The Bride Test by Helen Hoang follows Khai who we VERY briefly met in The Kiss Quotient. The books are completely separate stories but exist within the same universe. (You don't have to have read TKQ to read this one!)
The book starts with My (known later as Esme to sound more Americanized) working cleaning in Vietnam when Khai's mother stumbles upon her. She's over in Vietnam determined to find a nice girl for her son to marry. His mother offers her a deal - come to the US and convince Khai to fall in love with her. They'll get married and she'll be able to provide a better life for her daughter whom she's raising on her own.
After much consideration Esme decides to come to the US and meets Khai. Khai likes his world and his routine and definitely doesn't like anyone interfering with it. As someone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), his mind processes information and emotions differently. He thinks himself incapable of love and has resigned himself to that. He also struggles with touch among other sensory stimulations as part of his disorder. Esme vows to work her way into Khai's heart and before Khai knows it, he finds himself able to bend his rules and adapt his routine. Only with Esme. For the first time in his life he feels...something, certainly not love, because Khai can't love according to him. But something. Could this seduction lead to a real-life marriage and future or will Esme end up heart-broken as Khai remains steadfast in his inability to love anything?
I really enjoyed this one! I loved TKQ and I loved that this one lived in the same universe but was it’s own complete story. As much as this is a romance and a love story, this is Esme's story. An immigrant girl who comes to the US searching for a better life for her and her daughter. The author's note was just as moving as the novel. Esme's resilience and determination against unimaginable circumstance is largely modeled after Hoang's mother's own story. If you like books with incredible character development, heart, charm and a little fiery romance, you'll love this one when it hits shelves next week on May 7, 2019!
Thank you to Berkley Romance for gifting me a copy to review! All opinions are my own.