Published by Berkley Books on June 5, 2018
Source: First to Read
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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.
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 crave all of the other things he's making her feel. 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...
I have been obscenely busy at work – we’re talking 17+ hour days, 7 days a week, all friggin month. Ugh. I only say this to put my next words in context. After staring at data on a computer all day, I still couldn’t wait to get home to Kiss Quotient. I was literally holding my eyes open to get in a few more words before I passed out from exhaustion each night. It is the ultimate feel-good, slump-buster, breath-of-fresh-air I so desperately needed in my May.
“Which was actually one of her main weaknesses, and a defining characteristic of her disorder. She didn’t know how to be semi‑ interested in something. She was either indifferent . . . or obsessed. And her obsessions weren’t passing things. They consumed her and became a part of her. She kept them close, wove them into her very life. Just like her work…He was an obsession waiting to happen.”
I think Kiss Quotient was so successful for me because the main characters, Stella and Michael, and their surrounding families and coworkers feel immensely authentic. Stella is my first MC on the Autism spectrum. As a person with my own triggers for other disorders, I had some worries before I picked this up, but at no point did I feel anything other than honesty for Stella’s characterization and Helen Hoang’s delicate yet thorough care of the people she created. There was no gimmicky illness like in other books I’ve read (and mostly DNF’ed). No shtick. Stella’s character and disorder had purpose and merit, and there was also a real beauty in the truth she exemplified. In the afterword, Hoang talks about her experience with her own diagnosis, adding all the more credibility to the work.
“‘Why won’t you look at me?’ She trained her eyes on the notch at the base of his throat and hunched her shoulders forward. ‘I’m feeling very self‑ conscious.’ ‘We’re both naked.’ She didn’t know how to explain that it was on the inside that she was feeling naked. If he looked into her eyes, he’d see all of her, the person she kept hidden away. No one wanted to see that. This was supposed to be fun and educational, not soul‑baring. He tipped her chin back, and she caught a glimpse of tender eyes before she squeezed her own shut. ‘Kiss me, please,’ she said.”
And now Michael. Wooooooooooooooooeeeee. Talk about sexy. I’m a sucker for escorts with a heart of gold – I have seen Pretty Woman a million times after all. And let me tell you, I am all here for the gender-reversal on that classic that we get in Kiss Quotient. I want more hot Michael, more hot hotel sex, more hot…Vietnamese food. I want it all.
“Stella’s attraction to him had been obvious, but she hadn’t looked at him like he was an expensive cut of meat. She’d looked at him like she saw no one else. He couldn’t forget the way she’d kissed him once he’d earned her trust, the way she’d melted.”
The book has certainly set the precedent for my summer reading, and might even make my shortlist for best of the year. Ok, I seriously want some pho now while I swoon all over again thinking about this delicious read.
“The world stopped. All was silence but for their hearts trying to synchronize their crashing.”