Hey guys. Today I’m going to be reviewing The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
I got the kindle edition of this book for free on Amazon (Thanks for the hookup Rebel Women Lit). I had seen this book on bookstagram and it was being hailed as a cute, light romance. I figured I could use that after finishing Kei Miller’s Augustown (that review is going to take me awhile y’all, I have to make sure I get that one right). Anyhoo, back to The Kiss Quotient.
It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend. Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal. The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic. – Goodreads
While it’s not my go to genre, I do like a lil’ romance every once in awhile. This one was sweet with the right amount of fluff. What I really enjoyed about it is that it wasn’t just another forgettable romance novel. This one has characters and scenarios that matter.
It was nice to see some righted Asian representation in a romance novel. I’m not sure what race Stella is but Michael we know is half Vietnamese, half Caucasian. Michael isn’t a skinny wimp with glasses who works in IT. He isn’t an Asian mafia boss type guy and he doesn’t have a corny sidekick with a colourful hair streak for no apparent reason. Michael is a hot, buff guy with a huge dragon tattoo who makes women swoon. Nice. I don’t know if I’d call this progress but it was refreshing. His Vietnamese family and culture are also displayed well throughout the book. It’s not forced, the family isn’t stereo-typically eccentric or wary and mistrusting of his white girlfriends. I didn’t have to roll my eyes once. My eyeballs were grateful.
Stella also represents another under represented group. She has autism, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome. This hit close to home as my youngest sister was diagnosed with Asperger’s when she was in high school. While my sister isn’t exactly like Stella, it made it easier to relate to and understand Stella as a character. How her mind works, how she keeps to a routine. The everyday challenges that comes with trying to relate to and communicate effectively with those around you. How to be in relationships be they platonic or romantic. I think the author did a good job showing us what life can be like for those on the spectrum. That’s what happens when the story is told by someone who is actually on the spectrum and not someone who has just read about it. It’s just more authentic.
In fact, there were many things I could relate to in this book. Stella’s parents wanting to know when is she going to get married and have babies (sigh). I could relate to Michael who kinda veered off the path he thought he wanted for himself to help his family but isn’t 100% happy about it. I can relate to him working in a family business and not feeling fulfilled, like he hasn’t reached his full potential.
The biggest and best thing about this book to me was how it handled consent. The importance of consent was stressed so much but not in a PSA kind of way. Stella made it clear she didn’t like to touch people without permission. Michael never ever touched, kissed or made any other other moves without Stella saying it was okay. He repeatedly told her to let him know when things were too much for her or if she was uncomfortable and when that happened he never tried to coerce her, he didn’t try to persuade her. He just backed off and said hey, let’s shower and get breakfast. Come on! This was so different to me because without giving any spoilers, Michael has issues and debt and stress, all the things we see in books that are used as an excuse for the guy to be abusive, to be manipulative or to just plainly be an asshole. As if his hard life makes it okay for him to be a terrible person who is terrible to women and we should understand. Nope. If Helen Hoang can make a character with issues who respects women, every author needs to jump on that bandwagon. Respect Helen. Respect.
There were of course some things I didn’t like about this book. The main one had to be all the sex. Yes, I know it’s a steamy romance novel but as an asexual I tend to forget that sometimes those kinds of plots involve a lot of sex. My bad. I personally could have done without all the whoopie scenes or at least have them not be so detailed so as to leave some things to the imagination but yeah, that’s just me. On the plus side, I loved the natural chemistry between the two characters. It was sweet to read albeit hot and heavy.
Also, while I’m happy Michael’s issues didn’t make him into a bad guy, I did get wary with the whole, I can’t love because I have daddy issues melodrama. That was too typical romance novel for my liking but hey, everybody needs a backstory right?
Overall, this was a nice, sexy romance and a great summer read if you are looking for one. I saw online that there is going to be a second book which focuses on another character in the book that we heard of but not too much about. I think I will keep an eye out for that one, it could be interesting.
“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.”
“Because she hated to say no, she’d said yes.”
“You don’t like French kissing?” “It makes me feel like a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish.” It was weird and far too personal.
“If you can’t stand being with a woman who’s more successful than you, then leave her alone. She’s better off without you. If you actually love her, then know the value of that love and make it a promise. That is the only thing she needs from you.”
“This crusade to fix herself was ending right now. She wasn’t broken. She saw and interacted with the world in a different way, but that was her. She could change her actions, change her words, change her appearance, but she couldn’t change the root of herself. At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”
Have any of you read this book? Let me know what you thought.
Til next time 🙂