The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Sometimes I avoid books just because there is too much hype about them. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a book because everyone is loving it and then having it fall short of your expectations. I sincerely wish I hadn’t held off on reading this book – it was deeply realistic, heartwarmingly romantic, and relatable in ways I hadn’t expected.

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…

Going into this book, I was a little nervous about how a character with Asperger’s would be handled. I was pleased (and very, very relieved) to find that Asperger’s was never used as a gimmick in this book. Instead, it was treated honestly, refreshingly, and very gracefully. You can quickly see how thoroughly Helen Hoang researched it before putting pen to paper. I found myself learning about Asperger’s (which I previously had not had much exposure to) and really appreciating the amount of care that the author put into writing this book. The best part was  she didn’t compromise character’s conditions or disorders for the sake of a happy ending. As I’ve previously said, it’s her attention to detail and dedication to detailed characters that makes her books really special.

Plot-wise this wasn’t anything too groundbreaking, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. It was well paced and plotted, but the true delight was the characters. Stella was great – it was very easy to get into her head space and understand her emotions and motivations. She was incredibly relatable – she had social missteps in her relationship that I think everyone has, and it only served to make her that much more endearing. As previously mentioned, her Asperger’s didn’t define her as a character, it was a part of who she was but it wasn’t the sole point focus. Her growth was amazing, and the definition she had and grew into was phenomenal.

It’s not common in a romance to have both lead characters have equally interesting backgrounds and traits, but The Kiss Quotient was the exception to this rule. I was very surprised just how deep Michael’s background went – he wasn’t just a male escort, he was a man trying to keep his family’s business afloat. He’s trapped by his obligations to his family and can’t pursuit his real dreams. Watching him develop alongside Stella was delightful and felt realistic. Their chemistry was organic, it built as they got to know each other, and ended up off the charts.

The Kiss Quotient is one of those magical books that is somehow deeply romantic but also tackles serious topics gracefully, and has a diverse cast. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves romantic comedies or who is looking for a fresh take on the romance genre. If you are dying for more of Stella and Michael’s relationship after reading this, definitely check out Helen Hoang’s next book The Bride Test. It’s somehow just as (if not more) cute as The Kiss Quotient, with a new, unexpected couple and a few glimpses into Stella and Michael’s life together. 5/5

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  1. I’ve heard great things about this one but I’m not really a romance fan. I’m glad you enjoyed it though.
    Gemma @ Gemma’s Book Nook

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