The Bride Test is the romance we all know we needed-with an incredibly representative diversity, an ambitious, generous heroine and a swoon-worthy hero!
Read on to find out more about what makes this romance so fabulously unique!
- It’s sensitive exploration of different aspects of the autism spectrum
Khai Diep, while wealthy, successful and driven is autistic. This has affected the way he processes emotions and has caused him to be completely convinced that he is simply incapable of loving. Add to this his antipathy towards light, gentle touch of any kind and his struggles with intimacy and you can see how difficult it’s going to be to convince Esme (and himself) that he really is in love!
“The impression of her touch remained on his skin, shimmery and unpleasant and he knew from experience the sensation wouldn’t fade for another day. Light touches did that and it was worse when people caught him surprise.”
2. It opens up a discussion on the struggles of cultural assimilation among immigrants
The Bride Test provides a fascinating insight into a cross-generational, cross section of Vietnamese immigrants, who have set up established vibrant, close-knit societies and successful businesses after immense struggle.
“Her grandma hugged her briefly, an extraordinary display of affection since older generations didn’t generally hug and Esme caught the smell of more fish sauce. Instead of venting out the room she breathed the smell deep into her lungs, Her origins didn’t define her but they were a part of her. She refused to be ashamed of them.”
3. It’s a clever play on the mail order bride trope
The ‘mail order bride trope’ is popular in the world of romance with the adventure inherent in travelling across the world to make a better life for oneself with a mysterious stranger! And The Bride Test offers an incredibly fun twist on this, this is present-day USA and the not the Wild West and the unsuspecting hero has no idea what his mother has set him up for!
” ‘I’m not getting married, and she’s not staying here, and you can’t do things like this.’ This was the twenty-first century for fuck’s sake. People didn’t run around purchasing wives for their sons anymore.”
4. It shows an inherent respect for ambitious women
In a world that is far too critical of women with ambitious, aspirational women, Esme is a heroine to look upto. She is unabashed about the fact that she wants a better life for herself and her daughter and mother, and is willing to work for it despite all odds.
“She would fight for herself and she would fight for her loved ones. And she would fight for her loved ones. Because she mattered. The fire inside of her mattered. It could achieve and accomplish. People might look down on her but she was making her way with as much integrity as she could with limited options.”
5. It consciously follows a heroine who is not necessarily ‘Westernized’ and has different cultural and social norms.
My Ngoc Tran, known briefly as Esme, has never been to college and cleans toilets for a living back in Vietnam to support her daughter as a single mother. Her English is not fluent and she feels the need to lie about her being an accountant to disguise what she feels are her ‘shortcomings’ in an Anglocentric and West-centric world. Her character comes as a refreshing departure in a world where a really ‘feisty’ heroine is supposed be ‘Westernized’ inspite of her ethnicity. Esme shows that you can be feisty, ambitious and have a strong work ethic even while coming struggling with the trappings of the Western world.
I asked myself why I’d automatically decided my heroine had to be ‘Westernized’. Why couldn’t she have an accent, have less education, and be culturally awkward- Authors Note
6. It has an amazingly colourful cast of supporting characters!
From Khai’s outspoken, interfering but loveable mother , Cô Nga, to his whacky but supportive brothers and his wide range of cousins and sundry aunts, to Esme’s friends at the literacy centre and her adorable daughter Jade, the supporting characters are protagonists in their own right!
” ‘These two kids.’ Cô Nga tried to sound stern, but she couldn’t keep a smile off her face. ‘Go home already. People will see you.’ She dug through her granddaddy-sized purse until she came up with a tissue and handed it to Esme. Then she dragged the aunts off.”
7. It’s a Cinderella story with a twist!
While everybody loves the gentle, romantic sweetness of a Cinderella story, with its pathos and happy ending and the idea of a gorgeous man just willing to share your troubles, we’d like the heroine to show some spine and willingness to fight her own battles too. And The Bride Test just does that. While Esme is initially placed in a dependent situation, she shows a determination to work her way out of that, to become financially independent-whether it’s by working as a waitress to pay her way or not marrying till she graduates college
“In this country of empowered people, justice and fairness opportunities were there for everyone. Marriage and birth couldn’t be the only ways to belong here. She didn’t believe that. There had to be something she could do to earn her place here, some way to prove herself.”
The Bride Test is available now!