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The Kiss Quotient
Cover of The Kiss Quotient
The Kiss Quotient
One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2018
One of Amazon's Top 100 Books of 2018
"This is such a fun read and it's also quite original and sexy and sensitive."—Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author
"Hoang's writing bursts from the page."—Buzzfeed
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2018
One of Amazon's Top 100 Books of 2018
"This is such a fun read and it's also quite original and sexy and sensitive."—Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author
"Hoang's writing bursts from the page."—Buzzfeed
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
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Excerpts-
  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2018 Helen Hoang

    Chapter 1

    "I know you hate surprises, Stella. In the interests of communicating our expectations and providing you a reasonable timeline, you should know we're ready for grandchildren."

    Stella Lane's gaze jumped from her breakfast up to her mother's gracefully aging face. A subtle application of makeup drew attention to battle-ready, coffee-colored eyes. That boded ill for Stella. When her mother got something into her mind, she was like a honey badger with a vendetta—pugnacious and tenacious, but without the snarling and fur.

    "I'll keep that in mind," Stella said.

    Shock gave way to rapid-fire, panic-scrambled thoughts. Grandchildren meant babies. And diapers. Mountains of diapers. Exploding diapers. And babies cried, soul-grating banshee wails that even the best sound-canceling headphones couldn't buffer. How did they cry so long and hard when they were so little? Plus, babies meant husbands. Husbands meant boyfriends. Boyfriends meant dating. Dating meant sex. She shuddered.

    "You're thirty, Stella dear. We're concerned that you're still single. Have you tried Tinder?"

    She grabbed her water and gulped down a mouthful, accidentally swallowing an ice cube. After clearing her throat, she said, "No. I haven't tried it."

    The very thought of Tinder—and the corresponding dating it aimed to deliver—caused her to break out in a sweat. She hated everything about dating: the departure from her comfortable routine, the conversation that was by turns inane and baffling, and again, the sex . . .

    "I've been offered a promotion," she said, hoping it would distract her mother.

    "Another one?" her father asked, lowering his copy of the Wall Street Journal so his wire-framed glasses were visible. "You were just promoted two quarters ago. That's phenomenal."

    Stella perked up and scooted to the edge of her seat. "Our newest client—a large online vendor who shall remain nameless—provided the most amazing datasets, and I get to play with them all day. I designed an algorithm to help with some of their purchase suggestions. Apparently, it's working better than expected."

    "When is the new promotion effective?" her father asked.

    "Well . . ." The hollandaise and egg yolk from her crabcakes Benedict had run together, and she attempted to separate the yellow liquids with the tip of her fork. "I didn't accept the promotion. It was a principal econometrician position that would have had five direct reports beneath me and require much more client interaction. I just want to work on the data."

    Her mother batted that statement away with a negligent wave of her hand. "You're getting complacent, Stella. If you stop challenging yourself, you're not going to make any more improvement with your social skills. That reminds me, are there any coworkers at your company who you'd like to date?"

    Her father set his newspaper down and folded his hands over his rounded belly. "Yes, what about that one fellow, Philip James? When we met him at your last company get-together, he seemed nice enough."

    Her mother's hands fluttered to her mouth like pigeons homing in on bread crumbs. "Oh, why didn't I think of him? He was so polite. And easy on the eyes, too."

    "He's okay, I guess." Stella ran her fingertips over the condensation on her water glass. To be honest, she'd considered Philip. He was conceited and abrasive, but he was a direct speaker. She really liked that in people. "I think he has several personality disorders."

    Her mother patted Stella's hand. Instead of putting it back in her lap...

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    Stella Lane, a successful 30-year-old econometrician with Asperger's syndrome, is feeling the pressure from her mother to settle down. But she doesn't like dating, or kissing, or what might come after. So she finds a practical solution: hiring escort Michael Phan for some unconventional education. When their first night doesn't go as planned, Stella realizes that her intended field of study should be relationships, not just sex. Michael agrees to be her faux boyfriend, but neither can deny that the feelings brewing between them are very real. Debut author Hoang, diagnosed with Asperger's herself, portrays Stella with honesty and tenderness. Michael's fraught family history is given lush attention, with a cast of endearing relatives who come together in a delightfully realistic portrayal of an unlikely couple falling in love. This title sits firmly in the erotic romance category, but the couple's slow build (and sizzling sexual chemistry) is certainly worth the wait. VERDICT A compulsively readable erotic romance that is equal parts sugar and spice. Highly recommended.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 9, 2018
    oang knocks it out of the park with this stellar debut about an autistic woman who takes a methodical approach to learning about sex and accidentally gets a lesson in love. Stella is great at her job creating predictive algorithms, but she’s not so great at relationships, which is why she decides to hire escort Michael. Stella’s autism is presented as both a genuine challenge and a part of her that she knows how to use to her advantage, and Hoang gives her tremendous depth as a character, never reducing her to a walking diagnosis. While Stella’s intentions toward Michael start out as purely sexual, his gentleness and compassion begin to nudge her in more romantic directions, and his sense of honor, along with her tendency toward obsession, soon complicate their tidy professional arrangement. The two of them do a beautiful job of navigating their insecurities and fears, transforming their commercial relationship into something emotionally meaningful to them both. Hoang carefully avoids stereotypes and clichés: Stella never judges Michael for his profession, and he never judges her for her neuroatypicality. The diverse cast and exceptional writing take this romance to the next level, and readers who see themselves in Stella will be ecstatic. Agent: Kim Lionetti, BookEnds Literary.

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