Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Book Review: "The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang

Is my face still red? Boy, this book was seriously STEAMY!! I don't have a problem with sex scenes or anything like that, but I was really unprepared for the intensity of the sex in this book. I guess if I had read the plot summary a little closer I would have known.

Stella Lane is an econometrician. She's most comfortable around her statistics and algorithms. Because she has Asperger's, she's really not comfortable around other people. She's usually very direct and honest, which many people don't like. And where dating is concerned, she fares even worse, because she's no good at small talk and physical contact—and forget about sex. (She likens French kissing to a "shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish.")

But with her mother hassling her about grandchildren, pushing her to join Tinder, and setting her up on blind dates, Stella decides to approach her shortcomings in a research-oriented way. She hires an escort to help her improve her confidence as well as her, umm, technical skills. She's unprepared for how handsome, sensitive, and intelligent Michael Phan is, and she's completely unprepared for the feelings he stirs in her.

While Michael has rules about escorting, particularly never seeing a client more than once, Stella does something to him. It's more than her beauty, it's how unaware she is about her sensuality, how focused she is on trying to "master" everything from foreplay to the missionary position and beyond. But as much as he wants to get closer to her, he knows this is just a job, and he has secrets he doesn't want her to know.

As the two draw closer, their feelings for one another become more complicated and they're not sure how to go on. Is it possible their relationship, such as it is, could have a future? Are their feelings for each other true, or are they just borne from their business arrangement?

The Kiss Quotient is a sweet, sexy story about two vulnerable people who are confident with their skills but not sure if they're worthy of love. It's a story about self-confidence and learning to believe you're special and don't deserve to be treated badly. And it's also a story about finding love in the most unlikely of places.

Sure, we've seen stories like this before, although mostly with the genders reversed. That's one of the things I liked so much about this book—Helen Hoang mentions in her author's note that she had a gender-swapped Pretty Woman on her mind for some time before writing this. I also liked the fact that while Stella has Asperger's, and there are certain facets of her personality that factor in the plot, it wasn't the big deal it often is in novels.

I read Hoang's The Bride Test first (even though she wrote it after this one) and I'm really a fan of hers now. I love the sensitivity and complexity she brings to her characters. Even though you know where the story will ultimately go, you enjoy the journey along the way, even if it may make you a little embarrassed to read the book in front of people!

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