Thank you to Berkley for the advanced copy of THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang.  All opinions are my own.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | contemporary romance

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 to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, 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…

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The Kiss Quotient

Review

I have so much love for this story, I don’t even know where to begin!  This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it surpassed any expectations I may have had.  Not only is this ‘smart romance’ done right, it is also the stellar debut by author Helen Hoang.  Her depiction of a heroine with Aspergers is one of the best I’ve ever read and just makes me want to read every. single. thing she writes from here on out.

Stella has several absolutes in her life: numbers don’t lie, everything is a puzzle to be solved, and she loves structure and routine.  She also hates labels and doesn’t advertise the fact that she has Aspergers.  When her mother pressures her to date and settle down, she analyzes her life and realizes that she is indeed lonely—and may also be bad at love.  This conclusion leads her to hire an escort to help her ‘learn the ropes’ of relating to the opposite sex.

Michael has dreams that don’t include working as an escort, but after his father left his family in dire straights, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.  When he meets Stella, he’s intrigued by her and the situation she hopes to resolve.  What starts off as a simple business transaction quickly turns into something neither of them expected.

Stella is an exceptional heroine.  She is unfiltered and socially awkward, but it’s impossible for her to bend the truth.  There is so much raw emotion wrapped up in her inner thoughts and she displays so much courage and strength in her interactions with people who don’t understand her character.

Michael is perfect for Stella in every way.  He’s kind and patient, he isn’t put off by her idiosyncrasies, and he doesn’t treat her any differently than anyone else.  Michael and Stella both have vulnerabilities, but they compliment one another so well and the progression of their relationship is amazing to watch unfold.        

I am truly amazed that this is a debut novel, but The Kiss Quotient deserves all of the stars and accolades.  It’s definitely at the top of my favorite reads of the year and I can’t wait to read her next book, The Bride Test.

Excerpt

THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang

“You’ve watched Pretty Woman too many times. Kissing doesn’t mean anything, and it’s always best if you’re not thinking too much in bed. Trust me,” he said.

Her mouth thinned into a stubborn line. “This is too important for me not to think. I’d rather not kiss anymore if you don’t mind.”

Michael’s irritation redoubled, and he forced his hands to relax before he popped all his blood vessels. How the hell had he gotten himself into this? Ah yes, he’d been worried about his escort colleagues taking advantage of her. Stupid of him. His life was complicated enough without worrying about his clients. This was exactly why he had the one-session policy.

He would have backed out—it was tempting—but he’d promised. He always carried through on his promises. It was his way of balancing out the universe. His dad had broken enough promises for the both of them.

“All right,” he made himself say. “No kissing.”

“Do the other plans look okay?” she asked.

He forced himself to read them and found them pretty similar, only she’d moved from hand jobs to blowjobs and changed the sexual positions.

Amused despite himself, he said, “I’m surprised you used the terms ‘doggy style’ and ‘cow girl.’”

Her cheeks went bright red, and she adjusted her glasses. “I’m inexperienced, not clueless.”

“Your plans are missing something important.” He held his hand out, and she placed the pen in his palm with wary motions.

She tilted her head to the side as she watched him write FOREPLAY at the top of all the plans in capital letters. As an afterthought, he drew a box in front of each iteration with hard stabs of the pen.

“But why? I was under the impression men don’t need it.”

“You do,” he said flatly.

She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “You don’t have to bother with me.”

He narrowed his eyes. “It’s not a bother. Most men like foreplay. I do. Getting a woman hot is satisfying as hell.” Besides, he was not having sex with her if she wasn’t ready. No fucking way.

Swallowing, she stared down at the menu. “So you’re saying I don’t have a chance to improve.”

“What? No.” His mind scrambled to figure out why she might say that and came up with nothing.

“You saw how I reacted. It was one button.”

“And then you slept with me all night. You were basically naked, and you cling.”

“Are you two ready to order?” the waitress interjected. Judging by the amused glimmer in her eyes, she’d caught the last part of their conversation.

Stella perused the dinner options, her nails picking at the fabric edging of the menu.

“We’ll have the special,” Michael said.

“Wise choice. I’ll leave you to it.” The waitress winked, gathered the menus, and disappeared.

“What’s the special?” Stella asked.

“I have no idea. Let’s hope it’s not woolly.”

A troubled frown bracketed her mouth, and she leaned forward hesitantly, meeting his eyes for the briefest second. “What exactly do you mean by ‘cling?’”

Michael grinned. “It means you like to cuddle when you’re asleep.”

“Oh.”

She looked so horrified Michael couldn’t help laughing. “I confess to liking it.” Which was the truth, and unlike him. Cuddling was an obligatory thing he did for his clients because he understood they needed it. He usually spent the time counting the seconds until he could leave and go home to shower. Holding Stella had been nothing like that. They hadn’t had sex, so there’d been nothing to wash away, and the trusting way she’d curled into him had made him feel things he didn’t want to think about.

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About Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.