Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test…

About the Book:

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.

Khai’s family, however, understand that his autism means he processes emotions differently. As 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.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t expecting to like this novel as much as I did. For a start, it’s a romance of sorts, a rom-com, and it contains a heavy amount of steamy sex scenes, which is not really my sort of read. But despite this, I loved it. Really loved it, and even slowed down my reading to fully savour it. Because it has a lot more to it than sex and laughs.

“‘I’ve been thinking about what you said at Michael’s wedding, about how you’re not in love, and I dunno…’ Quan motioned at the open windows, the cup collecting dust on the table, and Khai’s couch-ridden form before resting his elbows on his knees and leaning toward him. ‘This is you being sad, Khai.’
He frowned at his brother. What bullshit was this? ‘I’m not sad. I have the flu.’
Quan stretched his neck from side to side until his neck audibly popped. ‘You know you’ve been like this before, right? It’s a predictable pattern with you.’
‘Yes, I’ve had the flu before.’
‘I’m talking about being heartbroken,’ Quan said, his eyes delving into Khai’s in an uncomfortable way.”

The Bride Test is a contemporary fairy tale, quirky and honest, funny and sexy, and truly uplifting. It taps into themes such as self-worth – the way we label ourselves and allow these labels to define who we are; love – both romantic and familial; cultural differences between countries like America and Vietnam – how this divide affects adapting as a migrant and facing judgement when attempting to create a better life for yourself and your family. For Khai, it wasn’t so much that his autism prevented him from loving, it was the way in which he perceived and then labelled himself within the context of his disorder. For Esme, who may have seemed like a gold-digger to some, temporarily leaving her child to travel to America for an arranged marriage, her self-worth was very much defined by her mistakes and her job as a cleaner. Her time in America allows her to see herself in a new light, and consequently re-set the bar for herself. I appreciated the way the author made Khai’s and Esme’s journey as much about themselves as their relationship with each other. And the surrounding cast were all entertaining and delightful. This is truly a wonderful novel that would translate very well to the screen.

“She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, feeling determination burn deep within. She wasn’t impressive in way you could see or measure, but she had that fire. She felt it. That was her worth. That was her value. She would fight for her loved ones. And she would fight for herself. Because she mattered. The fire inside of her mattered. It could achieve and accomplish. People might look down on her, but she was making her way with as much integrity as she could with limited options. The woman in mirror wore a wedding gown and high heels, but her eyes shone with the confidence and drive of a warrior.
If that wasn’t classy, she didn’t know what was.”

Despite the odds, The Bride Test has rocketed onto my list of top reads for the year. Highly recommended.


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Bride Test for review.

About the Author:

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired The Kiss Quotient. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

The Bride Test
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released July 2019

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

  1. Fantastic review! I’ve been hoping to check this one out, and The Kiss Quotient. I’m really loving seeing these romantic funny reads stretching past the tropes of the genre – all the things we’ve been calling for (diversity, character development, subversion of gender roles, etc.) are materialising, and it’s amazing. Loved this write up, thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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