Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Genre: Romance, Chick Lit
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’ve been hearing a lot about The Kiss Quotient, so I was really excited to finally read it. I have to say, I was underwhelmed.
But, I will start with the things that I liked.
What I Liked:
I liked that the story normalized a successful person on the autism spectrum. The fact that Stella was a strong female character, a woman of color, and a person with an ASD is the type of intersectionality that we need more of in books. I appreciated the fact that autism was normalized and not portrayed as a debilitating disease.
The romance was H O T and so so so steamy! Helen Hoang knows how to build tension in such a good way.
What I didn’t like:
I hated that Stella had such traumatic sexual experiences before she met Michael. The way her encounters were described made we want to absolutely vomit. I wish that had been addressed more and resolved beyond the one liner where Michael called the men assholes (which they were).
I didn’t like the idea that Stella was made to seem like a charity case or that she needed to be fixed. Even when Michael found out she was autistic, he should have told her he knew rather than continue the “lessons”. Regardless of his true feelings for her, he should have told her the truth. I found his actions to be manipulative.
I HATED that Stella emptied her trust fund to help Michael. It furthers the idea that women will do anything for the men they love and it’s no big deal to lose all of your wealth for a man and to expect nothing in return from him. UGH – give me a break.
The way Michael “wins” Stella over is problematic. Can we PLEASE stop making harassment look like it’s romance? One bouquet is fine, but constantly sending things every single day and then SHOWING UP OUTSIDE HER BUILDING IS NOT OKAY.
The entire story line read as Stella’s autism was keeping her from experiencing good sex, when really, it was the douche canoes that she was unfortunate enough to be with. Then, here comes Michael, the first decent human being she’s encountered, and she’s so starved of love and true affection that she falls for him and they live happily ever after. *heavy sigh*
Overall, I am disappointed. I think the book missed a great opportunity to really dive into the nuances of what it is to be autistic, specifically highly functioning. I did enjoy the brief glimpses into how Stella perceived the world, but I think some of that impact was lost among all the sex talk. It needed more depth.
Have you read The Kiss Quotient? Share your thoughts below OR share a romance novel you love!