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. 


When I think about it, there’s a lot in The Bride Test to nitpick about. Particularly Esme who is not even Esme. She’s Mỹ, a maid who unwittingly passes a bride test of Khai’s mother and flies to America in hopes of securing a husband and a better future. She is quick to embrace the new name of Esme. She lies to Khai about her occupation in fear of not being accepted. She also hides a huge truth that she has a little daughter back home.

And yet, I couldn’t help but feeling for Esme. I grew to be fine with all her deceptions and flaws, and began to root for her very early. I disapproved of many of her actions, yes. But I felt like a protective big sister, wanting her to triumph. And when I read the author’s note at the end that her initial concept of the story had Esme as the Other Woman acting as a nuisance in the main romance between Khai and an American girl, my feelings were solidified. Esme is a real character. She’s imperfect and dishonest at times. But she’s a fighter. And that’s what me loving her character despite the initial misgivings.

If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, there Michael talks about his autistic cousin there. khai is that cousin. He’s extremely reserved, intent on maintaining distance with everyone, and finds himself incapable of love. And yet he’s considerate and kind, despite his unawareness about social cues. As his mother advises Esme, he only needs to be told in clear terms to understand things. There are reasons behind Khai’s reservedness and it’s not until the end that we find out why he finds himself incapable of feelings.

Khai and Esme somehow worked perfectly as a couple. I always love it when it’s the hero who’s a virgin. That just makes for such an interesting reversal! And here, it made Khai’s hesitance even more adorable. Khai’s growing feelings and his inner battle with his own conflicting emotions provided for the best kind of angst. Also, a special mention for Quan, who was an amazing brother and wingman to Khai. I’m hoping that the next book will be about him!

The ending might have been a little too cheesy and the resolution too easy, but I didn’t mind it. I’m happy to report that this time I was perfectly in the mood for the book, which sadly wasn’t the case with its predecessor. The Bride Test is just perfect romance with equal amounts steam and cuteness.



Book Review : The Kiss Quotient By Helen Hoang

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

This was such a sweet story! Michael and Stella are the cutest together! If it isn’t obvious from the blurb, The Kiss Quotient is sort of a gender-swapped version of Pretty Woman with an autism twist.

I think the twist worked because the plot started off on a refreshing note for me. Stella’s character and her vulnerabilities appealed to me. I loved how she’s an Econometrician and doesn’t let her Asperger’s syndrome get in the way of pursuing what she wants.

Michael has a mixed Swedish and Vietnamese heritage. My favorite scenes all featured his Vietnamese family. The chaos borne from Stella interacting with his large and loud family were the highlights of the book for me.

Stella and Michael both suffer from insecurities – each letting their respective situations make them feel unworthy of the other. That’s why, it was beautiful to see Michael feeling cherished and valued by Stella, something he was unaccustomed to. But what made my heart swell the most was the way, in the end, Stella deals with what she feels are her shortcomings and comes to terms with them, without the help of Michael.

These little things made this story more than just a sweet romance. Truth be told, I think I made a mistake reading this book now. There were a lot of fluffy romantic parts with graphic details during which I found my interest waning. I should probably have waited for when I was in more of a mood for sweet old formulaic romances to start this book. But that’s on me. The book works perfectly fine as a romance as long as you know what you’re in for.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆