The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
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…
I devoured this in a single sitting. And it was fucking delicious.
For me, this book has everything going for it. It’s dramatic, emotional, educational, complex, diverse, and hotter than sin.
This is an own voices romance with a female lead on the autism spectrum, and the entire plot setup revolves around her commitment to becoming better at sex. Because, for Stella, being touched by another human is a tricky, sometimes highly unenjoyable experience.
So what’s a modern, successful, driven woman to do?
Hire a male escort to give her sex lessons, obviously.
Enter Michael. He’s half Vietnamese, and half Swedish, and described as looking like Daniel Henney, only hotter.
He also comes with a lot of (understandable) baggage. His dad is an epic douche, and because of how he treated Michael and the rest of his family, Michael is left feeling like he’s never going to be good enough.
For himself, for his mother, and also for Stella.
From their very first interaction, it’s obvious that these two have some serious chemistry, and the pages practically smoldered beneath my fingertips as I was reading.
This is definitely one of those romances that could be listed as an erotic one, so for those of you who like your love stories without the physical act of love in them, be aware of that.
But this is also so much more than smexy times. Stella has never had a boyfriend before, and as their relationship changes, she has to learn how to navigate through all the social interactions that come with that: meeting Michael’s friends, his family, going out to strange places with him.
For someone on the autism spectrum, that can be a living nightmare. The social anxiety, the sound sensitivity, the potential for stimulus overload, it made for some tense and suuuuper awkward situations.
I felt so much for Stella because of her unabashed way of relating all of the above. And for Michael as well, because, like I mentioned before, he comes with his own set of issues and is brutally honest about them to himself.
This whole story just felt so real, if that makes sense. Most romance drama always feels borderline OTT to me, like, just TALK TO EACH OTHER AND RESOLVE THIS SHIT. The kind of petty misunderstandings and stubborn lack of communication that makes me want to rip my hair out.
This book, while definitely heavy on the internal conflict toward the end, never felt like that. Because Stella and Michael’s voices are both so separate and unique and relatable that I got why they were having trouble communicating.
This is a romance, after all, so in the end it all works out. And, for me, it’s one of those refreshing, modern, feminist, cathartic books that I can see myself re-reading every time I start to lose my faith in this genre.
So, yeah. That should tell you everything you need to know about how much I loved this.
Get your copy here.