Debut author Helen Hoang knocks it out of the park with The Kiss Quotient, which follows a romance between an analytical heroine and the gorgeous escort who teaches her all about the benefits of falling in love.
Stella Lane is in love with data and numbers. As an econometrician, she’s most comfortable when poring over statistics and finding anomalies or trends. Stella also has Asperger’s, a fact of which her mother, between her unceasing requests for grandchildren, constantly reminds her. But romance and a relationship hold very little appeal to Stella, especially after some lackluster experiences. And since Stella never does anything halfway, she’ll only accept the best “tutor” she can find.
Enter Michael Phan, an escort whose looks could easily grace any fashion magazine. Though he really needs the money, he’s also charmed by Stella’s checklist of things to tackle. Any romance reader knows where this is going, and things between Stella and Michael start to stray from strictly business.
This book is a unicorn. It’s magical and one of a kind. Stella’s Asperger’s isn’t talked about in veiled or coded language. It’s very much part of who she is, and she’s learned to live her life in a way that suits her and makes her (mostly) happy. Though uncomfortable when it comes to the realm of social interactions, Stella is self-assured about her work ethic. She really loves her job and finds comfort in the work she does.
Michael is a great foil for Stella’s awkward moments. He’s smooth and effortless in how he handles her nervousness, inexperience and everything in between. Michael fully embodies the romance hero ideal, and he’s set the bar high for all other heroes to come.
While the notion of getting better at sex and dating may seem like a thin plot device, the interactions between Stella and Michael is so much more than that. The love scenes explore human connection, belonging and the expectations we and others put on ourselves. They are both adorable and sexy, all at the same time.
Hoang has a fresh, contemporary voice that’s easy to fall into for hours at a time, and The Kiss Quotient will undoubtedly create a fandom of readers who will read whatever future books she writes. But be warned, this reading experience is one that requires preparation. You will smile so hard your cheeks will ache. You’ll subconsciously start to fan yourself. You’ll look at the clock and realize it’s way past your bedtime.
The Kiss Quotient is the perfect balm for any reading slump and a wonderful palate cleanser for the summer. It also might just be the best book you read all year.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Go Behind the Book with Helen Hoang.