The Kiss Quotient

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

Featured on Season 1 Episode 8 of The Infatuated Podcast ("Four romance books that will make you a better person"), to be published on January 10, 2018.

Hands down my favorite book of 2018. This book changed my life and my perception of who I am. 

The main trope is reverse Pretty Woman, so the hero is a male escort the heroine hires to help her explore her sexuality.. The hero has so much patience, and such a big heart (not to mention SKILLS), that I just wanted to cuddle him and love him and take him home with me. The heroine has some very specific challenges, and she just sparkles as a person. Her situation is probably more common mainstream media portrays, and I ached for her, really felt her struggles. 

At the end of this book, the author talks about her struggle and being late diagnosed with autism and recommends some books. Don't skip this last part! I recommend this book to ANYBODY, even if you believe you do not have autism or you're perfectly normal, whatever your perception of "normal" is. The Kiss Quotient will open your eyes to the struggles that some people have, and it might make you more willing to accept other people's quirks.
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The Kiss Quotient is such a cute and adorable book. It only took me 2.5 days to finish it and it took longer because, you know, life, LOL, or else I would have finished it sooner.  I did a lot of sneak reading at work too. (shhhhh)

When I first got The Kiss Quotient, I knew I was going to love it, I mean, just look at the cute cover! Thank you Berkley for my adorable package too. Look at that mug!

But for real though, this book was amazing.  It was super cute and hilarious! Can I just talk about my favorite secondary character?  Ngoai was stinkin HILARIOUS! I loved reading the parts when he took Stella to visit his family. His mom, grandma and sisters were amazing. Coming from a big family myself, I can totally relate with Michael. 

But right now I want to talk about the funny, yet hot sex scenes! Yes, I said "funny." Poor Stella had like, zero experience before she met Michael. Her previous sexual encounters were pretty depressing, actually, which is the reason why she hired him in the first place. Now, Michael is a pro....literally, but he's not cocky either. He's sweet and gentle and after the first night with Stella, he knows he is going to break his number one rule - Don't see the same client twice.  But sometimes in life, things don't always go according to plan. And that is not always a bad thing. 

Another thing that I love about The Kiss Quotient, is the awareness that this little book brings to autism. Stella, the main character has Aspergers and Helen brings to light Stella's daily struggles. Even the simplest things and situations, can cause over stimulation and cause severe anxiety. I have never read a book that has a character, with autism.  So, Helen, thank you for sharing Stella with us! 

It's hard to believe that this is Helen's debut novel. She through this one out of the ballpark. So make sure you add this one to your TBR list. Better yet, add it and then go buy it! It's a perfect summer read!
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If I had taken the time to read the synopsis of this book, I would have gotten to this one so much sooner. I’ve read a few romances where the Hero has Asperger’s but this is the first book I’ve read that it’s the Heroine who has the disorder. 

I loved EVERYTHING about this book! The plot and characters were superb! I am beyond thrilled that my last read of 2018 is this spectacular one. Sometimes when I see a ton of five-star reviews for a book by an author I’ve never heard of before, I get a bit skeptical but I can honestly confirm this book deserves ALL THE STARS!!! 

Michael and Stella's journey to love was beautiful and super steamy. The story flowed so perfectly. Never did I have the urge to gloss over anything. This book consumed me!

Here are my overall ratings:

Hero: 5++++
Heroine: 5+++++
Plot: 5++++
Angst: 4.5
Steam: 5
Chemistry Between Hero & Heroine: 5+++++

THE KISS QUOTIENT is currently available and if you haven’t read this one yet, get to it as soon as possible!!
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Absolutely adorable! If Rainbow Rowell wrote Sheldon Cooper as a sparky, shy woman, with a dose of steamy romance and a touch of Project Runway, it would look something like Helen Hoang’s debut novel. I am incredibly impatient for her next book in this series!
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Stella Lane, a successful single econometrician who has Asperger’s, has been informed by her mother that she is ready for grandchildren. Stella--who would normally appreciate the head’s up to prepare for new situations she doesn’t like or at the very least is uncomfortable in--has a problem. She is horrible when it comes to men. Men don’t like to date her because she’s not feminine enough for them, she says the first thing that comes out of her mouth (and it’s never tactful), and she’s obsessed with work. Oh, and she hates sex. Everything about it. The invasion of personal space, the sweating, the French kissing that reminds her of pilot fish, the overwhelming colognes, and most of all, how she shuts down during the act and hopes they finish soon and leave. 

And if she’s not good at sex, she’s hardly going to find that man to provide the grandchildren her mother wants, though she’s not all too sure she wants one of those either. They’re messy, sticky, touchy-feely little creatures. What she’d like is to work in peace 24/7, but apparently that’s socially unacceptable. 

However, there’s a co-worker Stella thinks she would like, but he’s not interested in her. And his suggestion to her--completely unasked for, mind you--is to practice having more sex because once she “likes it”, then men will like her. (You’ll be relieved to know this douche-canoe is not who she practices with.)

Still, Stella loves to solve a problem; and she’s willing to solve her problem of hating sex--she just needs to hire a professional. She decides that if she hires someone to have sex with her and teach her the basics, she will feel more confident about attempting to date her co-worker (yes, the douche-canoe). She hires Michael Phan.

Michael has the looks of a K-drama star and some martial arts skills to match; however, it is the kindness in his eyes that prompts Stella to hire him. Michael arrives to meet his client for the evening--sans cologne per request--and is surprised to find Stella needs to hire an escort in the first place. She’s beautiful, smart, sweet, and insanely sexy. Why would she ever need to hire a man? Once back in the hotel room, Michael is even more confused by her need to hire someone. 

“You smell this good?”
“Apparently. You’re the first to comment on it.”
“I want this smell all over me.” As the words left her mouth, she worried she’d said the wrong thing. That statement sounded a little too personal, a little too strange. Would he notice how strange she really was?
He bent down so his lips hovered a hairsbreadth away from her ear and whispered, “Are you sure you’re bad at sex?” 

But the situation unravels from here; and soon Michael realizes Stella is definitely not his regular sort of client. She will need a much slower hand when it comes to bedroom things. For her he is willing to break his “one-time” rule to give her a month’s worth of lessons. It isn’t long before Stella appreciates Michael’s kisses, his touches and closeness; and he finds himself feeling all sorts of things for a woman who is only ever going to be a temporary arrangement. 

I wanted to read this book because it ticked several things for me: it had a diverse Asian American character (I love Jeannie Lin’s historical set novels and wanted a more modern situation) who had Asperger’s (which I had read The Rosie Project and loved--so I was looking forward to how this element would weave in this story); it had the complicated family dynamics that I gravitate to (the grandmother that lives with his family, the high expectations of your career goals from the parents, the constant criticism that everyone you bring home is not good enough); and it had Pretty Woman with a gender flip. 

However I nearly abandoned the book three times in the space of the first twenty pages: the mother demanding grandchildren (even under the pretense of telling her now so she has time to prepare) felt grossly insensitive to Stella’s situation. At first I felt like her mother was treating Stella as someone who couldn’t be normal if she didn’t have kids or a man--which was not cool, especially if Stella wasn’t sure she really wanted either of those things. And Stella’s hiring of an escort to practice something she “hated” felt like it was going to be a rapey like book. Fortunately Michael proved himself to be a hero worth waiting for because at no point was he ever going to do anything Stella didn’t want to do; and it wasn’t long in his company, with his patient touches and gentle kisses, that Stella was a lot more interested in doing things that previously and UNDERSTANDABLY were undesirable to her before. 

Both Michael and Stella are heartbreaking characters. I couldn’t help but love both of them immediately and love them both throughout the book. Stella’s self-loathing for her personality ‘quirk’ (as I think of it) makes her want to overcome it--or at least hide it at all costs--and the transformation throughout the book as she comes to accept it and how Michael accepts it without ever making her feel less than is the kind of love we all long for. Michael’s reasons for escorting are honorable as well as a way to metaphorically flip the bird to his father who abandoned his family. He needs lots of money, fast and consistently, and technically speaking this takes few hours of his time as he spends the rest of his life hiding his sideline job. 

By the end of the book I loved Stella’s mother, as well as all of Michael’s family members (well, except his father who stays a jerk). Much like Pretty Woman, it all works out in the end. They both grow and become better people because of each other. They’re the kind of couple you believe in happily ever after for. Also, this book is hell-la funny. I was reading this book in the tub at one point; and I nearly drowned myself laughing when Stella hands over proposed lesson plans to Michael. If you read this in the tub: you’ve been warned. 

5 Star - Top Dish Review by Hellie for The Romance Dish
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Just wasn't my cup of tea! Was way too full of cliches; A small cute innocent MC , who is smart smart, rocks at sex but shy and doesn’t know it. The handsome guy who is perfect, smart, caring, athletic and has abs, every stupid you should swoon over. Add insta love to the mix voila.

Also i hate when love cure serious disabilities/illness ugh! And this book had that..
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Holy hotness! That goes both for the hero and the heat in The Kiss Quotient.

I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve had this book sitting in my TBR pile for a several months. When I finally read the blurb and realized it was about a gigolo, my interest in it cooled. Just not my idea of romance if you know what I mean. Being a carefree playboy is one thing but getting paid to sleep with women—and sometimes women you don’t particularly like? I could I fall for a hero like that.

Then along came Michael.

After my good friend read The Kiss Quotient and expressed how much she loved the book, I remembered I had it and decided to give it a try. My friend Lori isn’t exactly easy to please. I started reading it and was immediately hooked. The second Michael appeared on the pages, I knew I was in for the long haul. And what a fantastic ride it was.

Stella Lane, our dear heroine, doesn’t really like sex. She’s not good at it. Actually, she’s not good at relationships and she believes it has to do with her Asperger’s because once men find out she’s autistic, they tend not to stick around. She believes that if she can get better at sex, maybe getting and keeping a relationship will be easier. Enter Michael Khan. She discovers his profile on an escort service site and books him.

I fell fathoms deep in love with Michael. Lord that man is hot and so considerate and kind. He’s truly one of those “good” guys parents want their daughters to marry. That he is also drop-dead gorgeous and puts the sex in sexy is an added bonus. Given his current part-time gig as a male escort, it’s understandable why Michael is pretty jaded when it comes to relationships and sex. Experience has taught him—bad experience—that he has to limit his “interactions” with his clients to one. Women have gotten obsessed and stalked him after he stopped seeing them. He doesn’t want a repeat of that. Then along comes beautiful, awkward, blunt sometimes to the point of rudeness Stella. He ends up breaking the rules and takes her on as a long-term client.

Stella and Michael are meant to be together. They just fit. They are simply adorable and boy is the sex scorching hot. I think that’s what surprised me the most about this book. I went into it thinking maybe there’d be a couple of mild to sensual love scenes. Boy was I wrong. I read this with my fan in hand and fluttering wildly. Michael is very good at what he does. 😉 Then of course there’s his backstory. Talk about grabbing you by the heart and squeezing hard. My heart ached for him, for the situation he found himself in. I ached reading about how his father shaped his life. I ached for the career he had to put to the side to take care of his mother. And I dare anyone not to love his family. I will never forget the scene when Stella first meets them. Yikes.

And what can I say about Stella. She’s adorable and so earnest in her quest to become better at sex. That she almost immediately falls for Michael isn’t a surprise but I also loved her determination to initially do everything by the book, or I should say by the list she comes up with. She’s not going to be one of those women who stalk him when their arrangement comes to an end.

What a great cast of characters I got to read about. From Michael’s mother Me to his sisters and Stella’s mother. The dialogue is witty and the interactions between the characters are natural. The black moment had me freaking out just a bit. I should have seen it coming but I didn’t. I really loved that it caught me off guard, and I love that when it was all said and done, I didn’t want their story to be over. I want more of Stella and Michael. I’m officially putting in a request to Ms. Hoang for her to follow up on their relationship in an upcoming book. And kudos to a fantastic debut!

~ Beverley
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I found this book amazing.  I loved the character development, I really cared about the characters.  Excellent writing and it held my attention well.
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A fantastic and unique contemporary romance debut, with realistic, well-developed characters and plenty of steamy scenes. Hoang does an incredible job bringing two different characters together in a perfectly plotted courtship.
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This was wonderful! A diverse, fun, sexy romance. We recommend this book often on the Wicked Wallflowers Club podcast, and Helen was a delight to interview. Very excited to see what she does next!
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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a 2018 Berkley publication. 

A real charmer!

Stella, an Econometrician, has intimacy issues, perhaps a symptom of her Asperger’s. With her mother growing impatient for grandchildren, and after absorbing an ugly comment, which took aim at Stella’s lack of sexual experience, she decides to hire a male escort to ‘teach’ her everything she needs to know about dating and sex. 

Michael Phan has never had a client like Stella. She touches a part of him, he keeps barricaded, especially with clients. Her effect on him is so powerful, he agrees to give her lessons on sex and dating, against his better judgment, and breaking every single personal rule of his profession.

However, their business arrangement soon develops into something neither of them could have anticipated. Before long, Stella begins to figure in a new type of equation- love!

Okay, I’ve seen the huge marketing push for the book, and I’ve had many friends on social media and book sites fawning it. From experience I know when a book gets this level of hype it is very important to approach it with a modicum of caution. Even though I was chomping at the bit to start this one, pushing everything else to the wayside if need be, I cooled my engines and let some of the furor die down before I finally allowed myself to read it. 

So, did it live up to all that publicity?

I adored this story. It’s unique, featuring a female character who struggles to find her niche in a world that embraces conformity and uniformity. I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome, but I am an extreme introvert, so I could relate to some of the struggles Stella fought to overcome. I immediately warmed to her character and hoped she would find the confidence she had buried inside of her all along.

While I didn’t know how to feel about Michael’s unorthodox occupation, I did LOVE this guy’s gentle patience. It was fun watching Stella crawl under his skin, seeing how he understood her, quirks and all, and how they managed to create a relationship with each other, as Michael slowly draws Stella out. Michael turned out to be a terrific hero, and I might have developed a secret and deliciously sinful crush on him. 

That said, the book was still a wee bit over-hyped. While I understand why some felt this one was special and deserved a lot of attention, the format, at its core, is not much different from any other contemporary romance. The writing or prose didn't set it apart from any other books out there, although it is obvious the author knew her subject matter intimately. 

What does set it apart is the diversity, and the boldness of placing a character with Asperger’s as a lead in a romantic comedy. The delicate balance of approaching the syndrome with respect and the gravity it deserves, while adding in humor and poignancy, is very well done. From that perspective the story is very original, unique, and refreshing! 

Everything you love about romance is here: It's hot and steamy, funny, charming, emotional, and inspiring, with a lovely feel good ending. 

However, this one gives voice to those rarely featured in these types of stories. I love that about this book!! I for one, applaud this new angle and approach to contemporary romance, and hope to see more books step away from the standard 'Plain Jane' tropes and branch out into new, mostly unexplored territory, in the romance genre. Books like this one could help the genre shake off a few of its hardwired stigmas and reach a much broader audience. 

4.5 stars
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An utterly charming romance. Stella is a heroine that I loved to root for; she and Michael have great chemistry and complicated but authentic roadblocks on their way to a happy ending. I especially appreciated the inclusion of a heroine on the spectrum. Looking forward to more books by this author!
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The Kiss Quotient was a great remix of an older trope that combined banging, family drama, and learning to have confidence in yourself in one great read. Helen Hoang can feel free to dust off every single romance trope with her fascinating perspective on the world—I'm there for it.
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Lovely representation of an autistic main character with a happily ever after. Many of my adult students and readers will love this title for its realness, deep character development, and fresh approach to romance!
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With how highly anticipated The Kiss Quotient has been this year, I was so very disappointed that I could not get into it. I know it's more of a me issue than the book being the issue since so many readers are raving about it, but for whatever reason I couldn't fall into the writing. After trying to pick it back up with no success, I'm thinking Helen's writing is just not for me, but I do hope to try a future novel of hers just to make sure,
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This book was so ridiculously good!! It was more steam than I normally like, but the rest was so sweet!!! I loved the story and the characters. Couldn't put it down.
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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
What it’s about:
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 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…
Why you should read it: There never seems enough hours in the day to read all the books that we want to read. However, you truly need to put aside some time for The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Talk about being charming, sexy and oh so satisfying!
For some of you, the perfect part of the book will be the sometimes sweet and sometimes funny but always sexy love scenes, but the characters are what made the book for me. But then again, Hoang has me at “Hello …” with the first sentence:
“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 is not the first character in a book to have Asperger’s, but there is a wonderful sense of realism to her characterization. And there is a reason why, as author Hoang explains in the Author’s Note:
What started out as mere research for a book became a journey of self-realization… . As I pursued and eventually attained a diagnosis (at age thirty-four), Stella, my autistic heroine, was born on the page. It has never been so easy for me to write a character. I knew her intimately. She came from my heart.
Stella is not a quirky character. She’s simply a character who has difficulties in social situations. She wants to fit in, and she wants to do the right thing, but that doesn’t come easy to her, even with her parents:
“That’s my girl,” her father said, standing up and brushing off his silk Hawaiian shirt before hugging her…
As she gave him a quick hug—she didn’t mind touching when she initiated it or had time to mentally prepare for it… 
So, who would be best to help her enjoy sex so she can give her parents the grandchildren they want? Stella decides she needs a professional. After looking at pages and pages of pictures, she chooses Michael Phan — if someone is going to teach her to more than tolerate sex, then at least let it be with someone she finds attractive:
His body was raw sculpted muscle and loose-limbed coordination. He was by far the finest male specimen she’d ever laid eyes on.
In his younger days, Michael Phan was a hound dog. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he decided that he might as well get paid for sex. Plus, it seemed the perfect way to get revenge on his father.
As you can somewhat surmise, most of the women who use Michael’s service tend not to be young. So, he is shocked when he first sees Stella:
Her dark hair was pulled back in a tight bun and sexy librarian-type glasses were balanced on a cute little nose. In fact, from what he could see of her, everything looked like it had been chosen from a sexy librarian cosplay.
The sexual attraction between Michael and Stella is there immediately:
An electric jolt shot from her fingertips straight to her heart. He looked so perfect, like carved stone, but his skin was smooth and hot, firm but giving, alive.
“You can touch me, he said. “Anywhere.”
From this first meeting, Hoang takes readers on a wonderful romantic journey as Stella and Michael overcome trust issues, intimacy issues and misunderstandings. This is a book you don’t want to miss.
Leigh Davis is a former contributor to Heroes and Heartbreakers. When she is not reading, she’s usually outside throwing balls to her insatiable dogs. She loves hearing and talking about great books. You can connect with her on Twitter and Goodreads.
MORE ON HEA: See an excerpt from The Kiss Quotient and an interview with Helen
EVEN MORE: See more posts by Leigh
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One of my favorite books of the year.  

I loved the characterization of the two principal characters - and the secondary characters that inhibit their world.  Stella is a complex, nuanced heroine, refreshingly different from the everyday 'quirky' contemporary women I meet in most books; Michael is similarly intriguing - flaws and all.  Nothing about this pair seems forced or contrived and their difference absolutely enhance their love affair.  I felt like I was on a journey as Stella and Michael learned truths about themselves, each other...and their relationship.  Ms. Hoang marvelously twists the slow burn relationship trope - physical intimacy gives way to emotional intimacy instead of the more traditional m/f dynamic - and I love the way this author inverts the typical relationship progression.

The setting is brilliantly realized, the story is engaging and compelling, the romance is sexy, startling and...well, the sex scenes are sexy, passionate, and deeply - profoundly - moving.

Everything about this debut is marvelous and I will be back for more! more! more!
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After all of the buzz about this book, it had a lot to live up to! And it did. It is a warm, fuzzy, spicy romance with an interesting heroine and, I think, my favorite hero this year. 

Very well done, I liked that both Stella and Michael had some issues to work past, and unknowingly helped each other mature. Stella's mainly was that she had zero confidence in her own attraction, while she was doing just fine professionally. Michael's baggage mostly came from self-overguilting at his father's shenanigans.
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Stella, who has Asperger’s and an econometrician, prefers to work than to date anyone. She has difficulty in communication, no eye contact and has troubles in social gathering. Michael, an escort, has Vietnamese and Swedish heritage and “dark past”.

The Kiss Quotient is in two POVs. I like it that I get to read both Stella and Michael’s a perspective. I would like to commend Helen Hoang in writing Stella’s POV because it is on point, well-researched. Someone who has Asperger’s is not the same as someone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A person with Asperger’s is highly functional, though there are symptoms that are similar to a person with ASD. On the other hand, it’s kind of weird to read Michael’s POV because my husband name is Michael. Anyway, the character development is all right. At some point, it is frustrating that every time Stella is having a great time with Michael she remembers that Michael is her practice boyfriend. But this one is intense. I have read some reviews before that this one is steamy. But NO ONE told me it was super intense steamy. 

Also, this book shows Asian family ties. How Michael’s family show strength, love, support and value each other. Also, it’s kinda funny to read Stella’s parents push her to find a boyfriend and marry. They are being supportive and do not want Stella to age alone.

Overall, I enjoy reading this book. It is in good pace, page-turner, jaw-dropping hot guys and highly addictive great story.
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