So, if you are short of time here – Helen Hoang simply creates the most compassionate, empathetic, sweet and real characters I’ve ever read.
If you’d like more …. here we go.
Contemporary romance is a funny genre. A lot of people list it as a “guilty pleasure”, which is a term I slightly, well, loathe. Because it demeans the genre, makes it seem like it can’t stand on the shelves next to “classics” or other “important” works of adult fiction. Why? Because it is seemingly about being happy. They are love stories. Happy stories usually with happy endings and, honestly, I feel that makes them harder to write. It is so easy for happy to ring untrue … making a happy story believable without characters being saccharine and false? That’s not easy.
Helen Hoang makes it look easy.
Not only are her characters so rounded, so genuinely real, she writes a story that doesn’t fall into the drama for drama’s sake contemporary romance traps. Every contemporary romance has that period of time where the characters fight/break up to come back together. That’s a given. But! In The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test this break up feels genuine – it isn’t some silly misunderstanding that would easily be worked out by normal, communicating adults … again it is just genuine. And that much more enjoyable to read!
The other amazing aspect to Helen’s works is her exploration on high functioning adult autism. When we speak of representation in books we usually think skin color or sexual orientation – but physical disability, mental illness, autism & the general spectrum of mood disorders are often overlooked. I have learned so much from these two contemporary romances regarding my own preconceived notions of autism and this is such an amazing feat! A heartfelt, feel good romance that also imparts knowledge and smashes stereotypes? Yes please!
While I didn’t love The Bride Test as much as The Kiss Quotient, it still was a fabulously enjoyable read. Mostly, I just didn’t like the way it wrapped up and the basic plot here of a mother picking a “mail order bride” and it being the romance that sticks … just took too much suspension of belief for me. But the characters, their individual struggles & triumphs were cemented enough in reality that I definitely enjoyed the novel.
Lastly, I love Helen Hoang’s strong leading ladies. Again, I say they are real women. They (both Stella in The Kiss Quotient and Esme in The Bride Test) have genuine difficulties, insecurities and struggles and yet show such amazing grit and determination to overcome. It’s incredibly important and empowering to read these stories in our world today … lest we begin to think our circumstances are unchangeable and accept our reality. We have the power to change, to fight and to define our lives in our own right.
“She wasn’t impressive in any way you could see or measure, but she had that fire. She felt it. That was her worth. That was her value. She would fight for her loved ones. And she would fight for herself. Because she mattered.”
Helen is just a must read author for me. If you want a steamy summer romance with heart and depth – The Bride Test is a no brainer.