The Kiss Quotient

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

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
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
THE KISS QUOTIENT is an impressive debut romance. The portrayals of both families felt real and nuanced and injected some much-needed humor into a book that would have otherwise been sex and misunderstandings. The hero is pretty much perfect, but thinks he's bound to be terrible because his dad is. The heroine is also pretty much perfect, but thinks she's terrible because of a society that tells her Asperger's is a bug not a feature.

Another reviewer for my blog read this and was upset by some of the Asperger's portrayal, which I think illustrates the issues OwnVoices authors face with trying to be The One True Voice. It's not like every person who's neuroatypical is the same, but we all expect, when we pick up that book that might actually feature someone like us, to make us feel seen and somehow fulfilled.

I have sensory issues as well, and I do think this book relied on the audience to believe that Michael was somehow able to bypass all her triggers. I also hate kissing with tongue, for example. It feels slimy. Yeah, it sometimes seems like a good idea, in the heat of the moment, but the idea that Stella now loves kissing didn't ring true. I would have liked to see more emphasis throughout on how Michael's ability to be patient and pay attention to cues, to ask her directly what she wanted, was what made things work. Stella's past experiences with men made me cringe, as I've also done that. You give consent, it's not assault, but you're giving someone permission to use your body while you sit there and hope they get it over quickly. I'm not sure what the term for that is, but it's awful and I both appreciate and hated reading the way Stella assumed that was her fault. Misogyny + ASD = a perfect storm.

In the end, I liked the book and I'll be reading the next from Helen Hoang. Do I think this book was perfect? No. Is any book? No. Do I think readers with ASD will be hurt by this book? I'm not sure. My other reviewer was, I wasn't. This was the first time I read a main character in a romance get overstimulated at a club and run out to the street to vomit. That and the fact that Stella isn't "fixed" made me happy.

My assumption is that this, like many portrayals of queerness in fiction, may be generational. My reviewer wanted Stella to embrace her Asperger's. She wanted Stella to have friends, to be proof that an ASD diagnosis isn't the end of the world. But for a lot of people who are now adults, an Asperger's diagnosis really would have been. How recently would a kid have been pulled from school after an autism or Asperger's diagnosis? Pretty recently. And even if not pulled from public school, autism has never been as accepted as it is now (in the United States dominant culture). Families tried to literally beat it out of their children. Is it such a surprise that Stella would have retreated to the safe environs of family and work? None of this makes my reviewer's thoughts less valid, however. She was upset because she's younger and has been working hard to navigate friendship and work and school. She wanted hope and this book didn't give her that. 

Anyway, neurotypical people will probably universally love this book. Readers on the spectrum may want to check out some more reviews before cracking it open. As for the Asian American rep, it was lovely and one of the best parts of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Was this review helpful?
Very different from the usual romantic read. This book was both "steamier" than I expected, and also more thoughtful and thought-provoking than the usual. Stella and Michael have great chemistry. I love the exploration of neurodiversity, and it was also welcome to me as a reader that the novel sort of transcends race. We never find out what "different" race Stella is, and I think that is a refreshing change. As a librarian, I recommend this to readers who like romance, but are open minded and enjoy something a little more thoughtful and not so cookie cutter.
Was this review helpful?
What an amazing read! I heard a good bit of hype about this book, so I went into it with an open mind. It was such a heartwarming and fun read and I'm so glad I picked it up. Stella's character is so refreshing and honest and I loved that she wasn't just another typical character. Her internal dialogue was probably my favorite part of the whole novel! She is such an intriguing character and I loved how Hoang really made Stella and Michael's story come to life on the pages. 

The Kiss Quotient was an unexpectedly refreshing read and cannot recommend it enough. The characters were fun, the plot was unique, and the writing style was light and easy to read. I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy Christina Lauren novels! Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for sending this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating 4/5
Was this review helpful?
As much as I wanted to love this book, especially after my friends raving about how amazing it is, I was bored with it. I hope one day I can read it again and love it but for now, I didn't like or love it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for the opportunity to review this book. Unfortunately, I could not forge a connection to the characters or storyline, and could not complete the book. As a result, I am unable to feature a review on my blog or a tiger outlets at this time. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to meet this author’s work.
Was this review helpful?
i'm definitely in the minority on this but this book just didn't do it for me! The conversations felt forced and the characters weren't as developed as I love in romances
Was this review helpful?
Although it took awhile for me to fully immerse myself in this book, by half way through I really became hooked. This is was an interesting take on romance. I liked how Hoang creates a world centered around a character who has Asperger's. The story was real, honest, and downright precious!
Was this review helpful?
The Kiss Quotient is a breath of fresh air. After reading hundreds and hundreds of romances, I’ll admit I search out those stories that will still make my toes curl and get me giddy for the process of two people falling in love. In The Kiss Quotient, some of the best tropes are here: lessons in seduction, diverse characters and cultures, escort. But the shining star here is the very real portrayal of a heroine on the Austism Spectrum. You see, Stella has Asperger’s, a social disorder that finds her in her element at work as a numbers wizard but completely out of her element with anything that comes close to dating or sex. And that right there is the magic: a heroine whose differences allow her to shine and in the process teach us all something about the search for love.

Stella is nothing if not goal-oriented. With the pressures of an overbearing mother, Stella decides to take the bull by the horns and seeks the help of Michael Phan, a Swedish Vietnamese male escort, for the source of all her knowledge on how to become good at the finer points of male/female interaction, namely how to behave properly and seductively so she can land a guy. It’s the main area of her life that is lacking, according to her parents, society, and, if she’s honest, herself. 

But from the beginning, there’s something special between Stella and Michael, who are really more than business from the start. He’s not merely a male escort—in fact, he’s put his life on hold for those who depend on him, and he’s become disillusioned with the whole thing, until Stella. He’s patient and doesn’t put on a front with her. And in return, Stella’s blunt honesty becomes an openness with Michael. What follows is a lovely, refreshing contemporary romance that’s sexy and heartfelt. Best of all, Stella’s disorder doesn’t make her hard to relate to—if anything, it shows women everywhere what it’s like when women of any size, shape, struggle, or in between finds love. Stella’s Asperger’s has her feeling many of the same out of control feelings that we all feel when it comes to attraction, only heightened, and Michael is her perfect match. I love Helen Hoang’s unique perspective, and The Kiss Quotient is one of the best romances of 2018.
Was this review helpful?
It was definitely cute, and I get the appeal. I think it might be a bit too much for me on the romance side, I usually don’t go for things this hardcore. I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Was this review helpful?
A fun, sweet, sexy and sassy book. Perfect for our summer bookclub. Warning: It gets a little HOT!!!

The authors notes made it a 5 for me.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for providing the ARC for this review.

I LOVE this book! I want MORE like it! As someone on the spectrum there is very little positive representation out there. Most books focus around a family member who is Autistic and the devastation is wreaks on the main character. This is a CELEBRATION of neurodiversity and manages to normalize the condition and make it part of the character's unique personality, not use it as an obstacle she has to overcome. 

It is a true romance story about a neurodivergent woman and a neuronormal guy, it's an interracial romance (though you never find out what her ethnicity is, which is so COOL), and it's a realistic depiction of two people falling in love. I can't wait for book two! Horray Helen, please INSPIRE others to include autism in more fantastic fiction and not as the ugly elephant in the room.
Was this review helpful?
THIS WAS SUCH AN ENJOYABLE BOOK TO READ! The disability representation, the (steamy) romance, the character development, the unique writing style, and the impeccably fast pacing. I really enjoyed diving into this one, and I absolutely cannot wait to read more from Helen Hoang!
Was this review helpful?
This is a quirky love story brought to you from a completely different view. Snuggle in and enjoy this title that will make you think about your own experiences navigating love, life, and parents.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 25%.

I am sorry but I won't be reviewing this book because I did not finish it. I only got to 25% when I decided it was just not for me. It was too steamy, and I feel that everything I read until that point was about sex. We didn't get any other informations about characters, especially when it comes to male character.
However, since so many people seem to love this book I do believe there is more to the story then just sex and probably love that will develop, I just don't have motivation to continue reading.

Thank you so much for giving me a chance to read The Kiss Quotient and I am sorry for not liking it more.
Was this review helpful?
This was a Fun, light read for the summer. I enjoyed it and would recommend it for an easy read to friends and family.
Was this review helpful?