Even though I say I will read pretty much any genre of book, romance is one I never reach for. I’ve never been a huge lover of romcoms, purely because I find them too predictable and there is never enough action in them for me – although I must confess, I do have a soft spot for Sleepless In Seattle. In the states, there is a subscription service called Book of The Month that I follow on Instagram and each month, I’m insanely jealous that it isn’t available in the UK. They select four new books per month, and I always love the diversity of their choices. Most of the time, I end up ordering some of the selections via Amazon or Waterstones anyway, but I do hope they expand overseas soon. One of the choices for June was The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, and I throw my hands up and admit, as soon as I saw ‘romance’, I didn’t pay it any further attention. But do you know the feeling when a book just seems to be EVERYWHERE and you feel a little left out? This is how it made me feel. It felt like the most read book on #bookstagram and was receiving nothing but glowing reviews. So I decided to do some digging, took advantage of an offer on Amazon Prime day and whizzed through it in just two sittings.
We meet Stella Lane. She analyses data for a living, preferring numbers over people and has Asperger’s syndrome – making socialising and meeting people a challenge. Her parents openly talk about their concerns over Stella’s lack of dating life and their desire for her to meet someone. Stella isn’t confident and especially when it comes to one department – sex. She has had a couple of sexual encounters before but doesn’t feel like she is experienced enough. She decides to hire a male escort, Michael, to provide her with lessons on intimacy to help her feel more accomplished in bed. Michael is a young, extremely attractive man with mounting debts and family secrets. We follow them on their journey of navigating their ‘contract’ as Stella likes to put it and getting to know one another on a much deeper level.
As I’ve outlined in my introduction, romance novels aren’t my kind of thing, but this was a refreshing read since all I’ve read lately have been thrillers. It was nice to read something more playful, fun and cute. Stella is an amazing protagonist, and I loved reading her POV. She was endearing, extremely likeable and I was constantly rooting for her. It was interesting to learn some of the traits people on the autistic spectrum can experience from loud noises, certain smells and clothing preferences. Not having to take things like that into consideration never struck me before and I feel the author gave an incredible insight into the types of things those with Aspbergers have to. Michael’s character was just as charming. He was sweet, intriguing and just like Stella, wanted him to beat all the challenges that stood in his way.
I’ve seen this book described as incredibly steamy – granted, of course, there are more than a fair share of sexual content based on the plot but it wasn’t anything over the top or some kind of 50 shades of grey level. It was tackled, in my opinion, tastefully and wasn’t crude whatsoever. It struck up the right balance of sex and romance.
There are two things I loved about this book – no sex work shaming and consent. Michael is never shamed for being a sex worker. There are a couple of points in the book where he dwells on his occupation, feeling like he has amounted to nothing but, there is never any negativity from other characters within the book which is refreshing and something I’m glad to see not happen in a book given the times we live in. The second is the biggest one, and it’s around consent. Stella speaks candidly about never feeling comfortable when having sex before and Michael at all points, makes sure she is before proceeding with anything. Given it is a hot topic at the moment, it was nice to see it captured and reiterated to the readers that you shouldn’t feel obliged to do something to make someone else feel comfortable.
Like most romance books, it was predictable, but it was an enjoyable read with two great main characters that I will miss. There is a real buzz about this book, and it’s easy to see why – it’s engrossing, addictive and sweet – but not to the point it’s over the top and sickly. If you’re looking for a romance novel to read or don’t dive into this genre much, I’d recommend it. Hoang is an amazing writer and she has another novel due for release next year that I have already added to my good reads TBR. Overall, a 4.5 star read for me.