The Bride Test by Helen Hoang: Another Book Finished in One Sitting

Halloween is supposed to be spent dressing up and trick-or-treating. If you're not feeling like going out, marathoning scary movies or reading horror stories could be an ideal option. Mine, however, is filled with romance books, out of all the genres available there are. I know it's not the perfect season given that we have a freaking Valentine for that, but light reads usually have this ability to lighten up the mood and I've just gotten out of a two-month reading slump, so any genre doesn't really matter.

I spent this day with The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, a book that follows the story of random match-making between Khai Diep and Esme Tran. Holding a belief that his heart is made of stone because of his autism, Khai has always been sure that he can't fall in love. That's why his Mom, after hell-bent on trying to introduce him to so many women, flies to Vietnam to secretly look for the perfect girl.

In a hotel where she stays to interview potential candidates, his Mom meets a beautiful, mixed-race bathroom cleaner with green eyes who not long after that goes by the name Esme. Driven by the desire to change her and her daughter's life for the better, Esme agrees to the arrangement and flies to California to live with Khai for the summer then tries seducing him into a marriage.

I've tried to summarize a spoiler-free premise of this book into two paragraphs, and by that, I'm pretty sure you can guess what my initial thought was when jumping into this book without knowing what the story was about: it's pretty impossible, too good to be true, but quite entertaining that I bought it right after finishing the free sample.

However convincing the sample might have been, my first qualm started to bloom on our main characters' earliest meeting. It was said that Khai had never remotely shown interest in any other women before. And we were made aware that he was wealthy and hot (like a movie star, Esme had claimed). With that said, it was quite fitting to assume that he must have had beautiful women all around him during so many social events. No matter how cold he was, he must not have been new to this. That's why realizing that Khai fell for Esme's look that fast, even if just a little, stirred a little disappointment in me. I had expected him to find something different in her that started to make him care, but sadly I didn't get that.

My second qualm was less daunting. I had known from the start that this story was obviously too good to be true, but that didn't stop me from keep going onward. Some scenes, however, seemed a tad bit too unrealistic not to comment on. Like, spoiler alert, the time Esme stumbled upon a Vera Wang wedding gown when looking for Khai in one of the weddings they attended. I know for a fact that Vera Wang's gowns are to die for. A loss of words would be a normal reaction. Even a big gape like a cartoon character would be perfectly acceptable. Esme's reaction though? She stripped down because she wanted to try it on, then proceeded to hide in a closet naked because someoneKhaiwas coming, and long story short, Khai went into the closet too in order to hide from another uninvited guest.

It was quite cute. The stripping down to try the bride's wedding gown, however, was not.

My third qualm was more complex and brimmed with spoilersanother alert! I did think it was a bit weird and uncalled for that Esme used sex as a weapon to make Khai admit that he loved her. I genuinely adored Khai's character. It pained me to witness how he constantly battled himself, tried though failed to rationalize some things, but was still a very good person. For Esme to force him into doing something he was not comfortable with instead of trying to understand his battle felt more like... a manipulative move.

Now, without taking those three points into consideration, I would say that I quite enjoyed The Bride Test. Esme's hardworking nature sent a powerful message that I have always been a fan of: that hard work eventually pays off. I liked the other characters too: Quan, Vy, and even Khai's mother; genuine people who saw beneath appearances. The writing style made the narrative flow really well also. And those were the reasons why I managed to finish another book in one sitting this weekend. Oh, and I also loved Khai.

In conclusion, my feeling towards this book was quite mixed: the story was actually quite enjoyable, but some scenes felt undeniably awkward. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I haven't tried reading Hoang's other books before, so please advice me... should I?

Actual rating: 2.8(mostly for Khai and Khai only)