THE KISS QUOTIENT
Wealthy main character with intimacy issues? Check. Hooker with a heart of gold to turn them around? Check. Awkwardness and hot-for-teacher fantasy? Check and check. But this is where things you’ve seen before start to look very different. Hoang’s take on the Pretty Woman trope makes her heroine wealthy, emotionally awkward, sexually inexperienced and — oh yeah — autistic. Her hero is half Swedish, half Vietnamese and one-hundred percent to die for. One of the reasons these two work so well together is that Michael is experienced in dealing with loved ones on the spectrum. He recognizes some of Stella’s coping mechanisms, respects them and thinks about how he can be with her in ways that make her comfortable and happy. Surely this is a worthy goal for any romance hero! At first this is all part of a job, but soon, reaching and pleasing Stella becomes important to Michael in the way that pleasing the person you’re in love with becomes important to anyone. Stella and Michael together are simply delightful. The Kiss Quotient rings with authenticity and will be on every romance recommended reading list this summer.
Stella is used to solving difficult problems, usually with math and computers. She knows that due to her autism she doesn’t do relationships the same way other people do, but she has solved this kind of problem before, and she’s a great student. All she needs is the right teacher. Michael has his own reasons for making money the old-fashioned way. Both Michael and Stella defy assumptions, family expectations and their own insecurities to find their way to each other. (BERKLEY, Jun., 336 pp., $15.00)