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…
Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Book of the Month
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
This book is so unique, captivating, sexy, and important.
I love romance novels, but I’ll be the first to admit that many are generic, corny, and sometimes problematic. What makes The Kiss Quotient different is that it’s the first romance I’ve read with an autistic female protagonist. Not only are her quirks and differences prominent throughout the entire book, but they’re also addressed in a way that is positive: there’s nothing wrong with Stella, she’s just a unique person. She is incredibly smart and accomplished, and loves working with data to the point where she chooses to go into work on weekends. She is also extremely sensitive to smells and sounds, gets overstimulated very easily, and has a routine that she can never break from without getting anxious.
“What would he think if she told him how difficult it was for her to do things like dancing and drinking? Going out was supposed to be fun. For her, it was work—hard work. She could interact with people if she wanted to, but it cost her. Some times more than others.”
The way Michael (the love-interest, who also happens to be a mixed-race male escort) treats Stella is also important. He pays attention to her needs and makes adjustments without belittling her or making her feel like she’s different. Consent is also a big thing for him, as there were several times when he would ask for permission or immediately stop what he was doing if Stella appeared uncomfortable. He’s not perfect, but he wants to be a good person and do the right thing. This makes it tricky for him, as his job requires that he keep his “clients” at an arm’s length and not get too attached. Things are different with Stella though and he finds himself falling for her.
I found it very easy to empathize with Stella. Being in her head, we’re given a firsthand perspective on the way she feels in certain situations and why she does or say what she does. At the same time, I understood how other characters could be confused by her behavior and have negative feelings about the way she interacts. This is most apparent in a scene where Stella meets Michael’s family and manages to insult/hurt them without even realizing she was doing it. Scenes like this were hard to read, but helped me to understand how Stella’s mind works differently than other people’s.
The romance is super cute and this book is chock-full of super steamy scenes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who liked The Hating Game (which I loved), as I got a similar vibe with these two books.
I also loved Helen Hoang’s note at the end of the novel, where she addressed her own experience with autism and provides resources for others who want to know more about it. I never realized that such a large portion of women with autism go undiagnosed because they learn to fake “normal” behavior, even though its exhausting for them.
The Kiss Quotient was such a heartfelt, refreshing read. I feel so warm and fuzzy after reading this book!