Monday, May 6, 2019

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I've seen so many reviews about this novel, and still it took picking it for a book group before I finally read it. This group is one that usually reads historical fiction, or novels that are chock full of symbolism and meaty discussions. Well, I decided we'd read this as an end to our last meeting before our summer break. I'll be honest, I got some grumbles. And I've had a few tell me it wasn't to their liking or taste. So I thought I'd made a horrible mistake. 

I was wrong-I didn't make a mistake, and I relish the upcoming book discussion. I like to remind book club members that book clubs are all about reading books that take them out of their usual reading groove; books that introduce them to another genre, or books that they would never pick up for any other reason. I'm always amazed at the books I've read that turned out to be very memorable, or books that I so enjoyed that I was happy I "had" to read it for a book club. It's too easy to fall into a reading rut, and only read what makes you comfortable, or what you come to expect in every book you read. The Kiss Quotient was decidedly different from my usual reads, and I loved it. 

Yes, it has some pretty steamy sex scenes. Hot hot hot scenes. Yes, some terms are used to describe physical anatomy that aren't what I'm used to reading in what I consider a romance. I'm not one for erotic romances; I find myself skipping over all of that and getting back to the story. I'm not offended, just not interested. However, this novel, while I consider it a romance novel, has some special qualities that make it memorable, and I can see why it's been a hit this past year. 

Stella Lane is one smart woman. She's a thirty-year old at the top of her game, as a econometrician who creates algorithms to study why people buy what they buy. It's fascinating work, and often times she works seven days a week, for hours on end. Stella is also on the autism spectrum, which makes it hard for her to socialize, break out of set routines, and have a healthy romantic relationship. Her mother insists Stella find herself a date for an upcoming gala, so Stella, in her methodical way, decides to hire someone to help her be better at sex, and that will lead to finding a romantic partner who understands and accepts her, quirks and all. 

Enter Michael. A gorgeous young man, frustrated fashion designer, and part-time male escort. He's hired to give Stella a few lessons in the bedroom, but instead, instant attraction hits. And Stella, for all her difficulty in forming relationships, is smitten by this kind man who treats her so carefully. Yes, he's a male escort with a heart of gold. A man who is working this job in order to pay his mother's medical bills, and get the family out of the debt left by his conniving father. Can Stella and Michael find their way to a solid relationship?

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Anyone who knows someone on the autism spectrum will just want to hug Stella. She struggles every day to be "normal", but her charm is that she has her quirks, and it's what makes her so unique and lovable. Michael is a good guy, who just can't resist Stella. But his self-confidence is beaten down, and he needs someone like Stella to make him see he's good enough, and not his father. 

I found the romance between Stella and Michael to be charming, and all of the supporting characters charming, too. The course of true love never runs smoothly, and there are plenty of obstacles in the way for Stella and Michael. I was cheering them on the whole way to the satisfying conclusion. 

Rating: 5/6 for a surprisingly modern, sexy, and solid romance about two people who don't quite fit in, but find their perfect matches in each other. It was refreshing to read about a heroine who is not run-of-the-mill. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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