The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)by Helen Hoang Published 05 Jun 2018
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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
"The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)" Reviews
4 1/2 stars. Well, this book. I'm not even sure where to start. I guess I'll begin with an overview.
The Kiss Quotient is a seriously sexy, fun book that has rekindled my interest in the romance genre. When it hits the spot, I LOVE a good romance, but I rarely find one that goes beyond cliches and instalove so I usually end up bored. Not with this one. Not one bit.
It's the perfect blend of sweet and steamy. And let me be clear: this is not YA. There's a lot of graphic sex scenes, though I should also say that the author builds up to it really well; she knows how to tease us. It was just so nice to read a book where sex is actually sexy and not political, cold, a form of manipulation, or not sex at all because consent went out the window.
This is an ownvoices book about Stella, who has Asperger's syndrome. Convinced she needs lessons on how to be good at sex and relationships, she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her. Michael is mixed race - Vietnamese and Swedish - and described as a hotter version of k-drama star Daniel Henney. In a gender-reversed Pretty Woman scenario, the two inevitably end up developing feelings for one another.
Stella's autism makes it difficult for her to know how to behave around other people, and she also struggles with being touched. Through this, the author explores the importance of consent - Michael is deeply respectful of her boundaries and always waits for her to be 100% ready. Perhaps it sounds less sexy than the spontaneous grab-and-go on the office desk sex but it actually isn't. It's kinda wonderful.
Okay, and here's the weird thing. I don't know how to talk about this or if I really should, but I think it is worth mentioning. We talk about the importance of diverse books all the time and the way voices by POC, LGBT+, and those with disabilities are absolutely essential. They foster understanding and help a lot of people realize they are not alone. Well, I got a lesson in just how important books like this can be.
As I was reading about Stella, I started to make some comparisons. I was so affected by it that I made a list. This list:
• Extreme social anxiety
• Loss of focus; frequent "zoning out"
• Fanatic obsession with a small number of interests
• Difficulty reading verbal cues and understanding sarcasm
• No interest in playing with others as a young child
• Avoiding eye contact or overcompensating and staring
• Clumsiness and poor spacial awareness
• Called "quiet" "shy" "weird" and "odd"
• Outbursts of anger when losing or unable to complete a task
• Deep levels of frustration and anxiety when routine disturbed
• Practicing "conversation trees" in head
• Facial tics
Um, yeah. So this is me. Some of these are behaviours I exhibited as a child, but many I still do. It turns out I probably have high functioning autism, formerly known as Asperger's Syndrome. I currently only have a self-diagnosis and a score of 35 out of 40 on the Cambridge autism test (over 32 is high probability of autism) but I am pursuing a professional diagnosis.
Honestly, this book just made me feel so... understood. Everything that I've worked so hard to hide and bury about myself is normalized and even celebrated. So yeah, it is sexy as hell and really sweet, but it's also so important. Seeing as so many women and girls go undiagnosed, this book could offer validation to so many who need it.
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The Kiss Quotient is quite the unexpected romance novel. Stella Lane is on the spectrum and wants to get better at sex so she can, hopefully, find a life partner and start the family her parents so very much want her to have. To get better at sex she hires Michael, an escort with a lot of debt and a few secrets but who, somehow, is exactly the man she needs. Of course he is! That's how romance novels work. But this is such a fun read and it's also quite original and sexy and sensitive. Stella is a really compelling protagonist and Hoang does a fine job of showing us who this woman is and how she negotiates a world that isn't as welcoming to her as she deserves. Lots to admire her! Well worth a read.
I am… not impressed.
How lovely that this is an #ownvoices novel. Stella is autistic, as is the author, and so, no one can say that it is not authentic.
But the storyline is not, however, very realistic.
See, Stella is bad at sex, or so she says. She’s also bad at relationships and human interactions in general. So she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her a thing or two.
Or three. *suggestive eyebrows*
I was entertained for the first fifty or so pages, then I became tired of the sex talk. Do we really need to talk about it in every single page? No, we don’t.
I was expecting a smart romance, but it really isn’t that original. Of course, the fact that the main character is autistic is a breath of fresh air, but I didn’t connect with her. I *understood* her – she’s pretty straightforward and eloquent – but none of the characters felt particularly three dimensional to me.
It’s a lot of will they/won’t they, but the reader knows that they will. Come on. So the fact that the protagonists are so confused about their feelings for one another gets old fast and becomes rather annoying. Enough!
It also isn’t… romantic. Or extremely sexy. It’s steamy at times – what with all the sex/foreplay I sure hope so – but it didn’t summon stars in my eyes (or, something else…) and I will soon forget about this couple. It didn’t help that the writing was quite dry.
I know. This is an important book. But I won’t rate a book highly if it didn’t win my heart, especially considering that there are other *important* novels out there that actually managed to claim a place on my list of favourites.
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I am a swooney mess, oh my LANTA. I haven’t swooned this hard since Joshua Templeman. My heart is so happy right now, I can’t even. WHAT A ROMANCE.
I started reading this Friday night on a plane, and as usual, I suspected I probably wouldn't make it past chapter 3 before just putting on my headphones and opening up my laptop to write instead. Most of my readers know I don't read much romance anymore, not because it's not good, but because I write it all day, I kind of need a break when I'm reading for pleasure. So I veer toward other genres.
It's like a hairstylist, you know? You think their families would constantly be able to get their hair done, but oh, no. They're the last people to get their hair done! A stylist comes home, that's the last thing they want to do! lol
So anyway, I started reading. And I kept reading. By chapter 2 I was laughing. By chapter 3 I was like "oh, yeah." By chapter 5 I was denying my complimentary pretzels and Sprite. And by chapter 12 my tired eyes were glancing between my Kindle screen and the hotel room clock, knowing I had to be up for a signing in 7 hours, and should I go to sleep or...ok, just after this part and then I'll definitely go to bed.
The author gives us an incredible hero in this story. He has a tough hurdle to overcome, but he's noble and strong but also incredibly hot. He has just the right amount of edge and a touch of bad boy, but at the same time he's doing what he has to do and he's the only man who understands Stella. This guy from a completely different world than her is the only man who can talk to her and connect with her. When they strip everything away and are alone, close and quiet, they are everything the other one will ever need.
Stella is strong and smart, educated and awkward in social situations, and I absolutely loved her. I connected with her. What built between these pages was a relationship between a striving woman and the man she hired to help her, both of whom never expected or tried to make it happen. It wasn't supposed to happen. The lines of the professional relationship start to blur, and slowly, their bond seals, even as they try to resist it.
I loved this story. I loved both of the characters. I adored the side characters and how everything felt natural, the writing flowed, and the heat and need and longing for someone you're not supposed to fall for got stronger and stronger.
And I really wish Hoang had more books out right now!
Give this one a try when it releases, everyone! You won't be sorry!! And I can't wait to read your thoughts. And have others to swoon with <3 Because I feel so alone right now. Lol
I'm sitting here talking to my book bestie who is attempting to write a review for this book as well and we both are a little intimidated by the task because it's hard to do it justice. So let me get one thing out in the open:
READ. THIS. BOOK.
I suppose I could end this review here but I need to explain how awesome this book is and why I'm demanding of you to read it. Even if you don't believe ME, check out the other reviews about THE KISS QUOTIENT.
I have only read one story in the past that involved an autistic main character, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley, which is one of my most favorite books of all times. Autism is rare in books so I had to have this debut novel by Helen Hoang.
Stella is a shy, gentle-spoken, and so so brave, young woman. As an autistic woman with a brilliant mind she needs her routine. She also thinks that she's bad at sex and that practice with a professional might fix this problem. What she didn't anticipate was the connection she makes with the hired escort at their first meeting. The way Stella reacts to Michael shows how lonely and excluded she often feels and that's all kinds of heartbreaking. Stella's pain and struggles left me raw and had me tear up.
Uninvited touch is more often than not unwelcome, it makes her feel highly uncomfortable, but Michael's touch soothes something inside her. Her fear of being labeled is so deeply seated that she can't tell Michael about her disorder even when they become close. He would see her in a different light, would treat her with kid gloves and she doesn't want that.
She had a disorder, but it didn’t define her. She was Stella. She was a unique person.
Stella's courage is inspiring. I loved the things that came out of her mouth just because she doesn't have the filter that society insists on. I found it charming, funny and sweet. Her way of looking at problems is unique, brilliant and fascinating. She shows the clarity that children often portray. While her train of thought is often complicated the results are simple and logical.
Michael needs his job as an escort. It pays the bills he shouldn't have to pay. At the same time he feels guilty for his dreams of having his old life as a designer back. He never meets a client more than once - being stuck with a stalker he has learned the hard way but right from the start he feels that Stella is different. He knows he shouldn't get close to this woman, whose thoughtfulness and desire for him as a man and not an escort slay him. Feelings for a woman and escorting don't go well together, things can get messy fast. But how can he resist her plea for help when being close to her is all he wants?
Her eyes shot to his face, and Michael lost his train of thought. Those sexy librarian glasses showcased the most stunning pair of soft brown eyes. And her lips— they were just full enough to be tempting without detracting from her overall air of sweetness.
If Michael doesn't make you swoon you must be dead inside. He is intuitive, patient and kind and understands Stella on a level only soulmates do. He teaches her that she was never awful at sex, that she only had douchebag lovers who didn't care about her pleasure. Through his eyes she learns her own sexuality and sensuality. He knew when to push and when to give Stella space. The tenderness he feels for this sweet, smart, special woman accompanies you through the whole story. Everything she considers a flaw is perfection to him. But he can also be demanding and sexy and I loved how he flustered Stella with his dirty talk.
The story packs a surprising and very welcome amount of steam. These are some of the most erotic scenes I've read in a while. Plus, it has some really good grovel towards the end.
Michael was mint chocolate chip for her. She could try other flavors, but he’d always be her favorite.
Michael's family is pretty special too - as it is with big families his mom, sisters and cousin are all up in his business. I loved his cousin Quan, who gave it straight to Michael, there was no sugar-coating. When he is mad, Michael knows it but Quan forgives fast. I'm hoping he will get his own story.
As somebody who doesn't have anyone with autism/Asperger's in her life the disorder is an abstract medical term I know the definition of. I know the symptoms but at the end of the day it it's hard to understand what's going on in the mind of somebody who processes emotions differently. THE KISS QUOTIENT gives you a glimpse into the brilliant workings and emotional world of somebody with this disorder (and I hate to call it that) and an understanding beyond the medical concept. The lessons you will take with you after closing this book are fundamental, integral and authentic.
She could change her actions, change her words, change her appearance, but she couldn’t change the root of herself. At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.
When you open a book and you have that gut feeling that tells you this book will end up being an all-time favorite, one that you'll go back to and re-read multiple times, then you've found book gold. It's how I felt right from the beginning and the farther I got the more this conviction manifested itself. Stella and Michael will take you on a journey of self discovery and self appreciation, of accepting that autism is just a word for saying somebody is special and just as valuable and wonderful as somebody without. If you had only one more book to read in your life, this one should be it. Helen Hoang poured her very soul into it.
Can you imagine that this is a debut novel? I think we will hear a lot from this author.
PICK THIS UP AND BE WOOED!