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 absolutely loved The Kiss Quotient and couldn’t wait to get my copy of this author’s sophomore release, The Bride Test. You guys, I didn’t even read the blurb until right before I decided to sit down and read. Lol. I didn’t quite love this book as much as I did it’s predecessor, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Readers are introduced to My (she changes her name to Esme when she comes to the US), a woman living in Vietnam in cramped conditions with her mother, grandmother, and young daughter. She works as a maid to make ends meet, but dreams of giving her daughter a better life. One evening while at work she meets a woman who offers her a way to change her life. By traveling to America and becoming a bride.
If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, then you should remember Khai Diep. He’s Michael’s cousin, Quan’s brother, some sort of accountant and lives with Asperger’s Syndrome. He lives an orderly life, on a set schedule, and has no desire to change anything up. Then his mother comes home from Vietnam and announces he’ll have a housemate for the summer and that she’s already booked them a wedding hall in August.
This was a very emotional love story. Between Khai’s struggle to understand both his own and Esme’s feelings and Esme’s desire to make everyone happy while at the same time trying to acclimate to living in a new country, which is essentially a whole new world, I got choked up more than once. I couldn’t help it.
I was totally absorbed in this story and glued to the page and then there was a scene in the book that set me aback and made me pause in a HOLY SHIT NO way. I’m going to spoiler tag it so don’t read it if you don’t want to know….
Esme and Khai go to a wedding and while wandering around by herself, Esme goes into a dressing room where the bride’s wedding dress is hanging on a hanger. She wants to try it on so bad that she begins to take off her clothes to try it on and all I could think was OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG SHE’S TRYING ON THIS WOMAN’S WEDDING DRESS. NOOOOOOOO.
Thankfully she is interrupted by Khai and then they are both interrupted by another couple coming in the room to have sex. She and Khai are forced into a closet to hide and of course she’s naked, so it served it’s purpose in the story, but I can’t tell you how worried I was that she was going to try on that dress and get caught. THE STRESS.
Thankfully I kept reading, because this was such a solid, sweet romance.
The Bride Test is at it’s heart a story about two people stepping outside of their comfort zones, in different ways and for different reasons, and finding love on the other side. The Esme from the beginning of the book who is always trying to please everyone finds her strength and understands her value by the end. The Khai who didn’t think he could love discovers that he loves just as hard and just as deep as the rest of his family when he falls for Esme.
Despite the angst of misunderstandings and insecurities, and all the times I got choked up and stressed out, I really enjoyed this couple and their journey to HEA.
One of the best parts of this book is the main character’s interaction with family and friends. Especially Quan. I am all heart eyes in love-lust with him and am absolutely on the edge of my seat in anticipation for his story. I think I read somewhere that his book is coming up next and this makes Angela a very happy girl.
Final Grade- B-
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.