The Kiss Quotient is a book that had come to my attention multiple times in the past, but which I’d passed on each time for one reason or another. Though, after looking up recommendations for books relating to autism specifically, and seeing it pop up time and time again, I moved it to the top of my list and splurged on all three books in the series. Having now finished the first of the three books, I’m wondering if I may have been a bit rash with that decision.
What I expected would be a cute, quirky romance turned out to be plot and characters taking a backseat to filth. I’m not here to kink shame or say there’s anything wrong with that type of book, just saying it was not at all what I’d expected going in. Maybe I should’ve, considering it’s about a woman using a male prostitute to get better at sex. Still, the book is as dripping with sex as her panties are dripping throughout. And when I say “sex,” I mean sex, seeing as that’s what she calls her privates. Yes, it got on my nerves, in case you were wondering.
Had the dirty bits been less porny, maybe I would’ve enjoyed them more. I felt as if I was reading a porn script that was touched up and padded out later. She always is wet, she always is orgasming, they are always coming together, she literally has what is described as “porn star tits,” she is described as looking “barely legal,” he is a genetic freak with his “8-pack” (that is apparently a possible thing, I learned upon a cursory Google search). If I didn’t feel invested in these characters, the sex scenes, and all the other steamy scenes, would’ve made me quit on this one.
That being said, I did have some skin in the game with the characters. The story was rather predictable, and I don’t feel it added much in terms of autistic representation, but as mindless, romantic fluff, it passed the bar. I guess it’s nice to see an autistic character like Stella who has found a job that makes pros of what can so often be seen as cons of autism, such as the obsessive focus on certain things (in this case, her career), and who isn’t quite the autistic savant stereotype (despite somehow being smart and talented enough in her field to be a freaking casual millionaire, which elicited quite the eye roll from me when I read it). However, her thoughts are centered primarily on her internal shame about her diagnosis, to the point that it causes unnecessary drama towards the end and she tries to “fix” or undo her autism at one point, and so the little bits of “you’re wonderful just how you are” feel like too little amidst that dinh. Like Hoang wanted it to be an affirming book for autistics, but leaned too hard into the negative thoughts they have (probably herself included, as she too is autistic) and saved the affirmations for a little sprinkle on top.
Then there’s Michael, a hooker with a heart of gold who worries he’ll become his fucker of a father. He’s charming enough, except he feels almost too wet-dreamy a guy. He’s fit; smart; can play piano, cook, and make beautiful clothing; and he’s a huge softy who’ll give up everything for the people he loves the most. He even has a giant tattoo to make him a little edgy! And he winds up falling into the sorta stalkery, sexual harrassment-ery tropes that rom-coms so often do towards the end of the book, which isn’t the best look.
Having said all of this, the good and the bad all sorta washes out in the end to give me a pretty middle of the road book that was readable enough, yet doesn’t register much beyond that.