Review: Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test

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“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.”

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
What I liked:
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.

What I didn’t like:
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 3.5/5.

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Ratings:
My overall: 3.5/5
Steam: 3.5/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Friendship: 2.5/5
Representation: 5/5

Goodreads: 4.17/5


Get More Information:
The Bride Test is Helen Hoang’s newest release and is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. It’s available to purchase now.

Links: visit Helen Hoang’s website; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram; find The Bride Test on Amazon; find The Kiss Quotient on Amazon


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.


This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Chloe Liese’s He’s a Brute

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Happy publication day to Chloe Liese’s He’s a Brute. I am so very fortunate to have been sent a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Chloe Liese!

He’s a Brute is Chloe Liese’s debut novel, and it’s the first book in the Tough Love series. He’s a Brute tells the story of Zed and Nairne. Nairne is a brilliant scientist whose ambitions lie with making healthcare more affordable and accessible. Its why she takes a job at a nonprofit where she just so happens to run into “Adonis” himself. Zed is the chair of the board, but he’s also a lot more. He’s a mafia prince, a professional footballer, bad boy, oh and he’s totally hot for Narine.

You might like this book if:

  • you enjoy steamy romance novels (18+ sexual content – dom/sub)
  • you need a little thrill/suspense in your romance i.e., the mafia
  • you love well rounded, inclusive female characters

You might not like this book if:

  • you don’t enjoy slow burn romance
  • you dislike mafia romance
  • you prefer to read standalones as opposed to series

So much to talk about here, so lets get into it. I pretty much knew I wanted to read He’s a Brute the second I saw the synopsis. Hot footballer? Check. The Mafia? Check. Slow burn romance? Check. (!!!!) I have to say that this is my first mafia romance, and it certainly won’t be my last. It adds an element of suspense and danger that I didn’t know I even needed in my romance until now.

Perhaps one of my favorite elements of this book was a reveal about the main character at about the 20% mark. This reveal may sit differently among readers. For me, it totally worked, and I loved it. First I got to know a bit about Nairne – I learned about her job, her personality, her friendship – then I got to know about a significant part of her character/life. All are different facets to her and all are important. I just in particular liked the way this was deliberately withheld and then shown to the reader. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything!

I loved the slow-burn romance between Zed and Nairne. The push and pull between them built up a lot of tension, and I loved the inevitable pull between them. Plus, the scenes between these two are very saucy. Liese definitely delivered a new adult romance. The sexual content in this book has a dominant/submissive dynamic.

Another great aspect of this novel is the characterization. Both Nairne and Zed felt well written and fleshed out. They both had intense backstories, and some of it we still don’t know! (*waits impatiently for the sequel*) I haven’t read a romance series in awhile (I still mainly to standalones) so I’m going to have to remember how to be patient. More than our main characters, though, Liese did an amazing job on the secondary characters. I hate when I’m reading a book and the secondary characters feel thin, forced, and as though they are thrown in with no real purpose. That was not the case here. I loved Narine’s best friend and even Zed’s family. I can’t wait to see more from this cast of characters in the sequel.

If I had any complaint, it’s that I wanted to see more of the mafia aspect. I wanted to know more of the inner workings and experience some more of the danger that Zed was in. I’m assuming that we will learn a lot more about Zed’s involvement in book two as I know this book had a lot of “setting up” to do plot wise. I really hope book two delivers a healthy dose of danger (what can I say, I’m a sucker for it in my romances. Maybe I’ve watched too many crime shows? I’m looking at you, Bones.)

Overall, I really enjoyed this new adult romance. If y’all check it out, please let me know what you think! He’s a Brute gets a 4/5 from me.

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He’s a Brute is new adult romance, and it was published on May 6, 2019. It’s 236 pages and has a 3.86 rating on Goodreads. As of 5/6/19, it is available on Kindle Unlimted.

get more info: visit Chloe Liese’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; find He’s a Brute on Amazon; pre-order the sequel, She’s a Spitfire, now

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.