I was majorly hyped to read this novel before I even got my hands on it, and I’m so glad to say it matched, and even exceeded, my expectations. The Kiss Quotient follows a woman named Stella Lane, a brilliant econometrician whose mother is dying for her to find a man and give her grandchildren. Stella has never had a boyfriend in her thirty years of life, so she decides to hire a male escort to teach her different techniques (ranging from kissing to sex) for her future partner. Stella also has high-functioning autism (or Asperger’s as it used to be called), but hesitates to tell anyone about it, including the hunky escort she chose, Michael. What follows is a steamy, sweet story about finding love and discovering yourself.
I was mainly drawn to The Kiss Quotient at first because of the fact that Stella has autism, and this is an own voices novel. I fell deeply in love with Stella and Michael, though, and couldn’t put this book down because I had to know how things would unfold for them. I related so deeply to Stella, both personality-wise and with her autistic traits. She has trouble being in situations where there’s too much noise, too many people, etc., she doesn’t like certain smells or the feel of the wrong kind of fabric against her skin, she doesn’t like people touching her, and it’s difficult for her to maintain eye contact and keep a conversation going. I myself experience all of these, and reading about a character who shared my traits was amazing.
I also adored the love story between Stella and Michael. Yes, it’s extremely steamy (I was blushing several times during my time with this book), but Michael is also supportive of Stella and her needs, and tries his best to accomodate her. Stella in turn realizes that she can fall for someone, and can enjoy things such as being touched and having sex without feeling (too) uncomfortable and sees that it’s a beautiful act between two people who have feelings for each other.
I utterly adored The Kiss Quotient, and highly recommend it if you love romance novels and/or want to learn a little more about high-functioning autism in women. Hoang has a beautiful, natural flow to her writing, and makes her characters feel alive. I also loved that I could connect with a character that’s like me, and that’s never happened before during my literary life. I really hope there’s a sequel in the works, because I NEED more!