The Bride Test

A look into the heart and mind of an autistic man running from grief and love. At risk of losing a woman who has changed the way he feels, he wonders if there’s more than one way to love?

He was a puzzle she never would have been able to solve if he hadn’t shown her how. Those were the best kinds of puzzles, though, weren’t they? The ones no one else could figure out?

— Helen Hoang


Khai Diep thinks he’s defective and can’t feel emotions like grief or love. He feels annoyed and impatient when things unsettle his autistic tendency for order and routine, but he doesn’t think he’s capable of more than that. When Esme, an intelligent mixed-race woman living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, gets the opportunity to seek a husband in America, she sees it as the break her family needs. As her time in the states dwindles, and the only one falling in love seems to be her, Esme has to make a decision for her future and her family that might not involve Khai. And Khai is forced to examine his heart and mind…and wonders if there might be more than one way to love.


This one was a letdown for me, much like its predecessor The Kiss Quotient. Again, I’m going to blame it mostly on the genre. Mostly. Light steamy romances still aren’t really my thing. The plot line was similar to The Kiss Quotient, so that felt redundant, and the chemistry between characters was a little bit lacking.

Again, I am still really impressed that this is an ownvoices story, written by a woman with autism about a man with autism. For that reason, Hoang brings humanity to the diagnosis and helps us understand Khai and autism in a more personal way. Khai misinterprets his autistic tendency to delay the processing of emotions to his belief that he feels nothing and therefore lacks the capacity to love. It’s a touching and heartbreaking perspective, and this scientific rationalization for his behavior is interesting.

I also enjoyed Esme’s layered personality – that her focus to make a better life for herself and her family doesn’t solely depend on Khai’s love. She has options, and she isn’t afraid to actively pursue those, as she didn’t want to enter into a loveless marriage.

If the story hadn’t centered on this compassionate look into autism and independence and grief, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. So, while the plot itself was a bit redundant and predictable, the perspective was what kept me interested.

He didn’t usually spend time contemplating philosophical questions about life and humanity, but right now, as he stared at his cousin’s likeness in paper and resin, he wondered what made a person a person. Was it something mystical like a soul? Something scientific like neural connections in the brain? Or something simpler, like the ability to make someone miss you ten years after you’d died?

— Helen Hoang

The Bride Test
(The Kiss Quotient #2)
by Helen Hoang
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Berkley


From the author of The Kiss Quotient comes another compassionate story about a man with autism, believing he's defective and unable to feel love. While it fell short overall for me, there were some wonderful glimpses of humanity and understanding - the flawed and wonderful person behind the diagnosis.

— Cassie
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