A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang- Feature and Review


A heartwarming 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 math 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 way 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. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner 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 the other things he's making her feel. Soon, 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...



The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a 2018 Berkley publication.

A real charmer!

Stella, an Econometrician, has intimacy issues, perhaps a symptom of her Asperger’s. With her mother growing impatient for grandchildren, and after absorbing an ugly comment, which took aim at Stella’s lack of sexual experience, she decides to hire a male escort to ‘teach’ her everything she needs to know about dating and sex.

Michael Phan has never had a client like Stella. She touches a part of him, he keeps barricaded, especially with clients. Her effect on him is so powerful, he agrees to give her lessons on sex and dating, against his better judgment, and breaking every single personal rule of his profession.

However, their business arrangement soon develops into something neither of them could have anticipated. Before long, Stella begins to figure in a new type of equation- love!

Okay, I’ve seen the huge marketing push for the book, and I’ve had many friends on social media and book sites fawning it. From experience I know when a book gets this level of hype it is very important to approach it with a modicum of caution. Even though I was chomping at the bit to start this one, pushing everything else to the wayside if need be, I cooled my engines and let some of the furor die down before I finally allowed myself to read it.

So, did it live up to all that publicity?

I adored this story. It’s unique, featuring a female character who struggles to find her niche in a world that embraces conformity and uniformity. I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome, but I am an extreme introvert, so I could relate to some of the struggles Stella fought to overcome. I immediately warmed to her character and hoped she would find the confidence she had buried inside of her all along.

While I didn’t know how to feel about Michael’s unorthodox occupation, I did LOVE this guy’s gentle patience. It was fun watching Stella crawl under his skin, seeing how he understood her, quirks and all, and how they managed to create a relationship with each other, as Michael slowly draws Stella out. Michael turned out to be a terrific hero, and I might have developed a secret and deliciously sinful crush on him.

That said, the book was still a wee bit over-hyped. While I understand why some felt this one was special and deserved a lot of attention, the format, at its core, is not much different from any other contemporary romance. The writing or prose didn't set it apart from any other books out there, although it is obvious the author knew her subject matter intimately.

What does set it apart is the diversity, and the boldness of placing a character with Asperger’s as a lead in a romantic comedy. The delicate balance of approaching the syndrome with respect and the gravity it deserves, while adding in humor and poignancy, is very well done. From that perspective the story is very original, unique, and refreshing!

Everything you love about romance is here: It's hot and steamy, funny, charming, emotional, and inspiring, with a lovely feel good ending.

However, this one gives voice to those rarely featured in these types of stories. I love that about this book!! I for one, applaud this new angle and approach to contemporary romance, and hope to see more books step away from the standard 'Plain Jane' tropes and branch out into new, mostly unexplored territory, in the romance genre. Books like this one could help the genre shake off a few of its hardwired stigmas and reach a much broader audience.





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.

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