Helen Hoang for forcing—with her beautiful words and incredible stories—us to step outside the box and think about romance—how others experience it, what it looks like, how it feels—in a completely different way. Heroes and heroines in romance novels are often flawed characters. They’re grumpy, they’re assholes, they’re too in their head, or not in their head enough, whatever it is. They’re flawed, but they’re not different. You could pick up a million romance novels are read the same characters over and over again.

Hoang isn’t about that. Her characters are flawed, yes—Khai can’t move past the death of his best friend. Esme is keeping secrets because she’s afraid of what others might thing of her—but they’re also different. Khai has autism. Esme has crossed into a new country with a different language, different customs, and different rules. Romance novels are fantasy with a little bit of truth. Hoang is writing truth with a little bit of fantasy.

Khai was something special. Getting the opportunity to dip inside his head and see every day experience from his perspective was a delight. As we know, each person with autism experiences it differently from another, but Hoang has a talent for putting you inside her character’s heads and allowing someone with the diagnosis to feel, even for a brief moment, a taste of what it’s like to be autistic. Khai’s thoughts and struggles were shared with such riveting detail that I felt his confusion, misunderstandings, anxiety, and complex emotions as though they were my own. I adored his oddities, his love for his overwhelming family, and his willingness to help other understand his diagnosis. (His family, with all their strangeness, were also a bright spot of this novel for they accepted Khai for who he was.)

Esme was everything a heroine should be. She was brave and strong, intelligent and patient, understanding and kind. She constantly put others before herself, to a frustrating degree, but getting to watch her step out of her shell and become a more confident woman was quite the journey. She came to the United States with the express purpose of marrying Khai and getting a better life for her and her family, but she quickly saw that she was able to be so much more than someone’s arranged marriage. Plus, who couldn’t fall in love with her when she was so awkward and adorable?

Helen Hoang should be on everyone’s one-click list. Her novels are spectacular examples of where the world of romance is headed—not that we don’t love buff, grumpy men with hearts of gold because come on. They’re delightful—but books like The Bride Test… they’re what we need.

The book doesn't come out until May 2019 unfortunately, but in the meantime just put it on your TBR list and count down the days!


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