Synopsis: Khai Diep is a total catch. He excels at his job, and is a devoted friend, brother, and son. Hence the reason why his mom can’t wait to marry him off. Khai, however, has a different view on love and marriage. Because Khai processes his emotions differently, he worries he can’t feel emotions like grief or love “correctly.” But his mom is tired of waiting, so she takes matters into her own hands. She returns from a visit to Vietnam with Esme Tran who she believes to be Khai’s perfect bride. Esme knows a trip to America could help herself and her family in more ways than one. But seducing Khai proves harder than she initially thought. As she starts to fall for Khai for real, she’s determined to show him that there are many different ways to love.
The Kiss Quotient is for fans of:
- You enjoy the mail-order bride trope/arranged marriage trope
- You love slow-burn romance
- You appreciate books that have inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds
- You want to read an OWN Voices author’s work
Spoiler Free Review: I want to start with what I loved. I love that Helen Hoang writes inclusive characters with diverse backgrounds. Kai is on the autism spectrum (ASD), and Esme is a Vietnamese citizen who travels to the United States. These characters have vastly different backgrounds, and I appreciated learning more about their perspectives and experiences. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it is to have more representation in books and especially in romance (my favorite genre). Knowing people can find themselves and see themselves in characters is so crucial.
Also, autism spectrum disorder has a special place in my heart. My family (and myself) are all huge advocates for autism spectrum disorder awareness in honor of my cousin, Tucker, who is amazing, intelligent, caring and also happens to be on the autism spectrum. He is the youngest child to be diagnosed in the state of West Virginia (where I’m originally from). If you want to learn more about autism spectrum disorder – I suggest starting here.
Another aspect I loved was Esme’s characterization. She is a strong, independent woman and you can’t help but root for her from the very beginning. She has such a genuine heart, and her motives are so pure as she only has the best interest for her family in mind.
I also enjoyed the slow-burn build up and the sexy scenes. I think it is very clear that the author is an extremely talented writer. Slow-burn is my absolute favorite, so it didn’t bother me that it took awhile before the characters’ romance started to build. I feel like for me this makes the romance more realistic. I feel like slow-burn happens much more often than insta-love in real life.
The last thing I want to talk about is the writing. This book is full of the most beautiful, eloquent writing. I could fill this entire post with quotes that I love from this book. I really just can’t stress the pure talent seen in The Bride Test.
Now onto what I didn’t love. I did not love that Esme didn’t seem to take a huge interest in learning or asking questions about autism spectrum disorder. After learning that Kai was on the autism spectrum, she kind of just went “ok.” Even though she was sensitive to this and had great communication on what Kai’s comfort level was, I wish she would have explicitly inquired about it further. For me this just fell a little flat. I think this also would have been a great opportunity to educate readers even more about autism spectrum disorder through Esme’s learning experience.
However, my biggest issue with the story was the “secret,” and that it wasn’t revealed until the very, very end of the book. I’m talking like the last 5-10%. This was revealed too late for me. As a result, I felt like Kai and Esme were considering a commitment with one another without even knowing each other. The secret was such a huge part of Esme’s life, and I didn’t like that it played virtually no role in Kai and Esme’s relationship until the very, very end. Perhaps I would feel differently if the reveal came earlier or more came after the reveal. It just did not cut it for me.
As a result, the romance just fell flat. I didn’t feel like there was a particularly strong friendship foundation between the two. I didn’t feel like they really knew who each other were as people because there were so many secrets or things left unsaid between them for long periods of time. I don’t want to say more because this is spoiler-free!
Overall, I’m still so happy I read The Bride Test. It’s a cute new adult contemporary with some sexy scenes for sure. There is amazing representation and diversity here, and that’s definitely something to celebrate. I thought the characters were well written, and the writing was strong. The romance just lacked a bit for me, and that’s ultimately why it fell a bit flat. I’m giving this one a 3/5.
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.
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