Something about The Bride Test hits you right in the feels. It’s definitely not as explicit as The Kiss Quotient; there’s still smut, but it’s toned down a lot more. Instead, the focus is on the emotions at play in this relationship.
My heart breaks for Khai, spending ten years with the assumption that he’s broken and incapable of love. He loses his best friend and thinks his reaction is so out of the ordinary that it must be because of his autism. How is there no one in his life to help walk him through this? To help him realise that while his reaction may differ, it doesn’t mean he has no response or is incapable of one. Instead, his family seems to have had this conversation behind his back and just let him get on with his life, emotionally stunted in an incredibly avoidable way.
And then there’s Esme. As Hoang notes in the end, she’s really the star of the show. Does she cry way too easily and too often? Yes. Everything sets her off. But, thankfully, it doesn’t stop her. In fact, nothing stops her. Every obstacle is short-lived, and she’s already off and figuring out what to do next. She accepts and loves Khai for who he is and expects the same in return. And while she will do anything to support her family, she refuses to settle for less than she deserves. I love her spirit, and while Khai is a great character, Esme dominates this story. It’s not Khai’s fault; Esme would outshine anyone around her.