The Bride Test: 07/22/19
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is the second in the Bride Quotient series. It's not exactly a sequel, but Stella and Michael do make appearances. Instead this is the tale of My and Khai. She works as a janitor in Vietnam — the only job a single mother with an American father can find — and he's a Bay Area CPA. My is recruited by Khai's mother who wants to find a bride for him and she believes My is the woman for the job.
My, who for most of the book goes by Emse, isn't a gold digger. Khai is a means to an end at first in that she knows her father went to Cal Berkeley. Her trip to the Bay Area is her opportunity to find him. Although she does hold some key information from Khai (namely the existence of her daughter), she doesn't deceive him.
Khai meanwhile, much to his surprise and annoyance is attracted to My at first sight. He has convinced himself that he is incapable of love. Part of his reasoning is that he's autistic but a bigger reason is that he is grieving for his best friend. The grief angle takes longer to unfold organically through the course of the novel and is heart-wrenching when all the pieces are in place.
Although the set up might imply a strained family relationship, Khai's mother isn't the typical helicopter parent. As the novel progresses she becomes a more sympathetic character. Turns out the entire family is a tightly knit one. She genuinely cares for both her sons and for My's well-being (whether or not she ends up marrying Khai).
Like the first book, the sex scenes are frank and delightfully free of euphemisms. For My, she's been through it before and is rather jaded about the magic of sex — even as she grows to love Khai. Khai is a novice and has over analyzed the process of love and sex. While yes, part of that is his autism — again most of his approach is a result of grief and anxiety.
The third book in the series is The Heart Principal which will be about Khai's brother, Quan. It comes out in 2020.