Title: The Kiss Quotient
(The Kiss Quotient #1)
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Publish Date: June 5, 2018
Sex Work, Sexual Assault, Cancer,
Cheating, Scams, Graphic Sex,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.