Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
A guy on the Autism spectrum, who hasn’t dated, is convinced to house a potential mail order wife that his mom set him up with.
4 out of 5 steam level
So if you didn’t know, this book is a companion novel (in the same world and kind of a second book but also a stand alone book) as The Kiss Quotient. The Kiss Quotient, I wasn’t in love with, but also it was one of the very first steamy romance novels I’d ever read. So I am kind of convinced it would rank higher now that I’ve immersed myself into the romance reads culture.
I really liked this book! I love love loved the main characters! This is told from two perspectives (dual POVs) and it made the book that much more enjoyable. I loved both main characters and felt like I knew both of them and their thought processes well!
My/Esme, our female protagonist, was independent and determined. She was, dare I say, scrappy and sexy. She was kind and vulnerable. Khai, our male protagonist, was so realistic. He was kind, and sensitive. He was considerate and funny. Hoang wrote the dual perspectives very well and each chapter was so specifically different from the POVs- they never blended together.
At its core- this was the story of a female immigrant and a boy on the Autism spectrum. I’ve said it multiple times but that won’t stop me from saying it now, romance novels are THE most diverse novels published right now. (Try to change my mind!)
Lastly, this books acknowledgment section was epic. I mentioned that in Sky in the Deep as well. I’m clearly a fan of a well written acknowledgment section. (Come to think of it, I also love that part of Children of Blood and Bone). The author explains how Esme/My ended up as the main character and… I mean, you just have to read it. It was amazing and made me love the book even more!
This next part will be hard to explain without giving away any spoilers but I’m going to do my darndest! This book ended with an Epilogue… which you know I love! So why is it in the “didn’t like” section? The epilogue took place FOUR years after the main portion of the book. Let that sink in. We spend a lot of time with these characters and then we’re catapulted four years forward. I wasn’t thrilled with the overall relationship status of Khai and Esme at this point. I won’t go more into that, but if you’ve read it you know!
Overall I would easily recommend this book to romance readers. It is on the higher end of steam level that I’m comfortable reading. If you liked the first book in the set, The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll like this book even better!
Listen: Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
Eat: Authentic Vietnamese food!
Do: Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to learn!