The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Gush Review + Excerpt

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 5, 2018 (out now!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Kiss Quotient #1
My rating:

Synopsis
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 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...


I finished The Kiss Quotient a couple days ago and I'm still swooning over it. I absolutely LOVED it--it's a new all-time favorite and my first five star read this year.

If that doesn't tell you how much I enjoyed this book, I don't know what will.

The writing. If I didn't already know The Kiss Quotient was Helen Hoang's debut novel, I wouldn't have guessed. Her writing style was just so readable and binge-able. I'm so happy that we get both Stella and Michael's perspective, and I thought it was perfect that the book was written in third person. I actually prefer reading books in third person, but here it made sense in terms of the main characters and their story. The pacing was also very well-done--like I said, Ms. Hoang writing style is binge-read-able, but I made myself slow down because I really wanted to savor the story over several days because I wanted to spend more time with Stella and Michael.

The characters. I love Stella and Michael to pieces. They are my precious babies, especially Stella who worked herself into my heart from page one. While I'm not autistic like her character I get her--I get the social awkwardness and the shame of thinking you're less (in this instance because she's autistic) and wanting to hide it. And then there's Michael, the escort with the heart of gold who I fell for along with Stella, who liked Stella as she was, who was so patient with her. Then, we come to learn that Michael might have even more deep-seated issues than Stella.

The secondary characters were fantastic and fully fleshed out as well. I especially enjoyed meeting Michael's large Vietnamese family, especially his mom who was just a hoot. The family dinners were some of my favorite scenes in the book and when they talked about Vietnamese food my foodie heart soared.

The plot and worldbuilding. I know falling for an escort romance trope is really popular right now, and I've read a few that follows this trope, but none captured me like The Kiss Quotient did. I love how the author took the trope and put her unique spin to it. I absolutely adored the ownvoices Vietnamese-American rep as well as the autism rep.

The Kiss Quotient was set in the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly in Palo Alto. I've only visited San Francisco a couple of years ago, so I can't comment on if the setting truly captures the actual place. But, in general, I've no complaints about the setting.

Final Thoughts. I love EVERYTHING about this book. I can't wait to read more by Ms. Hoang--definitely a welcome new talent in the world of romance. The ending was a satisfying conclusion to Stella and Michael's story, but I wasn't read to say goodbye to them. I already miss my babies, BUT we might see them in Ms. Hoang's next book called The Bride Test because it's a connected standalone to The Kiss Quotient. **Cross fingers** we'll see a glimpse of Stella and Michael in it.

Recommendation. If you're a fan of romance, The Kiss Quotient is a must-read. Everyone in the romance community needs to pick this book up--if you don't you're going to miss out on one of the best books this year.



“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.

Book Trailer


About the Author
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.

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