The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Title: The Kiss Quotient
(The Kiss Quotient #1)
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: June 5, 2018
Sex Work, Sexual Assault, Cancer,
Cheating, Scams, Graphic Sex,
Class-ism
Vietnamese, Asperger's, Autism

Oh my gosh. I was not expecting to like any more contemporary romances, but from the first few chapters, I was seriously intrigued and loved it. I mean… sure the sex scenes got pretty steamy and I read it in public hard core blushing, but the personable parts got so romantic that I couldn’t believe I was getting into it.

Stella Lane is our brilliant econometrician and making hella bank off what she does. Yes, boo. She don’t need a man because she pays her own bills, buys her own clothes, her own Tesla, everything. She’s self-sufficient and speaks her mind – but also does her best to make sure that she doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable with her honest truth. She does care, she just has to take more time to think about what she says before it comes out.

Michael Phan has the dream job of being an escort. He uses that sexy body of his to make women feel good, and they pay him for it. I mean, sure it can be a dream job for most people, but for Michael, it’s just a way to make some money so he can pay for his mother’s hospital bills. It sucks having cancer and no health insurance (welcome to America).

When Stella’s mom asks her when she plans on giving them grandchildren – I hate when that happens and it sucks – she hires an escort to teach her how to be better at sex. Why sex? Because sex makes grandchildren of course.

But Stella’s mom knows that she is autistic, and she KNOWS that she does not like being touched, isn’t good at human interaction without making people feel uncomfortable, has a very short tolerance for overstimulation, and just… yeah. Way to put the pressure on her, Ann.

Michael ends up being that escort that she hires because she was the most physically attracted to his profile out of the others – it doesn’t help that he looks similar to one of her favorite K-Drama stars and gives off some K-Drama vibes despite being Vietnamese-Swedish – and he realizes that she really isn’t like any of the clients that he’s ever had before.

They may actually end up falling in love with one another, while teaching each other how great sex can be between two strangers.

This crusade to fix herself was ending right now. She wasn’t broken. She saw and interacted with the world in a different way, but that was her. She could change her actions, change her words, change her appearance, but she couldn’t change the root of herself. At her core, she would always be autistic. People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.

Stella on her Transformation

I was so, so, so, so, SO proud of Stella at this realization. She thought that she needed to change herself and make her get over her feelings of certain things in the most dramatic way possible, but then this part happened. I was just so happy that she finally realized this. Too many times people are shamed for having a disability that makes them interact with the world in a different way from the masses, and too many times people feel the need to make themselves be “normal” to be treated like human. This isn’t true, and this isn’t fair to them.

Also the family dynamic of Michael, all twenty thousand of his sisters, his Me and his Ngoai was just so great to see. It reminded me of how I wish my family was, and how when we are good, we come together to take care of my grandma. It showed a family unit that I could relate to, and I was so proud of that. Sure, the dad was out of the picture, but so is mine and it shows that true family doesn’t leave you to defend for yourself when the going gets tough. Their family just really warmed my heart, even if they got into arguments like every family is prone to do.

I swear so many romances have drama because the couple in question DOES NOT COMMUNICATE THEIR FULL AND TRUE FEELINGS FROM THE GET GO. I mean oh my gosh. It was clear from everyone that surrounded them how much they were both falling in love with one another, and not just because of the sex.

Don’t get me wrong. From these descriptions, the sex was rad.

But even just being together physically and getting to know one another. Michael learned how to read Stella’s moods and her routines, and Stella was able to be comfortable enough with herself AND him that she had never felt before. But since they both refuse to tell each other that this arrangement seems to have moved pass the physical, they seem to be stick in sex-limbo.

COMMUNICATE, PEOPLE.

I also hate that privileged people look down on others that are not so privileged. There’s a scene in here where Stella’s dad has a preconceived judgment on Michael because of something he says, and it’s just disgusting. It could be worse honestly, but it was just terrible. I hated that part so much and I felt for Michael. It sucks being judged because you aren’t in a rich family or whatever.

Her heart crashed in a crazy rhythm against her sternum, but she was still in control of herself – because, clever person that he was, he’d given her that control.

Stella & Michael’s first encounter

I am honestly so freaking happy with these first few chapters because of this. Consent is so, so, so sexy and so underrated okay? I don’t know how many times I was younger and I was brainwashed into thinking that a guy kissing me without my permission was some sort of romantic move. But seeing consent in action throughout the entire experience – and this is the first experience between them, and he’s a paid escort – just sold me on this novel from the beginning.

“I’m not going to have sex with you when you’re like this.” It was wrong. He’d never had sex with a woman who wasn’t one hundred percent into it, and he wasn’t going to start now.

Michael when seeing Stella Freeze when he unbuttoned her top

See, why can’t more men realize this? It was seriously so frustrating to hear Stella talk about the three men that she had sex with previously and how they basically did what they wanted with her and she did not enjoy it. She was used for their enjoyment. Once they finished, they were like “you need to relax” and just never cared. She would freeze up and pretty much dissociate herself during it because it was so traumatic for her. And when Michael sees her changes during their time, he stops, waits until she’s okay, even changes the subject to something she can handle. He eases her into it without forcing her into it.

What I really liked about it also was that even though he gets paid to have sex with people, he never uses that as an excuse to make someone feel uncomfortable, even someone like Stella. It was just really intuitive of him in that aspect and I feel like that gave such a different perspective to the sex industry. I guess people don’t always realize that just because they deal with their bodies, that they are supposed to be somehow not human or whatever.

Subconsciously, he felt like he’d always known. Because he’d grown up with Khai, he knew how to interact with her. He didn’t even have to think about it. That had to be why she could relax with him when she couldn’t with others…

Michael’s realization about Stella

Okay, seriously seeing main and supporting characters respecting someone’s disability and not seeing them as less of a person because of it is seriously so perfect. The one thing that I appreciated throughout this book was how Michael knew how to interact with Stella, and how she was able to learn how to be comfortable with him without it feeling forced. Michael growing up with Khai, who has the same disability as Stella, gave him that advantage, and that taught him to never judge someone for it, nor treat them as different in a negative way. He never held it against Khai, and the same goes for Stella. There needs to be more of this in novels, or at least characters learning about how to interact with others that have a disability or just a different way of interacting with the world.

Yes, I know I said interact like a billion of times, but you know what I mean.

I’m shocked, fam. I haven’t had such a wonderful time reading something in so long that I actually gave it perfect marks. Of course, not every book will be perfect, but I was so happy with this that I couldn’t help but give it my highest compliments.

Also, I really, really loved that this story was inspired by Hoang’s real life story with her and her husband. I feel like personal touches like that just really help me connect with the characters and root for them even more. This one just felt so special to me, and it made me believe in romance again. I was so happy for Stella, and I loved Michael. I loved the love. Wow, what a sap.

20 thoughts on “The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

    1. Oh I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you so much ❤ I know there were some reviews that I saw that didn't understand why it got so much hype, but I feel like this really hit me personally. I'm glad I was able to portray that in my review! I told my mom she has to read this one soon and I hope she does.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m so happy you loved The Kiss Quotient! It was one of my favorite books last year, because – like you said – the romance and the characters felt so well-written and I agree that the book brings up important topics. I especially love the quote you included about Michael stopping because Stella obviously wasn’t into it – consent and desire are more than saying yes, and I love that that was shown here. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Veronika! I’m glad I took a chance to read it, especially since I’m usually not one to intentionally pick up a romance novel. Now I see that my tastes are changing and I’m glad to see that I’m being more open to trying new things 🙂 Thank you! Yes, when I saw it I immediately had to write it down because I was so happy it was included and I was so proud of Michael for doing this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This book is so good!! Great review, I can definitely feel your love for it, and you’ve reminded me how much I loved it!!
    (Also, THANK YOU for linking back to my review!! This is definitely something I need to get better at!! 💕)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YAAS BE A SAP ABOUT IT LEELYNN because this book was 😍🥰😍🥰😍
    The feels. I loved this review. It’s reminded me of why I love this book so much and now I want to go home and reread this yet again. I love this story. I love the rep! I would definitely recommend The Bride Test if you enjoyed this. Hoang has become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors 💛Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHAHAHAHAH But I’m supposed to be hard core like Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls!!! hehehehe Okay fine I’ll be a sap about it. ❤ I loved this so much though, so I guess I can be a sap about it for a little bit.

      Awwww yay! I'm glad when I read reviews and it reminds me of what I love about a book. I'm so glad you felt that way when you read my review ❤ I'm going to definitely read that one – after I get through all my library books sitting on my kitchen table. They have been giving me the evil eye for a month or so now.

      Like

    1. Right?!??! I mean I hate when it’s used as a plot device when if they just talk to one another, these problems can be solved! But for this one, I do kind of get it because Stella isn’t used to telling her emotions like that so she doesn’t want to ruin anything by being vulnerable like that.

      Liked by 1 person

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