“Three sessions. That’s the most I’ll do,” he said.
It took her a moment to understand that by sessions, he meant lessons, but when she did, her heart sprinted so fast her fingertips went numb. He was going to help her. Could three lessons possibly be enough to perfect sex? There was so much she had to learn, so much she was bad at, but what choice did she have? Maybe if they planned out everything very carefully….
The Kiss Quotient
By: Helen Hoang
Purchased through: Book of the Month Club
Why I Read It
I’ve been in something of a reading rut this month. I’ve been checking books off my to-read list without being drawn in which is unfortunate, because that’s the fun of reading for me. I like to be so absorbed that I forget about my surroundings, lose track of time, and feel like I can’t stop reading but then sad when I finish it.
The Kiss Quotient is the first book I’ve read lately that’s given me all the feelings.
This was my June Book of the Month Pick—in part because I want to read all things light and fluffy now that I’m on summer break—but also because this book would be right in my wheelhouse any time of year. It’s corky and romantic, which are basically my two favorite things in a book.
Stella Lane is a 30-year-old who has never quite got the hang of dating and sex, because she also happens to have Asperger’s. But when, Stella’s mother makes it clear that she’s ready for grandchildren, she decides that what she needs to get comfortable with dating is practice. (Because practice makes perfect, right?) With this sound logic, she decides the most practical approach would be to hire a male escort. Enter Michael Phan, the extremely handsome and talented professional romancer. They enter into a “practice relationship” that turns out to be anything but pretend.
Light and fluffy indeed. The writing in this book is smart, funny, and easy on the brain. What I mean by that is that Hoang’s prose feels effortless, even though I’m sure it was result of hard work. It’s like when the girl next to you in yoga pops up into a headstand like it’s no big deal, but when you try it, you fall on your face. (Or is that just me?). I absolutely flew through this book in two afternoons at the pool. I also liked that she also alternates between Stella’s and Michael’s point of view, which a smart choice in this story. It helps build the tension of the plot and you get two distinct voices.
I could go on and on about all the reasons I loved Stella as a protagonist, but I will stick to the most significant things. Let’s start with her Asperger’s, which is a huge part of the novel. Many hat tips to Hoang for her depiction of this disorder. I am actually always weary of books where a character is autistic, because I come with my own biases. My brother is severely autistic, so I am admittedly sensitive and critical of the way individuals on the spectrum are portrayed in literature, movies, or TV shows. Anyway, Stella was refreshing, honest, and very real. The way she experienced and processed her emotions felt so honest and had me rooting through her from beginning to end. Just. Bravo.
Now, Michael. Not your typical hero, which I also liked. He had some pretty significant emotional baggage as depicted through his backstory. Hoang dangles it like a carrot at your from the very beginning, but you don’t know the whole story until the end. I also found his reaction to Stella’s disorder to be heartwarming. I had no trouble rooting for him either.
Now, I knew this was a romance when I chose it. But I have to admit that I somehow missed the whole male-escort-sex-practice angle of the plot. This did not detract from my enjoyment. The plot is well-paced and kept me turning pages at an almost alarming rate. Much of the novel focuses on the relationship between Stella and Michael, and there is plenty of tension to keep you sufficiently hooked. Full Disclosure: there is a lot of explicit sex in this book. I would have to say that it’s probably the most explicitly described sex I’ve read in a novel since Fifty Shades (though MUCH better written). If that’s not your cup of tea, you will find yourself skimming a lot. If you don’t skim, your face my flush a bit if you read it in public like I did!
I whole-heartedly recommend this book. If you can’t tell from the above gushing, I adored this book. It was fun, sexy, endearing, and empowering all at the same time. Pick up a copy and put it in your beach bag right now.
Helen Hoang, if you are reading this, please write more books. Immediately.
If you also subscribe to Book of the Month, what was your June pick? Did you love The Kiss Quotient as much as I did? Have you read another romance you think I might like? Let me know!