Trigger warning: descriptions of sexual assault
I found "The Kiss Quotient" not quite perfect. Mostly it's because I started to get annoyed by the two main characters (Stella and Michael) who were both too afraid to tell each other their feelings though it was plain as day to everyone else. I also hard cringed at the fact that Stella didn't get that was sexually assaulted by the so-called men that came before Michael. She has Asperger's, it doesn't mean that she wouldn't understand that. It really rubbed me the wrong way. The chemistry between Michael and Stella was great. I loved the development of their characters and secondary characters in the book. The romance/sex scenes were red hot. I think it's been a while that I actually read a contemporary romance book that didn't fade to black so to speak when the two leads finally have sex. The author usually skips to the morning after.
"The Kiss Quotient" has Stella Lane deciding to hire an escort that will teach her all about kissing and sex. After a very nasty comment by her coworker about needing to learn to like sex, Stella decides that is what she will do. She hires Michael Phan and she ends up talking him into giving her lessons about kissing and sex. Initially Michael says no since he has a only see a client one time rule. However, something about Stella gets to him, and before long they are having lessons and then agreeing to fake date so Stella can learn how to be a real girlfriend.
This book is marketed as a gender bending "Pretty Woman" and I can see why. We hear about how hot Michael is (he's Vietnamese and Swedish). His looks though are a source of pain. Many women who have known him, have only wanted to have sex with him and didn't care about his dreams at all. With Stella, he has someone who is much wealthier than him who likes to be around him. Stella on her part cannot understand why Michael likes her, but she likes everything about him from his looks, his smell, and the way he kisses her.
I also really like that Michael told Stella point blank that no one has the right to force her to have sex if she doesn't want it or to kiss her against her will (which happened in this book, ugh). I also have to say though that it annoyed me that Stella didn't get that. Her parents were fairly absent in this book and I wonder why neither of them had that conversation with her. Since she has Asperger's and apparently takes things quite literal at times, you are telling me they didn't think they needed to have that conversation?
The secondary characters, which focuses mostly on Michael's family were great. I loved Michael's plethora of sisters and his cousin. His grandmother and mother were awesome too.
The writing worked for me. I think that Hoang did a good job with taking the narrative back and forth from Stella to Michael throughout the book. The flow was good too. I do think the ending could have been tightened up a bit.
The ending was sweet though I wish we had gotten at least one more scene with Stella and her parents with some sort of understanding between the three of them. Stella's mother definitely got that Michael was something more than what she had experienced before. Her father not so much.