Release Date: June 5, 2018
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…
“You’ve watched Pretty Woman too many times. Kissing doesn’t mean anything, and it’s always best if you’re not thinking too much in bed. Trust me,” he said.
Her mouth thinned into a stubborn line. “This is too important for me not to think. I’d rather not kiss anymore if you don’t mind.”
Michael’s irritation redoubled, and he forced his hands to relax before he popped all his blood vessels. How the hell had he gotten himself into this? Ah yes, he’d been worried about his escort colleagues taking advantage of her. Stupid of him. His life was complicated enough without worrying about his clients. This was exactly why he had the one-session policy.
He would have backed out—it was tempting—but he’d promised. He always carried through on his promises. It was his way of balancing out the universe. His dad had broken enough promises for the both of them.
“All right,” he made himself say. “No kissing.”
“Do the other plans look okay?” she asked.
He forced himself to read them and found them pretty similar, only she’d moved from hand jobs to blowjobs and changed the sexual positions.
Amused despite himself, he said, “I’m surprised you used the terms ‘doggy style’ and ‘cow girl.’”
Her cheeks went bright red, and she adjusted her glasses. “I’m inexperienced, not clueless.”
“Your plans are missing something important.” He held his hand out, and she placed the pen in his palm with wary motions.
She tilted her head to the side as she watched him write FOREPLAY at the top of all the plans in capital letters. As an afterthought, he drew a box in front of each iteration with hard stabs of the pen.
“But why? I was under the impression men don’t need it.”
“You do,” he said flatly.
She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “You don’t have to bother with me.”
He narrowed his eyes. “It’s not a bother. Most men like foreplay. I do. Getting a woman hot is satisfying as hell.” Besides, he was not having sex with her if she wasn’t ready. No fucking way.
Swallowing, she stared down at the menu. “So you’re saying I don’t have a chance to improve.”
“What? No.” His mind scrambled to figure out why she might say that and came up with nothing.
“You saw how I reacted. It was one button.”
“And then you slept with me all night. You were basically naked, and you cling.”
“Are you two ready to order?” the waitress interjected. Judging by the amused glimmer in her eyes, she’d caught the last part of their conversation.
Stella perused the dinner options, her nails picking at the fabric edging of the menu.
“We’ll have the special,” Michael said.
“Wise choice. I’ll leave you to it.” The waitress winked, gathered the menus, and disappeared.
“What’s the special?” Stella asked.
“I have no idea. Let’s hope it’s not woolly.”
A troubled frown bracketed her mouth, and she leaned forward hesitantly, meeting his eyes for the briefest second. “What exactly do you mean by ‘cling?’”
Michael grinned. “It means you like to cuddle when you’re asleep.”
She looked so horrified Michael couldn’t help laughing. “I confess to liking it.” Which was the truth, and unlike him. Cuddling was an obligatory thing he did for his clients because he understood they needed it. He usually spent the time counting the seconds until he could leave and go home to shower. Holding Stella had been nothing like that. They hadn’t had sex, so there’d been nothing to wash away, and the trusting way she’d curled into him had made him feel things he didn’t want to think about.
I absolutely loved this sparkling debut novel by Helen Hoang! I am not often surprised by a book but ‘The Kiss Quotient’ was a total delight. Sexy, warm-hearted and totally refreshing, this story has become one of my favorite reads this year!
Stella is brilliant but has Asperger’s Syndrome and so is unable to read and interpret common social cues. As a result, she is lonely and seeks an instructor to teach her how to act in social situations. In total control of her professional life, she has no clue how to act with members of the opposite sex or even how to act around friends.
”While she was ahead on all her deadlines, need was still the right word for it. Work fascinated her, channeled the furious craving in her brain. It was also therapeutic.
Inside her office, she initiated her most beloved routine. First, she powered on her computer and entered her password into the prompt screen. As all the software booted up, she plopped her purse in her desk drawer and went to fill her cup with water from the kitchen. Her shoes came off, and she placed them in their regular spot under her desk. She sat. Power, password, purse, water, shoes, sit. Always this order.”
Michael works as an escort but his passion is in clothing design. He is handsome and smart but his family has fallen on hard times and he has taken it upon himself to make everything right again.
”As Michael padded through his cheap apartment toward the bathroom and shed his clothes, he tried to revive his old enthusiasm for this job. The taboo nature of it had been enough in the beginning, but after three years of escorting, that was pretty much old hat. The revenge aspect still satisfied him, though. ‘Look at your only son now, Dad.’”
Michael cannot believe a woman like Stella needs the services of a professional escort. He sees a beautiful, sexy and smart young woman who is very different from his usual clients.
”He stared at her open expression and proffered hand for a stunned fraction of a second. This wasn’t how clients greeted him. They usually waved him into a seat with a sly curl of their lips and a sparkle in their eyes—that sparkle that said they thought they were better than him but were looking forward to what he could offer anyway. She greeted him like he was … an equal.”
I was enthralled by this book from beginning to end. The story touches on family, unconditional love, individuality and acceptance and I could not put it down! The writing was sparkling and entertaining and intelligent. Stella and Michael came alive on the pages!
Once Stella hires Michael to teach her the ways of the world, so to speak, he begins to realize that she is a bit different from most people. But as they get to know each other, Stella literally blossoms and she also encourages Michael to follow his true path in life.
A grin tugged at his lips again. “Are you a scientist, Stella?” “Oh, no. I’m an economist. More precisely, I’m an econometrician.” In Michael’s book, that put her solidly in the brainiac category, and an odd feeling ghosted up the back of his neck. Damned if he didn’t have a thing for smart girls. There was a reason why his favorite fantasy was Hot for Teacher.
This book is funny and poignant and romantic and filled with life. I absolutely adored the unique storyline and the quirky supporting characters. The author is a talent to watch, that’s for sure. I cannot wait for more!
”Saying nothing, she let the moment wash over her, the uncertainty, the breathless hope, the anxiousness, and the shimmering contentment. The sight of their intertwined hands pleased her.
So different, but still five fingers and five knuckles, the same general blueprint. She tightened her grip, and he squeezed her back. Palm to palm, two lonely halves found comfort in together.”