Published by Penguin on June 5th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Buy on Amazon
Well, this book. I’m not even sure where to start. I guess I’ll begin with an overview.
The Kiss Quotient is a seriously sexy, fun book that has rekindled my interest in the romance genre. When it hits the spot, I LOVE a good romance, but I rarely find one that goes beyond cliches and instalove so I usually end up bored. Not with this one. Not one bit.
It’s the perfect blend of sweet and steamy. And let me be clear: this is not YA. There’s a lot of graphic sex scenes, though I should also say that the author builds up to it really well; she knows how to tease us. It was just so nice to read a book where sex is actually sexy and not political, cold, a form of manipulation, or not sex at all because consent went out the window.
This is an ownvoices book about Stella, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Convinced she needs lessons on how to be good at sex and relationships, she hires Michael, an escort, to teach her. Michael is mixed race – Vietnamese and Swedish – and described as a hotter version of k-drama star Daniel Henney. In a gender-reversed Pretty Woman scenario, the two inevitably end up developing feelings for one another.
Stella’s autism makes it difficult for her to know how to behave around other people, and she also struggles with being touched. Through this, the author explores the importance of consent – Michael is deeply respectful of her boundaries and always waits for her to be 100% ready. Perhaps it sounds less sexy than the spontaneous grab-and-go on the office desk sex but it actually isn’t. It’s kinda wonderful.
Okay, and here’s the weird thing. I don’t know how to talk about this or if I really should, but I think it is worth mentioning. We talk about the importance of diverse books all the time and the way voices by POC, LGBT+, and those with disabilities are absolutely essential. They foster understanding and help a lot of people realize they are not alone. Well, I got a lesson in just how important books like this can be.
As I was reading about Stella, I started to make some comparisons. I was so affected by it that I made a list. This list:
• Extreme social anxiety
• Loss of focus; frequent “zoning out”
• Fanatic obsession with a small number of interests
• Difficulty reading verbal cues and understanding sarcasm
• No interest in playing with others as a young child
• Avoiding eye contact or overcompensating and staring
• Clumsiness and poor spacial awareness
• Called “quiet” “shy” “weird” and “odd”
• Outbursts of anger when losing or unable to complete a task
• Deep levels of frustration and anxiety when routine disturbed
• Practicing “conversation trees” in head
• Facial tics
Um, yeah. So this is me. Some of these are behaviours I exhibited as a child, but many I still do. It turns out I probably have high functioning autism, formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome. I currently only have a self-diagnosis and a score of 35 out of 40 on the Cambridge autism test (over 32 is high probability of autism) but I am pursuing a professional diagnosis.
Honestly, this book just made me feel so… understood. Everything that I’ve worked so hard to hide and bury about myself is normalized and even celebrated. So yeah, it is sexy as hell and really sweet, but it’s also so important. Seeing as so many women and girls go undiagnosed, this book could offer validation to so many who need it.