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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test

Repeat author

Helen Hoang is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Heart Principle and The Kiss Quotient.

by Helen Hoang

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Quick take

Liked The Kiss Quotient? This one's even better.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Happy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LightRead

    Light read

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy



Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working ... but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Bride Test.
The Bride Test


Ten years ago
San Jose, California

Khai was supposed to be crying. He knew he was supposed to be crying. Everyone else was.

But his eyes were dry.

If they stung, it was due to the heavy incense fogging the funeral parlor’s reception room. Was he sad? He thought he was sad. But he should be sadder. When your best friend died like this, you were supposed to be destroyed. If this were a Vietnamese opera, his tears would be forming rivers and drowning everyone.

Why was his mind clear? Why was he thinking about the homework assignment that was due tomorrow? Why was he still functioning?

His cousin Sara had sobbed so hard she’d needed to rush to the bathroom to vomit. She was still there now—he suspected—being sick over and over. Her mom, Dì Mai, sat stiffly in the front row, palms flat together and head bowed. Khai’s mom patted her back from time to time, but she remained unresponsive. Like Khai, she shed no tears, but that was because she’d cried them all out days before. The family was worried about her. She’d withered down to her skeleton since they’d gotten the call.

Rows of Buddhist monks in yellow robes blocked his view of the open casket, but that was a good thing. Though the morticians had done their best, the body looked misshapen and wrong. That was not the sixteen-year-old boy who used to be Khai’s friend and favorite cousin. That was not Andy.

Andy was gone.

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Why I love it

Like so many others, I fell in love with Helen Hoang’s writing while reading her first book, The Kiss Quotient, so I had high hopes for The Bride Test. Well, get excited, because Hoang has done it again! The Bride Test, like its predecessor, will make you blush, think, and smile again and again, as it proves just how complex, insightful, and current a romance novel can be.

Esme is an immigrant from Vietnam, who is desperately trying to build a better life for her young daughter and herself. Khai is a highly successful Californian who believes he’s incapable of feeling love for anyone. As they navigate their uneasy relationship—brought about by Khai’s meddling mother (because, of course)—they slowly begin to know one another, and end up discovering themselves in the process.

Khai and Esme’s deeply personal journeys—and the courage each takes to undergo them—are really the heart of the book. As I read, I found myself thinking hard about the notions we carry about ourselves, and where those ideas come from, and how truthful they are. And on top of all of that, The Bride Test is a hot, swoony love story, and isn’t that what we all want to read at this time of year?

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Member ratings (13,832)

  • Mikayla W.

    West Haven, UT

    Helen Hoang’s books are officially an automatic purchase for me! And the more I think about this book, the more I love it. Khai and Esme are whole characters—not “the other’s half”—and I love that.

  • Marissa G.

    Navasota, TX

    Absolutely loved this book from the moment I started reading. Couldn’t put it down. Fell in love with the main characters with all their quirks and such. I can’t wait to read the “Kiss Quotient” now!

  • Taylor H.

    Mooresville, IN

    Loved this one SO much better than her first book. Esme & Khai’s story was so much more entertaining, & I didn’t feel like it was repetitive with the smut scenes. Can’t wait to read Quan’s story next!

  • Melissa L.

    San Lorenzo , CA

    I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a love story that has so many twist and turns. The title leads you to believe it’s all about marriage but with the main character being autistic it becomes complex.

  • Erica E.

    albuquerque, NM

    i loved this book and devoured it in one sitting. i loved the dynamic between Khai and Esme and how they love each other so much for who they are and don’t try to change the other person. lots of ????????

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