Stella Lane loves mathematics and equations and is extremely good at her job, which involves creating algorithms to predict customer purchases, It makes her highly valued by her employer and she makes more money than she has any idea what to do with. Stella has Asperger’s, which means she’s on the Autism Spectrum, and has not had a lot of success when dating in the past. She believes this is her fault (it’s not, she’s clearly dated some total loser creeps). So when her mother declares that she would like grandchildren, Stella tries to methodically figure out how to get better. How does one practise dating? Hire a tutor, of course.
Stella engages the services of escort Michael Phan. Half Vietnamese, half Swedish, Michael works as an escort every Friday night to help pay for his mother’s medical bills (a side of his life he keeps completely secret from his family). He has a rule that he never sees the same woman more than once, but Stella isn’t like most of his other clients and he is intrigued by her offer to teach her how to succeed in a romantic relationship, even though he’s a little taken aback by her lesson plans (complete with boxes to tick once she’s completed an objective).
Soon, what began as a business arrangement becomes something more emotional, but both Stella and Michael have baggage that make it difficult for them to fully commit to the other. Can they move past the negative experiences of their pasts to find a future together?
I’ve seen The Kiss Quotient mentioned on a lot of romance review blogs, both on “Can’t wait to read” lists and generally very favourably reviewed. It’s rare enough that romance feature South Asian characters, or feature a positive portrayal of sex work, but neuro-atypical characters are even fewer and far between. Way back in 2011, I read Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which features a hero who is Autistic, and I seem to recall that was a pretty big deal at the time. That book didn’t work for me at all, for a number of reasons, but since this one came so highly recommended and I wanted to cannonball on something hopefully good, I picked this up.
Full review on my blog.