The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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When Stella’s mother and her coworker separately tell her it was time to start dating and practicing being with a man, she takes the task seriously. The reality of her life with Asperger’s has meant that she is particular, obsessive, and has been completely unable to enjoy sex and dating up to this point. So she decides to take matters into her own hands by hiring an escort named Michael to teach her how.

There are many things I liked about this romantic, sweet book. Stella, our main character, was an absolute joy to read about. The author took the task of writing an authentic, accurate character with Asperger’s very seriously and I applaud her gumption and sensitivity. I loved Stella and thought her approach to life was something we could all take a note on. Not only is this character utterly in tune with her own needs and boundaries, but she is also adventurous, happy to learn about and accept others, and she’s able to step back and apologize when she’s made a mistake. By far the best part of this book is Stella’s growth and the impact she has on others throughout the story.

I also enjoyed the domestic aspects of The Kiss Quotient. Michael’s family was charming and read as a very real portrayal of a large family. Their dinner table banter, arguments, and expectations struck an authentic chord and added so much enjoyment to this book. I was rooting for Janie, and I wanted to read more about Quan! It should also be noted that this book is extremely sexy and if a reader is not willing to read a sex scene every ten pages, this will absolutely not be the book for them.

However, as much as I liked the Larson family and Stella, there were also quite a few things I did not enjoy about this book. Our male main character, Michael, was fun to read about at times, but I found him to be a pretty idealistic, flat character overall. His backstory is always lurking around the corner, ready to come beat the reader over the head whenever the opportunity presents itself. While I think the situation with his father and the lasting effect it has on the character is completely plausible, I didn’t find Michael’s headspace and reaction to it realistic. At times I had to roll my eyes because he and Stella were a bit too unaware of the other’s feelings to be passable.

I also thought the villain in this story was flat as a pancake and as unrealistic as could be. Phillip, Stella’s coworker and an all around shit person, is given countless second chances for no discernible reason. He is awful, says terrible things to Stella, makes her feel terrible for being herself, and forces himself on her MORE THAN ONCE. Yet, Stella goes on a date with him, her parents think he would be an ideal husband, and her father thinks he’s great? What?? That is utterly ridiculous and I will not stand for a poorly-written foil.

Overall? I love the main character, Stella, and I think the book is conceptually extremely strong and original. However, the badly behaved men bring this book down significantly in my eyes.

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PUBLICATION DETAILS: Berkley; June 5, 2018; 336 pp; 978-0451490803; Fiction -> Romance