The Bride Test is a book I've been looking forward to reading for ages - basically since I finished reading The Kiss Quotient, I have been counting down the days until this author's next book released. Not quite as hot and steamy as The Kiss Quotient, the development of the relationship between Khai and Esme felt more slow burn in comparison.
Esme was a wonderful character. Struggling to support her family financially in Vietnam, she knows she has to take the chance the she is presented with when the unexpected opportunity to travel to America basically falls in her lap. Initially trying to better her own future and that of her family, it isn't long before she finds herself falling for the aloof and at times very frustrating Khai.
I loved Khai - he is so misunderstood at times by others, and he himself really struggled with understanding and comprehending what he was feeling at times. Quan is a favourite character - I hope we get his story at some stage, he was such a fantastic brother to Khai. I REALLY would have loved more at the end with Esme, Khai and Esme's family, there really wasn't any story with them all together, and I would have enjoyed some Khai and Jade interactions.
Khai and Esme are placed together in an arranged marriage style pairing by Khai’s endearing mother, Cô Nga. Like anything, Khai’s mother has the best of intentions for her son, however, no best laid plan ever runs smooth does it? A story full of mentionable characters, such as Khai’s brother, Quan, who is an attention grabbing character in his own right within the narrative. (His character needs his own story. ;) )
Every aspect of this book was driven by the heart, and for that reason, was a total attention grabbing read for this reader. The emotional roller coaster ride that Khai and Esme take only cements their vulnerability, raising the emotional fallout for readers. I cannot say enough how fabulous The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is to read. It is a book that I could gladly go back to again in the future and a read I would recommend. Review copy received from Allen and Unwin
The Kiss Quotient was one of the breakout books of 2018 for me, and I was really looking forward to The Bride Test.
However, unfortunately for me it didn't have the oomph that The Kiss Quotient had.
Esme and Khai just didn't have that extra something that Stella and Michael had, I just didn't fell the connection with them. At All. It wasn't until the very end that I felt much more than meh for Khai.
I did love the diversity of the story, I love that this series has characters on ASD spectrum and the way their quirks are dealt with was great.
You can read this as a stand alone, however there are appearances by characters from The Kiss Quotient that those who have read will enjoy seeing.
Another thing that got to me that might not bother anyone else was the plot device of the green card to get Esme to the USA. I just felt that this did a disservice to Esme in particular, as as the story progressed we can see she is so much more than there "for his money and a green card". Again, the is probably just me.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy The Bride Test, however I think I had lofty expectations after my enjoyment of The Kiss Quotient.
I did enjoy this enough that I will dive into the 3rd book whenever it arrives.
If my squeals of delight and joy while reading this book were any indication, then it’s safe to say I loved this book! The Bride Test was a refreshingly honest and original read – quite a feat to manage in a genre that’s not always known for unique characters and story lines.
While some aspects of this book are well-known tropes – arranged marriage as well as haters to lover’s trope – this story featured quirky characters with an unusual dynamic between them. I definitely enjoyed getting to know Khai and Esme. As fans of The Kiss Quotient would know, Khai’s autism could often make dating difficult with the potential for misunderstandings being high. What I really loved about this book was the way Esme and Khai gradually learned to communicate with one another. Khai’s insistence on open lines of communication in concern to his inability to anticipate the emotional needs of others completely won me over.
“Please, don’t let me make you cry,” he whispered in her ear. “If something is wrong, tell me so I can fix it. Please.”
My favourite character in this book though was Esme. Which was surprising as I really, really liked Khai. His straightforward nature, politeness and modesty were adorably charming. It was Esme’s inner strength and perseverance throughout the story that truly won my heart over, though. She had come from a life of almost no material assets and laborious work to America. Having put the future of her family first she embarked on a journey that while unconventional, would have been terrifying. Her aplomb and dedication to understand Khai and the foreign land she was in was endearing and you couldn’t help but hope for the best for her. She deserved a happily ever after and some independence for her own dreams!
“How did you change your life when you were trapped like this? Her history didn't define her. Her origins didn't define her. At least, they shouldn't. She could be more, if she had a chance.”
While this book wasn’t very steamy, there was still a dash of it. The physical connection between Esme and Khai was not an easy venture and I loved that the author had taken the time to express this to the reader. The slow-burn romance made the wait for a physical connection worth- while.
“Warm. Content. Safe in his arms. Him safe in hers. She hugged him tighter. He was bigger and stronger, but she would protect him with everything she had.”
Overall, this book was very well written, entertaining and highly enjoyable. It surpassed my love for The Kiss Quotient to be my favourite Hoang book as of yet. I’m eagerly awaiting future novels in this series!