The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang kept popping up in my bookstagram and Facebook book club feeds, and when it appeared as a Bookbub special, I downloaded it immediately. I’m so glad I did.
I read this book in only two sittings, and then only because I didn’t realize the last “30 minutes” of reading was the book club discussion material. Otherwise, I would have finished it in one day.
Here is my hot take on this book: It’s a flipped Pretty Woman scenario with the added dose of a Doc Martin scenario mixed together with perfect, heart-wrenching flair.
Our heroine, Stella Lane, has Asperger’s, and when her mother asks for grandchildren, Stella knows she’s going to need help in the relationship department due to the challenges Asperger’s poses in forming relationships.
I get this. I’m not entirely convinced I’m not on the spectrum, and I highly encourage you to read the author’s note at the end of the book. The author relates her research and how women are often considered the invisible part of the spectrum because we’re so good at covering things up and making everything seem fine.
I immediately connected with the main character, but because of this further note on her research, I got Stella to an even greater depth.
Our hero, Michael, is a fashion designer who gave up everything to take care of his sick mother. It’s impossible not to fall under his spell of selflessness.
Stella hires Michael the escort to help her with her relationship insecurities.
When I read this premise, I thought there’s no way I’m going to enjoy this book. I love Pretty Woman, but when I think of the story from a practical standpoint, I know prostitution is not glamorous.
But neither is Asperger’s.
Stella’s desperation is palpable. There’s a scene right at the beginning where Stella sits down on the hotel room floor and hugs herself to keep the loneliness at bay. You can feel what she’s feeling in that scene. How her label keeps her separated from others. It keeps her alone. That’s the scene that clenched it for me.
Stella fights to overcome the restrictions her diagnosis has placed on her. But only to an extent. This is what I love about this character. She’s not looking to “fix” herself. She’s looking to make her life better.
Michael is the perfect counterpoint to this fight. He has a family member with autism, so he recognizes it in Stella, as she refuses to tell him about her label. She doesn’t want her Asperger’s to change how people interact with her. This is such a beautiful and courageous thing. She just wants to be accepted as everyone else, and she doesn’t want people “accommodating” her challenges.
She just wants to be like everyone else except for the things where she wants to be herself. It’s a beautiful balance that doesn’t exaggerate a character for the sake of the story.
I don’t read books about dogs for obvious reasons, so I like to tell readers about potential trigger issues they may encounter in a book.
In The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, you will find…
Difficulty with sexual encounters: I’m not sure how to word this but I know some readers may be uncomfortable with how Stella’s other sexual partners treat her and/or the fact that she hires an escort.
Treatment of differently abled people: This comes up a lot as Stella has Asperger’s, and I think it’s handled beautifully. However, my husband is a Type 1 diabetic, and I get freaking pissed every time someone asks him why he has a pager. Come on, people, It’s the 21st century. Let’s get our heads out of our own butts. So if you’re particularly sensitive to any of these topics, this may not be your book.
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I devoured this book. It was a fresh take on an old classic, the subject of Asperger’s was so delicately and beautifully handled, and the characters were so normal as to feel as though you could slip between them unnoticed. I definitely recommend you pick up The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.