I absolutely loved Helen Hoang’s first novel The Kiss Quotient , so I was so excited to pick up her second book The Bride Test. If you’re not familiar with this series, they are romance reads with a difference. Not only are there Asian American characters, there’s also characters with autism and Asperger’s. These books are sexy, fun and offer plenty of representation.
The Bride Test tells the story of Esme (My) Tran and Khai Diep. Esme works as a cleaner in a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She is mixed race as her dad was an American – a man she has never met. She has a small daughter and supports her mum and grandma. Her family are poor and sleep on the floor in a one room house. Esme wants bigger things for her life and for her child.
One day an American Vietnamese woman offers her the opportunity of a lifetime – to travel to America for the summer to try to win the heart of her son, Khai He’s never had a girlfriend and is not great in social situations because he processes emotions differently due to being autistic. But Esme doesn’t know that. She’s just looking for an opportunity to improve her life and that of her family’s and possibly marrying Khai offers the key to a better life.
Of course, things are not going to run smoothly. Khai only lets Esme live with him to get his mum off his back. He’s convinced he’s not capable of loving anyone and so avoids romantic entanglements. Esme has a lot to learn about how Khai thinks and how to make it in America when she’s never felt smart enough or good enough. Also, she starts to fall for a man who is reluctant to return her feelings.
I’ll leave the story there to avoid spoilers. I’ve got to say that while I enjoyed this book, I liked The Kiss Quotient more. This was still a fun read. It’s good to see a story which explores the immigrant experience. Going to live in America, learn English, get an education and work when you come from a poor country is such an opportunity for so many people. I felt this book did a great job of exploring that story. Helen Hoang said it was not her story to tell, but the story of people like her mum.
Khai’s story was sensitively handled. It’s always great to read books from a different perspective. Not everyone processes emotions in the same way. I don’t know much about what it’s like to have autism so it’s important to read books like this. I can’t wait to read the third book in the series.
Verdict: Another enjoyable, sexy novel from Helen Hoang. She’s now an automatic buy author for me!