Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Kiss Quotient, #2
Hero: Diệp Khải
Heroine: Trần Ngọc Mỹ
Date of Publication: May 07, 2019
Started On: June 03, 2019
Finished On: June 07, 2019
The Bride Test begins ten years prior to the period in which the story is based, during a funeral. This is where readers are introduced to the hero, Diệp Khải, who is unable to show his grief from having lost his best friend. Everyone around him criticizes him for not grieving in the “right” way – making Khải believe that he is deficient in a way that is irreparable.
Trần Ngọc Mỹ is a single mother, trying to make ends meet in the poorer parts of Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam, where she encounters Khải’s mom at her place of work, on the hunt for a bride for her youngest son. Though Mỹ is not exactly what she had in mind when she began the search, something about Mỹ makes her believe that she could be the ideal choice for Khải.
Though Mỹ has her reservations, it is her own mother who convinces her that through this marriage of convenience, Mỹ could provide for a better future for her daughter than the poverty-ridden life that lies ahead of her. Thus convinced, Mỹ makes the journey to America to meet her future husband.
When Khải is confronted with the inevitable, though he tries hard to stay indifferent and out of Mỹ’s way, somehow he ends up getting emotionally attached to Mỹ, without realizing it. Khải being autistic is an aspect of his character that Mỹ has no knowledge of, and Mỹ has her own secret well under her sleeve; the fact that she has a daughter back home for whom she would practically lay down her very life for.
It is an endearing, at times hilarious, and a bit heartbreaking of a journey that these two embark upon to reach their own happily ever after. I believe that The Bride Test did a marvelous job of bringing Khải to life, with his oddities and the ways in which his mind works differently when it comes to what is “normal”.
While I enjoyed The Bride Test, I believe that I felt a lack of emotional connection to Mỹ that detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. I would have liked Mỹ better had she understood Khải, what autism means, and how difficult certain aspects of life could be for someone like him. Instead of trying to understand where Khải was coming from, most of the focus of the novel was on Mỹ and how she becomes empowered enough to stand on her own two feet.
I applaud the fact that Mỹ stood up for herself amidst all odds and made everything work for her. Even at the very end, Mỹ’s strength of character is what stands out in the novel, more so than the love between Mỹ and Khải. On the contrary, The Kiss Quotient worked so well because both Michael and Stella were on the same page at the same time, and there was never ever a doubt in my mind that they belonged together, right from the start. When they made an appearance in this story even, the connection between them is one you feel deep in your heart, and I wanted that for Khải with every fiber of my being.
Mỹ may not have had the sophisticated education that she had to forgo when she got pregnant out of wedlock, but every aspect of her character speaks of intelligence, emotional and otherwise. Which is why, I felt the lack so severely when it came to Mỹ’s lack of interest perhaps, in digging deeper into Khải’s psyche and trying to understand him – what makes him the way he is. Not to mold herself to suit his needs, but rather so that she could meet him on an even footing in accepting him for the way he is.
I understand that Khải’s level of education must have been a huge deterrent when it came to Mỹ and breaking down barriers. However, I wish she had shown more interest in the person who Khải is than what materialized in the story. At least Khải acknowledges to himself that he hadn’t done much to really get to know Mỹ, mostly owing to the fact that he has correlated that caring for someone means losing that someone altogether.
I wish Mỹ had wanted to explore more of Khải’s fascinating mind and the way he views the world. Had she taken that time, she would have realized that Khải was indeed different. The fact that she had been his first should have driven home the point in my opinion. Why else would a man who finds it difficult to socialize and accept physical contact go all the way? This is where I would have liked Mỹ to use her emotional intelligence to pick on the cues and understand the man Khải is, for better or worse.
I think Mỹ finding herself and charting her own course in life (which is all well and good), took away the focus from exploring the depth of feelings between Khải and Mỹ together. Mỹ made it seem as if it was of no consequence to her whether they ended up together or not, while Khải was moved to the point of obsession with her. Somehow I wanted way more for Khải than what Mỹ ended up giving him.
Recommended for fans of Helen Hoang and those who fell in love with The Kiss Quotient. Some of you might end up loving The Bride Test more. But for me, my heart belongs to Michael and Stella all the way.
Final Verdict: The Bride Test explores the everyday struggles of being autistic, making the reader think beyond the scope of the book. I loved Khải for all that he was, just the way he is.
They shattered him. He brushed the saline away with his thumbs.
“I’m okay,” she whispered. “Don’t worry. I—”
He took her mouth, pressing his lips to hers as the feel of her shocked through his system. Soft. Silk. Sweet. Esme. When he realized she’d gone stiff, he started to pull back in horror. What had he been think—
She softened against him, kissing him back, and that was it. His thoughts burned away. Something else rose from the ashes, something he’d kept chained up so long it was all fierceness and animal hunger. He stroked his tongue over her lips, and when she sighed and parted her lips, savage victory swept through him. He claimed her lips, claimed her mouth, claimed the liquid heat inside that tasted of vanilla and strawberries and woman.
“Come here,” she said.
His body obeyed on its own, edging between her knees and covering her, lining them up just right. The lure of her lips was too much, and he kissed her with a touch of desperation. When he rolled his hips, his cock slid over her, and the tip lodged inside of her. Just the tip. He went flame hot everywhere, his back, the base of his skull, his scalp.
This was happening. Him and Esme. Together.
He kissed her deeper as he pushed in slowly. Each inch changed him, broke him down and put him back together again, until he finally seated himself inside her completely, and she threw her head back and moaned.
For a moment, he was too overwhelmed to move. He’d pleased her.
When he started to move his hips as he caressed her with his fingers, she couldn’t stop the sounds escaping her throat. Stroked inside and out, treasured, loved. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him in every way she could as their bodies found a rhythm.
He was here. He was hers. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Kisses everywhere, on her lips, on her throat, her shoulder. Temple to temple, heavy intimate breaths, whispers in her ear, answers.
Like this and this and this.
Her hips rose sharply off the floor, pressing as close to him as possible, high, higher, higher. Head thrown back. Too much, too good, so good. A trembling moan. Strong convulsions, over and over and over.