One of Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2018
One of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2018
"This is such a fun read and it's also quite original and sexy and sensitive."Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author
"Hoang's writing bursts from the page."Buzzfeed
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 purchasesa 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 practicewith 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 planfrom foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. 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...
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.46(w) x 8.19(h) x 0.83(d)|
About the Author
Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger's Syndrome. Her journey inspired The Kiss Quotient. She currently lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2018 Helen Hoang
“I know you hate surprises, Stella. In the interests of communicating our expectations and providing you a reasonable timeline, you should know we’re ready for grandchildren.”
Stella Lane’s gaze jumped from her breakfast up to her mother’s gracefully aging face. A subtle application of makeup drew attention to battle-ready, coffee-colored eyes. That boded ill for Stella. When her mother got something into her mind, she was like a honey badger with a vendetta—pugnacious and tenacious, but without the snarling and fur.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Stella said.
Shock gave way to rapid-fire, panic-scrambled thoughts. Grandchildren meant babies. And diapers. Mountains of diapers. Exploding diapers. And babies cried, soul-grating banshee wails that even the best sound-canceling headphones couldn’t buffer. How did they cry so long and hard when they were so little? Plus, babies meant husbands. Husbands meant boyfriends. Boyfriends meant dating. Dating meant sex. She shuddered.
“You’re thirty, Stella dear. We’re concerned that you’re still single. Have you tried Tinder?”
She grabbed her water and gulped down a mouthful, accidentally swallowing an ice cube. After clearing her throat, she said, “No. I haven’t tried it.”
The very thought of Tinder—and the corresponding dating it aimed to deliver—caused her to break out in a sweat. She hated everything about dating: the departure from her comfortable routine, the conversation that was by turns inane and baffling, and again, the sex . . .
“I’ve been offered a promotion,” she said, hoping it would distract her mother.
“Another one?” her father asked, lowering his copy of the Wall Street Journal so his wire-framed glasses were visible. “You were just promoted two quarters ago. That’s phenomenal.”
Stella perked up and scooted to the edge of her seat. “Our newest client—a large online vendor who shall remain nameless—provided the most amazing datasets, and I get to play with them all day. I designed an algorithm to help with some of their purchase suggestions. Apparently, it’s working better than expected.”
“When is the new promotion effective?” her father asked.
“Well . . .” The hollandaise and egg yolk from her crabcakes Benedict had run together, and she attempted to separate the yellow liquids with the tip of her fork. “I didn’t accept the promotion. It was a principal econometrician position that would have had five direct reports beneath me and require much more client interaction. I just want to work on the data.”
Her mother batted that statement away with a negligent wave of her hand. “You’re getting complacent, Stella. If you stop challenging yourself, you’re not going to make any more improvement with your social skills. That reminds me, are there any coworkers at your company who you’d like to date?”
Her father set his newspaper down and folded his hands over his rounded belly. “Yes, what about that one fellow, Philip James? When we met him at your last company get-together, he seemed nice enough.”
Her mother’s hands fluttered to her mouth like pigeons homing in on bread crumbs. “Oh, why didn’t I think of him? He was so polite. And easy on the eyes, too.”
“He’s okay, I guess.” Stella ran her fingertips over the condensation on her water glass. To be honest, she’d considered Philip. He was conceited and abrasive, but he was a direct speaker. She really liked that in people. “I think he has several personality disorders.”
Her mother patted Stella’s hand. Instead of putting it back in her lap when she was done, she rested it over Stella’s knuckles. “Maybe he’ll be a good match for you, then, dear. With issues of his own to overcome, he might be more understanding of your Asperger’s.”
Though the words were spoken in a matter-of-fact tone, they sounded unnatural and loud to Stella’s ears. A quick glance at the neighboring tables in the restaurant’s canopied outdoor dining area reassured her that no one had heard, and she stared down at the hand on top of hers, consciously refraining from yanking it away. Uninvited touches irritated her, and her mother knew it. She did it to “acclimate” her. Mostly, it drove Stella crazy. Was it possible Philip could understand that?
“I’ll think about him,” Stella said, and meant it. She hated lying and prevaricating even more than she hated sex. And, at the end of the day, she wanted to make her mother proud and happy. No matter what Stella did, she was always a few steps short of being successful in her mother’s eyes and therefore her own, too. A boyfriend would do that, she knew. The problem was she couldn’t keep a man for the life of her.
Her mother beamed. “Excellent. The next benefit dinner I’m arranging is in a couple months, and I want you to bring a date this time. I’d love to see Mr. James attending with you, but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll find someone.”
Stella thinned her lips. Her latest sexual experience had been with one of her mother’s blind dates. He’d been good-looking—she had to give him that—but his sense of humor had confused her. With him being a venture capitalist and her being an economist, they should have had a lot in common, but he hadn’t wanted to talk about his actual work. Instead, he’d preferred to discuss office politics and manipulation tactics, leaving her so lost she’d been certain the date was a failure.
When he’d straight-out asked her if she wanted to have sex with him, she’d been caught completely off guard. Because she hated to say no, she’d said yes. There’d been kissing, which she didn’t enjoy. He’d tasted like the lamb he’d had for dinner. She didn’t like lamb. His cologne had nauseated her, and he’d touched her all over. As it always did in intimate situations, her body had locked down. Before she knew it, he’d finished. He’d discarded his used condom in the trash can next to the hotel room’s desk—that had bothered her; surely he should know things like that went in the bathroom?—told her she needed to loosen up, and left. She could only imagine how disappointed her mother would be if she knew what a disaster her daughter was with men.
And now her mother wanted babies, too.
Stella got to her feet and gathered her purse. “I need to go to work now.” While she was ahead on all her deadlines, need was still the right word for it. Work fascinated her, channeled the furious craving in her brain. It was also therapeutic.
“That’s my girl,” her father said, standing up and brushing off his silk Hawaiian shirt before hugging her. “You’re going to own that place before long.”
As she gave him a quick hug—she didn’t mind touching when she initiated it or had time to mentally prepare for it—she breathed in the familiar scent of his aftershave. Why couldn’t all men be just like her father? He thought she was beautiful and brilliant, and his smell didn’t make her sick.
“You know her work is an unhealthy obsession, Edward. Don’t encourage her,” her mother said before she switched her attention to Stella and heaved a maternal sigh. “You should be out with people on the weekend. If you met more men, I know you’d find the right one.”
Her father pressed a cool kiss to her temple and whispered, “I wish I were working, too.”
Stella shook her head at him as her mother embraced her. The ropes of her mother’s ever-present pearls pressed into Stella’s sternum, and Chanel No. 5 swirled around her. She tolerated the cloying scent for three long seconds before stepping back.
“I’ll see you both next weekend. I love you. Bye.”
She waved at her parents before exiting the ritzy downtown Palo Alto restaurant and walked down sidewalks lined with trees and upscale shops. After three sunny blocks, she reached a low-rise office building that housed her favorite place in the world: her office. The left corner window on the third floor belonged to her.
The lock on the front door clicked open when she held her purse up to the sensor, and she strode into the empty building, enjoying the solitary echo of her high heels on the marble as she passed the vacant reception desk and stepped into the elevator.
Inside her office, she initiated her most beloved routine. First, she powered on her computer and entered her password into the prompt screen. As all the software booted up, she plopped her purse in her desk drawer and went to fill her cup with water from the kitchen. Her shoes came off, and she placed them in their regular spot under her desk. She sat.
Power, password, purse, water, shoes, sit. Always this order.
Statistics Analysis System, otherwise known as SAS, automatically loaded, and the three monitors on her desk filled with streams of data. Purchases, clicks, log-in times, payment types—simple things, really. But they told her more about people than people themselves ever did. She stretched out her fingers and set them on the black ergonomic keyboard, eager to lose herself in her work.
“Oh hi, Stella, I thought it might be you.”
She looked over her shoulder and was jarred by the unwelcome view of Philip James peering around the door frame. The severe cut of his tawny hair emphasized his square jaw, and his polo shirt was tight across his chest. He looked fresh, sophisticated, and smart—precisely the kind of man her parents wanted for her. And he’d caught her working for pleasure on the weekend.
Her face heated, and she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “What are you doing here?”
“I had to pick up something that I forgot yesterday.” He extracted a box from a shopping bag and waved it at her. Stella caught sight of the word TROJAN in giant capital letters. “Have a nice weekend. I know I will.”
Breakfast with her parents raced through her mind. Grandchildren, Philip, the prospect of more blind dates, being successful. She licked her lips and hurried to say something, anything. “Did you really need an economy-sized box of those?”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she winced.
He smirked his assholest smirk, but its annoyingness was softened by a show of strong white teeth. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to need half of these tonight since the boss’s new intern asked me out.”
Stella was impressed despite herself. The new girl looked so shy. Who would have thought she was so gutsy? “For dinner?”
“And more, I think,” he said with a twinkle in his hazel eyes.
“Why did you wait for her to ask you out? Why didn’t you ask her first?” She’d gotten the impression men liked to be initiators in matters like these. Was she wrong?
With impatient motions, Philip stuffed an entire militia of Trojans back in his shopping bag. “She’s fresh out of undergrad. I didn’t want to get accused of cradle robbing. Besides, I like girls who know what they want and go for it . . . especially in bed.” He swept an appraising gaze from her feet to her face, smiling like he could see through her clothes, and she stiffened with self-consciousness. “Tell me, are you still a virgin, Stella?”
She turned back to her computer screens, but the data refused to make sense. The cursor on the programming screen blinked. “It’s none of your business, but no, I’m not a virgin.”
He walked into her office, leaned a hip against her desk, and considered her in a skeptical manner. She adjusted her glasses even though they didn’t need it. “So our star econometrician has ‘done it’ before. How many times? Three?”
No way was she going to tell him he’d guessed correctly. “None of your business, Philip.”
“I bet you just lie there and run linear recursions in your head while a man does his business. Am I right, Ms. Lane?”
Stella would totally do that if she could figure out how to input gigabytes of data into her brain, but she’d rather die than admit it.
“A word of advice from a man who’s been around the block a few times: Get some practice. When you’re good at it, you like it better, and when you like it better, men like you better.” He pushed away from the desk and headed for the door, his bag of condoms swinging jauntily at his side. “Enjoy your endless week.”
As soon as he left, Stella stood up and shoved her door shut, using more force than was necessary. The door slammed with a hard, vibrating bang, and her heart stuttered. She smoothed damp hands over her pencil skirt as she brought her breathing back under control. When she sat down at her desk, she was too jittery to do more than stare at the blinking cursor.
Was Philip right? Did she dislike sex because she was bad at it? Would practice really make perfect? What a beguiling concept. Maybe sex was just another interpersonal thing she needed to exert extra efforts on—like casual conversation, eye contact, and etiquette.
But how exactly did you practice sex? It wasn’t like men were throwing themselves at her like women apparently did to Philip. When she did manage to sleep with a man, he was so put off by the lackluster experience that once was more than enough for both of them.
Also, this was Silicon Valley, the kingdom of tech geniuses and scientists. The single men available were probably as hopeless in bed as she was. With her luck, she’d sleep with a statistically significant population of them and have nothing to show for it but crotch burn and STDs.
No, what Stella needed was a professional.
Not only were they certified disease-free, but they had proven track records. At least, she assumed so. That was how she’d run things if she were in that business. Regular men were incentivized by things like personality, humor, and hot sex—things she didn’t have. Professionals were incentivized by money. Stella happened to have a lot of money.
Instead of working on her shiny new dataset, Stella opened up her browser and Googled “California Bay Area male escort service.”
Excerpted from "The Kiss Quotient"
Copyright © 2018 Helen Hoang.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. Prior to reading this book, how would you have imagined an autistic woman? How does Stella compare to this vision?
2. Stella was surprised when she heard her coworker Philip James had been asked out by their new intern. When it comes to heterosexual relationships, do you think men should be the initiators? What does it say about a woman if she asks out a man?
3. Does it surprise you to see an autistic person exploring a sexual relationship? If so, why?
4. With regards to autism, people are divided between using person-first language (i.e. “person with autism”) and identity-first language (i.e. “autistic person”). One of the main arguments for person-first language is that it separates a person from their mental disorders. Many autistic people, on the other hand, prefer identity-first language because they believe autism is an intrinsic part of who they are and have no wish for a “cure.” Which do you think is right? Do you think it can depend on each person’s individual circumstances and preferences? How did you feel when Stella tried to make herself fresh and fantastic? Why did you feel that way?
5. What do you think of a man with Michael’s Friday night profession? How does that compare to your impression of a woman with that profession? If gender makes a difference, why is that?
6. How does Michael’s daytime profession affect his attractiveness?
7. Throughout the book, Michael worries he’s inherited his father’s “badness,” that it was passed down in his blood. Do you think this is illogical? Are you able to empathize with him? If so, how?
8. Is love alone enough? Can people with different cultures, education levels, and wealth be together in the long run? How can they make it work?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really didn't know what to expect , but I'm so glad I read the book . Yes I loved the characters and the story line was perfect . It opens ones mind about people who are different . The best book ever
This was a fun summer read. Quick pace. Characters were enjoyable.
Fun and sexy read -- not high literature, but captured my attention and I read it one sitting! The premise made me giggle and the characters were very sweet; I rooted for them all the way. Looking forward to more from the author!
Sweet romance. I couldn't put it down once I began reading.
Oh Stella, the smart quirky girl who's not good with social interactions and would much rather do math equations than socialize...some days I hear ya, girl. At the age of 30, mom is breathing down her neck for boyfriends, husband, babies, the whole 9 yards. Stella doesn't like sex and when an arrogant male coworker suggests that maybe she needs more practice she jumps on this like a homework assignment for the model student she used to be. Enter Michael, the escort. Michael is immediately drawn to Stella because she's not like his typical clients. And her intelligence is a major turn on for him. The two seemingly hit it off well and Stella offers him a proposal...she wants him to teach her how to be better at sex...I can't wait to see where how this turns out!
I enjoyed all the characters in this book especially the secondary ones. The rich family relationships added so much.
I have been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year. If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you’ll know I love romance. It is definitely my favorite genre. I love love stories. I love reading about characters who learn from their mistakes and grow in order to open themselves up to love. THE KISS QUOTIENT is a perfect example of everything I love about romance. The story centers around Stella and Michael (it’s dual POV!). Stella is an econometrician who happens to have autism. She is being evermore persistently pressured by her mother to get married and give her grandchildren. One of the things Stella deals with because of her autism is an aversion to touch. She doesn’t love it. She tolerates it when necessary; like when her mother hugs her with her overwhelming Chanel perfume or holds her hand for too long. Stella doesn’t know how she’ll give her mother grandkids when she can hardly stand being touched by another person. A passing comment from a jerk of a co-worker leads her to hire an escort to teach her how to be good at sex and relationships. Enter Michael. A Swedish-Vietnamese escort who has issues of his own. Although we don’t know exactly what those issues are until later. Right away the reader knows Michael doesn’t love being an escort. He does it because he needs the money due to the fact that he has a never-ending pile of bills coming every week. Something about Stella strikes Michael right away. She’s different. She’s interesting and sweet, and he’s drawn to her immediately. Their arrangement slowly morphs from Michael teaching Stella how to be good at sex to Michael being Stella’s practice boyfriend… and I think I’ll leave it there so you can find out the rest of it for yourself. :) I loved these characters. Although I don’t have autism, I feel like I could relate to Stella and some of her insecurities. Stella’s such a caring and sweet soul, and you want her to have everything she’s ever wanted. Which soon becomes Michael. I don’t think there are enough good words to use to describe Michael. Caring, thoughtful, attentive, gorgeous, loving, funny, tender, creative, smart… you get the idea. He definitely has things he has to work through though. He has issues with his father and has to learn that just because his father is a terrible human, doesn’t automatically make Michael one as well. He is his own person and won’t become his father —> but Michael has to learn that on his own. Both Stella’s and Michael’s individual character growth was lovely to read. Seeing how these characters navigated new situations, unexpected feelings, and stepping out of their comfort zone, was one of the reasons why this was just an enjoyable and unputdownable story. I loved how Stella and Michael were as a couple, even if it was just ‘practice.’ They were so sweet together and you could tell as a reader that this wasn’t as much as a practice relationship as it was a real one. A big part of the story is consent, but it's done in a way that shows that it doesn't hinder the romantic aspect of consensual sex. It actually makes the scenes that much hotter in my opinion. Michael uses consent as a way to figure out what Stella is comfortable with and to get her comfortable with being intimate. He never does anything she isn't okay with and instead of trying to convince her, he consistently tells her to let him know if she's uncomfortable and that they can move onto something else. He listens and pays a
Fun, romantic little story. Both characters are very likable and it’s so heartwarming to see them get together. Looking forward to reading this author’s next book.
This book had so many 5-star rating I had to give it a shot. Who knew reading about a woman with Asperger's would be so sweet, funny, and make me smile the entire time. Not to mention there were some pretty steamy sexy times when I wasn’t laughing. I loved the premise behind this book, and I loved the characters, but especially Stella. She had a childlike honesty that isn’t found in most adults. It was refreshing. Weird but refreshing. I have already pre-ordered Hoang's next book, The Bride Test which is set in this same world. I love her voice and this unique POV she writes from. It shows that people with a disability like Asperger's and autism can find love too. It is brilliant, and I am giving The Kiss Quotient 5 Huge Boundless stars.
Read it in a day! Fun, easy and vivid writing.
After lots of pressure I finally gave this book a chance. It was the perfect dirty little happy joy machine. Stella is on the autism spectrum. She likes things just certain ways. She really likes work, but her mom likes the idea of a husband and babies. Stella has been on dates, and she has had sex, but it sucks. She’s so bad at it. After an offhand comment by a coworker Stella hires a professional. Sex is just like anything else it takes practice, and a good teacher. Michael is an escort. He is also caring individual looking after his family. His Friday night job isn’t always his favorite but it pays the bills. Right from the beginning Stell is not like any other client. She wants to talk and have things explained, and she doesn’t treat him like a piece of meat. By the end of this story Michael will break every rule he ever had about clients, girls, and love. This story is sweet and funny. It’s dirty in a classy way that is more than just raunch or repackaged 50 Shades. At the heart it is two people finding each other when they need it most.
Stella has high-functioning autism. She is super smart, from a wealthy family and makes a lot of money, but she doesn't like people touching her and her mom would like her to get married and have babies. She realizes that she has to get over her aversion to being touched, so she hires a male escort. Stella hires Michael Phan. Michael is an escort, he's half Vietnamese and half Swedish, he works out a lot and has a dragon tattoo wrapped around his body. He's hot and he knows what he is doing in the bedroom. He is also very kind and patient with Stella and he takes time to figure her out and really help her. Michael's dad abandoned their large Vietnamese family and Michael has a lot of issues because of it and a lot to work through. But he is such a great hero! I learned A LOT about high-functioning autism. I have several friends that have autistic children and I have heard that when you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person; everyone is different, there is no way of saying that all autistic people are the same or have similar traits and characteristics. I loved learning about Stella and at times, I saw myself in her. I think we are all on the spectrum, some just more on the autism side than others. Also, I LOVED The Author's Note. I loved learning the story behind the book and why Helen Hoang wrote it. I loved learning more about Helen Hoang and how she she made herself vulnerable and got personal with her readers. I can't wait for The Bride Test, Helen Hoang's new book out in May 2019!
I thought that this was really good. I have had a copy of this book for some time but never picked it up despite the fact that other readers have been raving about it. I wanted to read the book but I just couldn't seem to work it into my reading schedule so when the audiobook went on sale recently, I jumped on it. Sometimes, it is just easier to work an audiobook into my reading schedule and I have to say that the narration added to my enjoyment of this wonderful little story. I wrongly assumed that this would be a sweet and rather tame romance largely because of the cover. Boy, was I ever wrong! The story may have had its sweet moments but this is not a tame romance. This was pretty steamy and there were a lot more sex scenes than I would have guessed. I don't mind romances with a lot of heat and rather enjoy them in most cases so the fact that my assumption was wrong didn't make a difference to me but I thought I would mention the fact to other readers. Stella has Asperger's and sometimes looks at the world a little different than others. She excels at her profession as an econometrician but knows that she has a few things to learn when it comes to sex. She decides that the best course of action is to hire a professional to teach her what she needs to know which is where Michael enters the picture. Michael is not proud of his job as an escort but he is resigned to doing what his family needs him to do. He has a one date rule for his clients until he meets Stella and agrees to help her with her lessons. I really liked getting the opportunity to be in Stella's head. I loved the way she described everything and her internal monologue provided a lot of insight to the reader. She tries to break everything down into logical steps but is really unsure about a lot of things. Michael's character was just as interesting. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. He really was a great guy and I loved how he was with Stella. He thought highly of her and thought others should as well. He seemed to know just what she needed. I had a great time watching these two fall for each other. They had such great chemistry with each other but they also seemed to be able to see everything good about each other. They didn't hold anything against each other. Michael didn't care about Stella's labels and Stella didn't care about Michael's history. They instead saw what kind of person the other was. Carly Robins did a fantastic job with the narration of this audiobook. I think that her performance really helped to bring the story to life for me. I think that she captured the personalities of both Stella and Michael and brought a lot of emotion into the reading. She had a very pleasant reading voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time. I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a great romance with wonderful characters that made me laugh and touched my heart. I look forward to reading whatever Helen Hoang comes up with next! I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via Bookish First and purchased a copy of the audiobook.
"I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe." We are almost one month out from Valentine's Day, which means that my mind is on sweet stories of friendship, love, and care for one another. While I think the day itself gets overblown and I'm not a big fan of the consumerism that it fuels, I DO appreciate a refocusing on intentional care for one another in the midst of a world so marked by brokenness and hatred. Let's work to love one another well, yes? The Kiss Quotient is the sweet story that I was looking for this week. While the writing is pretty straightforward and doesn't make an effort to be poetic or lyrical, I like what it does accomplish--the sharing of a steamy but also emotional and cute reversal of Pretty Woman. Hoang uses this story about Stella and Michael to examine her own personal experience of autism, to comment on what consent looks and feels like, and to reflect on the different ways that expectation and discrimination shape and mold our self-images. I really enjoyed this cute story, and would commend it to anyone who is a little skeptical about contemporary romance but who is intrigued enough to give it a try!
Loved, loved, loved this book! One of my favorites of 2018. I loved & related to Stella’s awkwardness. Loved that Michael was attracted to her because of her differences. Loved the way he made sacrifices for his family. And I especially loved the way Stella & Michael both became better versions of themselves from their time together, while not depending on the other person to make them whole. Highly recommend the audio narrated by Carly Robins who did an marvelous job bringing all the characters to life.
I was a bit late to the party on this one since its an adult title, but as soon as the reviews started coming in about how amazing it was and how sweet, I KNEW I had to get my hands on it. And I'm so glad I did! Stella is not one for romance. She thinks math is the only thing in the universe that makes things right. Her mom is pressuring her to get a boyfriend (or something) and she hates not giving her what she wants. But her Asperger's creates different problems (like French kissing). So she calls on a pro. Enter Michael. But before she knows it, Stella begins to find that Michael's lessons are too good and maybe she should try to convince him to stay around. Starting with the characters, Michael was amazing. I loved how sweet he was to Stella and how understanding he was. And Stella was an amazing character as well. She was so intuitive and well written. And of course that means the two of them together were gold. And let's not forget the spice level of this off the charts! Those lessons were a lot more spicy than I was expecting and I hope there's more in the next book of the series. And then there was the writing style. I found myself getting lost in Hoang's words. I found myself not wanting to stop listening to this. I listened to it everywhere, including at work..... In a crowded workroom. (I had to fan my face a few times and turn the volume down, but it was TOTES worth it!) Hoang has a way with words that will make you put everything else on hold. Or she definitely did for me. And I can't wait to see what else she comes up with. As for the plot, it was a contemp romance so it was a bit predictable. It fit directly with the romance troupes, but still was unique enough to keep me entertained. And being able to see from both of their POV's was such a nice touch. It was great to be able to know what they both were thinking. It was a great, quick read. I really love seeing this diverse romance getting so much warranted attention. A great writing style, a great plot, and great characters all make for a great contemporary romance. After getting so lost in this one, I can't wait to see what Hoang does with the rest of this series.
Stella hires Michael as an escort so her mother will get off her back about being single. She also decides to have him teach/practice social skills/sex with her so she will be able to get a husband. Michael does not do doubles but decides to help her because he is attracted to her. He does not feel he is good enough for her as they get deeper into their relationship because of his family and past. She's not interested in anyone else after Michael. This was fun! Both Stella and Michael are lovable. They are perfect for each other. As Stella stumbles along in relating to others Michael accepts her as she is. I like the squabbles between Michael and his sisters. I like that Stella is able to stand up for herself. The story was believable. I hated for it to end. It is a keeper.
The cover of this book is misleading. It looks like its going to be a cutesy, light, summer read. It has so much more depth than that. For starters, it has excellent character development. I cannot say enough about the character development--main and secondary. I loved being inside the characters heads. I loved that the female protagonist has Asperger's. Stella is high functioning but definitely has struggles that many of us (such as myself) take for granted. It was eye opening for me but also fascinating. This book is also well written. I enjoyed the storyline and felt like the pages just melted away. There is also a lot more heat than I was expecting...like ALOT more. At times it was a bit much but I also understand it was part of the storyline and therefore almost necessary to explore.
I finally read The Kiss Quotient and I have to say... I LOVED IT. The novel, according to the author, is a Pretty Woman story but with a gender swap. That piqued my interest because who doesn’t love Pretty Woman?? There’s definitely a twist though since Stella has autism, but it’s high functioning autism. Which plays out interestingly throughout the book. Now be warned, there are so many sex scenes in this book that if you’re not comfortable with them then you may want to skip this one. However, in my opinion, this book was so freaking hotttt in an amazingly good way. The sex scenes were quite heavy during the first half of the book but they were done right. It was completely realistic and no weird euphemisms for genitalia. (Well, maybe just once but that was a joke so it doesn’t count.) Also, it wasn’t like 50 Shades of Gray either where it has you skipping through the pages because they take it way too far. The second half of the book does get tamed and focuses more on the relationship aspect of Michael and Stella and goes through your typical plot: 1: break up 2: realize it was a mistake 3: get back together. Don’t be fooled though by the predictability of the plot because it still had me going through all emotions and rooting for them to get back together. This was a 4 and I’m so excited for the next book in the series so that I can keep reading about this adorable couple!
Michael (the hero) is half Southern Vietnamese and his family plays a significant role in the story. There are culinary, cultural, and language conventions that are present and explained in a natural flow to the story when appropriate. Stella (the heroine) is neurodivergent, she is on the Autistic Spectrum and this plays a large role in the story in terms of motivations, insecurities, and inter-character interactions. This book is own voice as the author is neurodivergent with an adult diagnosis of Autism and is Vietnamese. Stella is an econometrician who hasn’t had much luck in the love or sex department. When a coworker (also a douche) suggests she get some practice with sex that she’ll be more successful in relationships, she decides to get lessons from a professional. Enter Michael, the escort who Stella hires to educate her. We find out that he has taken up escorting to pay his uninsured mother’s medical bills for her cancer treatment. What ensues is a fake dating tale with tons of aww moments and a hero and heroine misjudging the other’s motives thanks to deeply held insecurities. Fortunately, true to the Romance genre laws there is an HEA at the end of the road. Michael and Stella are completely adorable and relatable. From the word go I found myself rooting for both of them to see. There were so many warm fuzzy moments and I had a smile on my face for most of the book. When the inevitable sadness came (because apparently conflict of some kind is mandatory in novels) I teared up and wanted to rush ahead to the HEA. I read this book in one sitting! For more detailed reveiw check out Vital-Readsdotcom
As soon as I started this book, I could not put it down. This book was so relatable and pulled me in right away. I really loved the fact that the main character had autism, because it got to show you real life, and the way someone who may have autism would be like. The main character constantly had me laughing, and intrigued to see what she would do next. I really loved the romance between Stella and Michael, and it was not at all what I was expecting. This book was steamy, sexy, and so funny. I almost didn't pick this book up, and I am so glad I did. I would have missed out on such a great book. This is such a quick and easy read, you will be glad you picked it up! This has been one of my favorite books this year.
I have to admit, I started reading this book after seeing an excerpt in some article somewhere, and I wondered if this book would really live up to its hype. Mystery solved… it does! From the well-beyond-ordinary characters that I completely fell in love with, to the slow-burn romance, to the steaming hot love scenes between these diverse, unconventional people, Hoang has definitely turned me into a fan. Stella has a Ph.D. in Econometrics. She’s brilliantly smart, hardworking, and there’s nothing more she likes more than her work… so much so that she works even on her days off. As such, her parents are filthy rich, and she herself, even outside of her family money, has more money than the poor girl knows what to do with. She’s also on the Autism Spectrum. As a super-introvert myself, I have to say I can 100% relate to this part of the story, but Stella at some point realizes she must turn the act of learning how to be good in social settings into a task to master, including how to successfully be in a romantic relationship with a man. These things do not come naturally to her, so the best way she can come up with to master such a thing is to hire someone to teach her. Introduce Michael. Michael is a Vietnamese man a few years younger than Stella, described to be very handsome and often said to look like two different movie stars. Michael is such an endearing character on so many levels. So what if he makes money on the weekends as a Male Escort? He has his reasons… and it’s lucky he did when you think about it, because otherwise, he may have never met poor Stella. When these two get together, sparks fly, and the push and pull of will-they-won’t-they is just enough to keep you wildly flipping the pages to get to the “they will!” parts. The way he takes her and puts her at ease, making her feel comfortable in her own skin, making her see how a man should treat her and making her see that what she wants is just as important as what her partner wants, and making her see that she’s perfect just the way she is, labels be damned. This book will challenge you, and it will break your heart, and it will restore your faith in humanity once again when all is said and done. If you add one Must-Read book to your TBR this year, I’d say this one should be it.
Okay, I am a sucker for contemporary romance. I love the feeling it gives me and the hope that, really when it comes down to it, love conquers all. I was VERY hesitant about reading this book despite the raving reviews on bookstagram. I am NOT a math/science person by any means. I was worried there would be too much "math talk" or that the character would be someone I wouldn't relate to. This is true. Stella has autism but she is done letting it define her and her future. While I didn't completely relate to the character, I think all of us could find a piece of themselves in this story. I loved the writing. I thought it was beautiful and quippy. Nothing over the top but also nothing left unsaid. I felt completely pulled to both Stella and Michael as soon as I met them and couldn't put this book down. I finished it in 24 hours! As much as we can say that novels in this genre are predictable, I find peace in that. I can pretty much say 99.99% of contemporary romance fiction ends with great love and I find this freeing. I find myself not wasting time getting caught up in the actual drama and instead focusing on the character development, and DANG does Helen Hoang know how to kill it in that department. "This crusade to fix herself was ending right now. She wasn't broken. She saw and interacted with the world in a different way, but that was her. 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." I loved loved looooved this book. I can't wait for the sequel!