I was super excited to read The Bride Test since I loved the first book in this series, The Kiss Quotient, so much. It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. The plot centers on Esme, a young mother who is approached by a stranger while working in Vietnam. The woman proposes that Esme come to California for the summer and woo her son Khai into marriage. Esme agrees so that she can possibly create a better life for her family, but making Khai fall for her is harder than she thought. Khai is on the autism spectrum, and proclaims to have absolutely no emotions. The journey that these two go on, both romantically and emotionally, is fascinating and I was completely invested.
Hoang’s writing flows beautifully, and had me continually flipping the pages to find out if Esme and Khai would end up together. I love how she highlights individuals on the autism spectrum in a very respectful manner while also educating others who may not know the signs and behaviors of autism. I also adore that her novels are own-voice, which makes them feel so much more authentic. The way she fleshed out both Esme and Khai is impressive. Esme is such a strong, independent woman who works hard and cares deeply about others, while Khai is closed off and stubborn yet goes the extra mile for those around him. The romance is a slow-burn, but it pays off tremendously and had me alternately pumping my fist in triumph and breaking my heart in defeat.
Even though this is the second novel in a series, you do not have to read The Kiss Quotient to enjoy The Bride Test (even though I recommend you do because it’s fantastic). There are crossover characters, but this book admirably stands on its own. If you’re looking for a unique romance novel with a strong female lead and a realistic look at adults on the autism spectrum, this is the novel for you.