Recommended Read, Review

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (2018)

Kiss Quotient, Book 1

Heat Factor: So hot and so awkward, all at the same time. It’s quite impressive, actually.

Character Chemistry: They **get** each other. It’s very sweet.

Plot: “I am socially awkward, please give me sex lessons.”

Overall: I stayed up well past my bedtime because I couldn’t put it down.

So I’m a little behind the times on this one, but I figured I should see what the hype was about – The Kiss Quotient did win the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance in 2018 AND Amazon’s Best Romance of 2018, after all. And much as I feel chagrin at being a joiner, I too am jumping on the bandwagon. Mainly because this book was so fun to read.

The basic premise is that Stella is autistic, and therefore has trouble with relationships – she doesn’t like being touched, she doesn’t like strong smells, and sometimes she says the wrong thing. Plus, she’s a workaholic. But her mom wants grandchildren, and she likes pleasing her mom, so she’s going to try to date. However, she decides that maybe dating, and more importantly, sex, will be easier if she practices.

Enter escort Michael, who Stella hires to give her some sex lessons.

By the way, she hires him because she thinks he looks like Daniel Henney:

Just so you have the right mental image for what Michael looks like.
You’re welcome.

Their first lesson is as awkward as one might expect, but also completely heartwarming.

As the book progresses, Stella and Michael’s arrangement morphs into a full-on practice relationship. So the primary source of conflict is the anxiety that both Stella and Michael feel as they catch feelings for each other, but worry that the other person is only in it for the arrangement and can do so much better. Therefore, things jump between hilarity – mainly because Hoang’s writing is so sharp – and angsty self-reflection.

While I normally get frustrated with characters who should just TALK to each other, in this case Hoang sets things up in such a way that it makes sense, especially in the case of Stella. She has difficulty reading social cues, and has found in the past that when she says what she’s thinking people get hurt; combined, these things make the way she doubts her relationship with Michael completely believable. (I cut Michael less slack, because apparently he has an inferiority complex because he’s an escort, but this side of his personality is less well developed, since he spends most of his time being pretty great.)

Look, I said this at the outset, but I’m going to close by repeating myself. This book is fun. I had a blast reading it. That is all.


P.S. Erin here! Holly snagged a copy of this just days before my library hold finally came through, and I was SO SAD because Holly called the review. But it’s okay, because now I have read this book in about 24 hours (because it was ah.maze.ing). So let me just say:

The plot synopsis is spot on, and everything is engaging and delightful, and I absolutely bought this relationship as well as the conflict. Yes, yes, yes. Everything Holly said. So while I’m in this gushing mood, I’ll simply add that one thing that made this book so delightful was the characterization of all the players. There’s a little “meet the family” thing going on that is charming and helps to humanize Michael and Stella. The little interactions between our protagonists and all the other characters also contributes to the feeling of building chemistry and romance between them. The not-relationship is so fraught with the boobytraps of “how do I avoid explaining this” and “I have to remember that this isn’t real” that the angsty struggle is riveting.

I wanted everything wonderful for these protagonists. They were great. What an excellent read!


Buy Now: Amazon

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