Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient…

About the Book:

A heart-warming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks mathematics is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases, a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with and far less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice – with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. Gorgeous and conflicted, Michael can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan, from foreplay to more-than-missionary position.

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses but to crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic . . .

My Thoughts:

‘I like you better than calculus…’

After reading The Bride Test recently, and absolutely loving it, a friend offered to lend me her copy of The Kiss Quotient. I jumped at the offer…and read it immediately. It was exactly what I felt like reading mid-week after a few busy days at work. The Kiss Quotient is a romance of sorts, a rom-com, and it contains a heavy amount of steamy sex scenes, probably even more so than The Bride Test, but it definitely has a lot more to it than just sex and laughs.

When it comes to economics and mathematics, Stella Lane is brilliant. Social skills, less so, but she is not unaware of this, and in a bid to improve her chances of success with dating and relationships, she hires an escort. A very attractive escort that reminds her of her favourite Korean TV star. The job she has for him? Teach her how to date, kiss, have sex, and be in a relationship. Despite his rules about seeing a client more than once, Michael has pressing financial concerns, so he agrees. And then the fun begins.

‘She needed to think at all times, to weigh her actions and her words. When she let go, she always made mistakes. She did the wrong thing, hurt people, mortified herself.’

I loved both Stella and Michael, who were particularly well suited to each other. Miscommunication abounds as their involvement with each other becomes more entangled, but true love is in the air, and their relationship gradually becomes more than a physical experiment. This is unconventional romance, and it might not sit well with everyone, particularly the high sex content, but I really enjoyed it. Through these two novels, The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, Helen Hoang is making great inroads at deconstructing labels and chipping away at preconceived notions about Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is redefining the base line for romance, and I am very much in favour of it.

‘All was silence but for their hearts trying to synchronize their crashing.’


About the Author:

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired The Kiss Quotient. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

The Kiss Quotient

Published by Allen & Unwin

B Format Edition Released June 2019

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

  1. I’m a bit conflicted about books like this. (I’m thinking of the Rosie books too). On the one hand, I like the presentation of a character on the spectrum as someone who can transcend the label and have a good life. On the other hand, I think that maybe making it look as if anyone with determination and a bit of luck can overcome the hurdles, is maybe not fair, perhaps even a bit dishonest. I have taught a lot of kids on the spectrum, and our school was a school of choice for many parents because all our teachers were well trained and knew how to get the best for these kids so they could reach their potential. I would say that many of them would go on to succeed in life on their own terms, but there were a couple of others for whom the inability to relate to other people seemed insurmountable.

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    • I do agree with you. The author herself is on the spectrum, so my impression is that the character is somewhat based on her own difficulties. Knowing this certainly weighed in with my reading of it. There’s a lot of empathy within these two novels by Helen Hoang and the partners each character ends up with are, for many and varied reasons, more empathetic towards a person on the spectrum than others might be. That didn’t escape my notice, and for this, she deftly avoids the trap of making it look like you can overcome being on the spectrum and have a normal relationship if you ‘just try hard enough’. I think that’s why I like them so much.

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      • I see…
        … what bothered me about the Rosie books is that the burden of empathy rests with the other person. They have to do all the emotional work. We used to see this at school, lovely kids coming towards an understanding that the kid who just belted them *again* didn’t understand how much they’d hurt them, and what’s more they were still expected to invite the kid to their birthday parties. The onus was always on them to be understanding and forgiving and kind, while the kid on the spectrum had enough of a struggle just to learn to manage his own behaviour. (With the teachers in the background trying (short term) to prevent anyone else getting bashed and (long term) teach different patterns of behaviour for when the kid was frustrated!)
        Well, over the years of an ongoing relationship, that empathy burden can be a bit hard to endure, and The Rosie Project ended before that point was reached. ( I know there were sequels, I didn’t read them).

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      • I have only read the first Rosie book. I didn’t mind it but not enough to keep on reading. I actually really do agree with you here and in essence books like this are a highly idealised version of what life might/could be like. In some ways, it’s a fairytale. I still enjoyed them though!


      • Indeed, and fairy tales are great because they usually involve a fundamental truth. In this one, it sounds as if everyone has a human need to be loved, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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  2. Hi Theresa, I haven’t as yet read The Rosie books or the ones by Helen Hoang, but I do appreciate that we are starting to see stories that show a more positive spin on being on the spectrum. I think it’s a tricky line to walk between “overcoming obstacles” and achieving success “on their own terms”, as Lisa put it so nicely. With a child with ASD, the word “normal” is banished from our house. We all encounter obstacles to overcome, and certainly those on the spectrum experience more than their fair share, although I think that has more to do with the way our world is structured. It is good to see writers identified as ASD (I am increasingly disliking that word “diagnosed”) using their voice to question how we define success and show that relationships can be as diverse as the human race. I really appreciate the way you bring a diverse range of books and authors to our attention. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel admiration for authors who write about being on the spectrum because it’s such a tricky topic to navigate. So many people experience things in so many different ways. Exactly like Lisa said. I think it’s great that Helen is writing these books, but she’s never going to cover everyone’s experiences. I think that by disclosing her own journey, which she does in the author note, she’s at least acknowledging that this is her journey, that she’s choosing to share through the medium of fiction, and that it’s one set of experiences, not a global set – if you know what I mean. My biggest love for these books is the empathy and understanding she conveys through other supporting characters. I feel readers can take a lot away from that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This one is high on my TBR right now. Diversity + laughs + sexy time = my ideal read. And looking forward to it *even more* now that I know how much you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Sometimes Leelynn Reads

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