The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang tells the story of Stella, an autistic econometrician, who decides it’s time for her to learn everything about sex. To help her, she hires Michael, a professional escort.
Stella Lane thinks she’s bad at interacting with people and even worse at sex, based on her earlier, not-so-amazing experiences with men. After some “advice” from a colleague, she decides to hire Michael Phan to teach her. Michael accepts because he’s desperate for money and feels like he’s her best shot at finding someone decent to practice with.
Stella makes a lesson plan for them to follow but then realizes she needs something else: a practice relationship. They make an agreement — strictly business, no strings attached — but soon it becomes clear there might just be more in the air…
I have such mixed feelings about this book.
The beginning was fun and interesting but the further I got, the less I cared. This kind of romance simply isn’t the right type for me. I don’t have the patience for the whole “oh woe is me, this silly thing is the only obstacle between me and the person I love so we could never ever be together!”
It was fun for a while but then it got exhausting. The reasons the characters had weren’t even that good and at one point it felt like the story forgot what had just happened.
I listened to the audiobook so at first I thought my mind just slipped, because I could’ve sworn the characters explicitly told each other they wanted to be together for real. Then pretty much in the next scene they were back to the “oh no they could possibly never actually like me!” state of mind. So I figured I must’ve heard wrong. Then, some time later, the characters thought back to that moment I thought I’d made up.
All interest and good will I had for the characters disappeared after that.
I’ve never read a fiction book with an autistic protagonist so I enjoyed that fresh perspective. I can’t say anything about whether the portrayal was authentic or not, but at times I couldn’t help feeling the autism kind of… disappeared when needed.
Stella was all about logic and math and algorithms, and definitely not a people-person. Until Michael, of course.
And Michael was someone I wasn’t very into at any point. Sure, he had his moments and it was nice to follow his interactions with his family, but that’s it.
Spoiler alert: The final nail to Michael’s coffin in my eyes came at the very end: you cannot break up with a woman and then lose your temper when you see her with another man. You don’t get to act like she’s your property. (And yes, while he did end up protecting her, he had those feelings BEFORE the scene escalated.)
The Kiss Quotient is a romance book with a strong “will they, won’t they” narrative. I appreciated the autism-part of the story because it was something new to me and I’d like to think it taught me something, despite all the problems I had with the story.
If you have more patience for this kind of romance, go for it! The story does have some genuine sweet moments mixed with steamy bits and relationship drama, overall it just wasn’t for me.
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