The Bride Test

Berkley Jove. May 2019. 320p. ISBN 9780451490827. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780451490834. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
OrangeReviewStarA genius with numbers, relationship-challenged, and diagnosed with autism, Khai Diep is horrified when his mother decides he's been single long enough and brings him a potential bride from Vietnam to consider over the summer. For Khai, it's just wasted effort because he knows he doesn't feel deep emotions such as grief and love and, therefore, would never be so unfair as to get married. But for Tran Ngoc My (Esmeralda)—biracial, beautiful, intuitive, and nothing like Khai imagines—it is a chance to make a better life for her family (including her young daughter) and possibly locate her birth father. As the summer progresses, this tender, laughter-laced pairing blooms, but is the August wedding that Khai's mother has planned really in the cards? A lively supporting cast, excellent detail, and exceptionally well-developed protagonists keep the pages turning. While a few plot points are tied up a bit too neatly, the conclusion is truly satisfying.
VERDICT With care, humor, and sensitivity, Hoang dives into the very core of her characters, bringing them to life in a romance that is original, engaging, and emotionally hard-hitting. Gorgeously done. Hoang (The Kiss Quotient) lives in San Diego. [See "Spring Awakenings: Editors' Picks," LJ 2/19, p. 20; Prepub Alert, 11/26/18.]
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