All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

on June 13, 2018

The Kiss Quotient 
Helen Hoang
Allen & Unwin
2018, 314p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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…

There was a little bit of a buzz around this book in the months prior to its release which really made me interested. I love romances that are a little ‘outside the box’ and this one definitely qualifies. Stella is incredibly intelligent and she loves her job. Her mother keeps on at her about a husband and babies and Stella decides that if she’s ever going to be able to have a proper relationship than there are some areas that she definitely needs some practice in. She’s not a virgin but she’s inexperienced and her interactions so far with the opposite sex…..have not been good.

And so she hires Michael, a man working as an escort one night a week. She decides she wants to hire him exclusively over the course of several weeks in order to have him teach her not just about the sexual side of things, but also the romantic side. Basically, Stella wants ‘the girlfriend experience’.

Stella is sweet and funny and smart and very straightforward. She has Asperger’s or ASD, which she does not disclose to Michael at first, not wanting to be defined by it. Having been criticised for some of the characteristics that make up her personality, she wants Michael to help her without him knowing about some of her social and emotional difficulties. When Michael agrees to help her exclusively over a number of weeks, Stella basically draws up a checklist of the things they need to tick off and when. It’s an outrageously funny scene but also highlights the differences in the way Stella thinks about the timeline of ‘learning’ to be a significant other.

Michael’s nighttime profession is not something that sits easy with him but is more something that at the moment, he feels forced into because of the money. He has rules and he’s aware that such a profession can follow him at other times in his life. He desperately tries to keep the two separate, which is why he is at first, reluctant to help Stella with her larger girlfriend project. But then he agrees and it is all of a sudden so much more than just a straightforward physical transaction.

What I like about this book is that things aren’t easy, there isn’t just one awkward moment and then things become so much smoother and Stella immediately has 56 orgasms and loves sex and intimacy. It’s much more than that. Stella isn’t particularly comfortable with a lot of the sexual aspects and it’s not something that just goes away with the magic of Michael’s awesome sexual skills. They both have to work on getting her comfortable and feeling involved in it and enjoying it. Michael doesn’t want her to just endure it to learn things, he wants her to actually enjoy herself and learn what works for her. Likewise there are some weird moments in the “girlfriend” lessons too. Michael learns a lot about Stella and she learns a lot about him. They start really seeing each other and the more time they spend with each other, the more things develop. And also, there are some really awkward interactions that she has with his family but I love how Stella did her research and looked into the customs of Michael’s Vietnamese mother and also owned her own mistakes and did her best to make amends when things went a bit awry. Things are not so smooth for Michael either, being pulled in several different directions at once, struggling with his feelings about the necessity of his “nighttime” job and also the lack of creativity and inspiration in his “daytime” job. I really loved that Michael bucked the trend of a lot of romance book heroes. He’s mixed race (Vietnamese and Swedish), he works as an escort, which would generally be a big no no and he had a less than “traditionally masculine” career and passion. Stella is incredibly successful in her career and would out earn him considerably.

I loved the way this whole story was handled. It’s a blend of humour and seriousness, steamy and sweet. I really loved both the main characters, separately and together and I also liked the minor characters, especially Michael’s huge and busy family. I can’t wait for Helen Hoang to release her next book, which will involve a character mentioned a few times in this one.

9/10

Book #99 of 2018

 

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4 responses to “Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

  1. This sounds great! An example of a novel I wouldn’t have looked twice at but now want to read based on this review. Thanks!

  2. I’m so glad you loved it!!! It was a real gem for me, and I loved the diverse and utterly charming cast. 😀

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