Back with the Alphabet Variation Challenge:
Letter “H” for The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient, published in 2018, has been getting a lot of attention in romance reader circles. And, mostly, it lives up to its advance notices.
The story focuses on the relationship between a heroine who is autistic and a very successful econometrician, and a hero who works in his family’s dry cleaning business by day, while, once a week, he sells his services as an escort who’s available for a lot more than escorting. An unusual pair, the hero and heroine switch up the “Pretty Woman” dynamic, as our heroine, Stella Lane, hires, our hero, Michael Phan Larsen to be her practice sex partner, and then “boyfriend”. Stella, who’s been pushed by her parents to be more open to dating and potential marriage, has had a number of unsatisfying and unpleasant encounters with dates, which Stella blames on herself because of her autism. With the help of Michael — who has his own issues, as well as talents as a fashion designer that he’s been putting on hold — Stella hopes to overcome her sexual issues in order to pursue a colleague who her family finds to be an acceptable partner. But, what happens when Stella and Michael come to find each other more appealing than they find their individual goals? Stella needs sexual practice and confidence, but Michael needs money, desperately, to help his mother. Can those issues be overcome?
I found Hoang’s book to be a fresh and interesting romance, especially the gender switch up. The only downside for me was that I found Michael’s constant focus on his father and his father’s influence on his character to be overdone. Michael keeps mentioning his father’s horrific actions without spelling them out until very late in the game. At that point, when Michael reveals his father’s behavior, I was less than horrified and more annoyed that this smart, talented man let his bad egg of a father control him so much. I also thought the ending was a little over the top in terms of the characters’ individual achievements. Only four months after Michael resumes his career, he is going to open three shops?! Really? Oh, and Stella gives up her entire trust fund to help Michael’s mother. Her *entire* trust fund, which certainly wasn’t necessary. I think that I’d give this book a B+ to an A-. Good book, but some things were a little unnecessarily dramatic.
The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 12 down, 6 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B, C, E, F, H …)
Rights & Responsibilities Challenge – 3 down, 15 to go