Stella Lane is great at math, but her autism makes her not-so-great with people. Kissing reminds her of a shark getting his mouth cleaned by a pilot fish, and making love is all about letting a man take pleasure in her body, without expecting the experience to be even remotely as pleasant to her.
Studious as she is, Stella concludes that if she practiced with a professional, she would eventually be able to enjoy sex more—or at least not freeze while someone is making love to her.
What she doesn’t count on is falling for her instructor—an absolute eye-candy of an escort named Michael Phan.
As a reader:
The Kiss Quotient is supposed to be the re-telling of Pretty Woman, with reversed roles—a woman hiring an escort. However, it is still a story of the man rescuing the woman, as much as Pretty Woman was. Actually, I even feel Vivian Ward was a much stronger character than Stella Lane.
That said, The Kiss Quotient is definitely a thoroughly enjoyable read; witty, smart, funny and sexy as hell.
The book is simply unputdownable! I absolutely loved and felt invested in both these characters since the get-go, and rooted for them. I also thoroughly enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the ‘training.’
As a writer:
Most romances start sometime after the inciting incident, and that means well after the first 25% of the novel. The Kiss Quotient takes off in the first couple of pages. As surprised as I was because of it, I loved that I didn’t have to wait long for things to develop.
That made me wonder how would Helen Hoang maintain the suspense for the rest of the novel. I must say she managed to do it, and in a very simple way which is very appropriate to the novel’s genre.
The only suspense (as it often happens in life too) stems out of unspoken thoughts and feelings; both Stella and Michael have fallen in love with each other, but neither of them believes their feelings are reciprocated. The author keeps us believing that both of them are too afraid to question whether the other one would be willing to take things further from their escort-client relationship.
And what I ABSOLUTELY LOVED about this novel was the unapologetic way Helen Hoang writes about sex. My amazement was even greater when I read that the author herself has recently been diagnosed with autism.
I recommend reading this book if you’re a writer struggling with:
- building suspense in ‘timid’ genres such as romance and women’s fiction
- great pacing
- fulfilling the expectation of the genre one’s writes in
- use of humor