The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Genre: Adult contemporary
Content warnings: Sexual harassment
Representation: SE Asian, mixed race, autism
Format read: audiobook
Rating: planchet-4

I have been wanting to read this book since before it came out. I finally got to sit down with it on my flight to Portland, and inhaled in about  hours. It was so good. 

This book follows Stella, an adult with low support autism (aka Asperger’s). She’s an economist with a great job. She’s not bad looking. But she has some odd habits and difficulty connecting with people that make it nearly impossible for her to get a date. And second dates are unheard of.

This is unfortunate because she would like to one day get married, and maybe even have children. But how can one do that what dates always end abruptly, and there’s never a follow up?

Taking the advice of a college, Stella decides that the only way she’s going to change anything is if she gets better at sex. That seems to be the sticking point with all of her experiences so far. Once they get to the bedroom, things rapidly go downhill.

But how does one improve at such a thing? Clearly, expert advice is in order.

Enter Michael. Half Vietnamese, he’s stunning, funny, a great cook–and he’s for rent.

Michael is a gigolo, driven by the economic hardship threatening his family–and his mother’s cancer treatments. Stella finds his profile online and quickly compiles a series of lesson plans she hopes he’ll help her with–everything from blow jobs to different positions.

But it quickly becomes clear that Stella’s meticulous plans aren’t suited for the job at hand. When things start to go faster than she hoped at their first meeting, she panics, completely locking up.

Eventually, Stella is able to alter her game plan, and hires Michael to be her “practice” boyfriend, to help her learn how to better connect with people, to relax in intimate situations, and maybe–possibly–even learn to enjoy sex. Or at least not suck at it.

The money is way too good for Michael to turn down, even though he feels guilty about the whole thing. The more he listens to Stella talk, the more he realizes that she’s not the problem–it’s the assholes she keeps dating. Reluctantly, he agrees. But only because of his mom. No, really. And maybe because he likes Stella and doesn’t want to see her hurt. But mostly it’s his mom.

This is a funny, sweet story that is not short on sexy romance. Usually romance/love scenes leave me completely cold in books (sorry, aro/ace over here), but I loved the relationship between Michael and Stella. They were good friends.They learned to adapt to each other.

I loved the autism rep in this book sooooo much. For me, Stella is highly relatable in the way she interacts with people. I really need to get my hands on the companion book, The Bride Test, now.

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