Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Kiss Quotient, #1
Hero: Michael Phan
Heroine: Stella Lane
Date of Publication: June 05, 2018
Started On: May 25, 2019
Finished On: June 03, 2019
Thirty year old Stella Lane has a tough time identifying with what is normal for most people; stuff like dating, small talk, sex, husbands and boyfriends, to the point where her mother even suggests using Tinder. On the other hand, Stella has a brilliant mind, a sharp focus that is perfectly in line with her fascination for data; how bits of information comes together and fits together creating patterns where none existed before.
Two years younger than Stella, Michael Phan is of mixed Vietnamese and Swedish heritage and an escort with three years of service under his belt and counting. The excitement he used to have for the job has started to wane – however there is a darker need that drives him to do what he does, the need for revenge upon his father.
Stella facing the daunting task of perfecting her skills at having sex does what any rationally thinking individual would do. At least that is what Stella decides to do; she procures the services of Michael hoping that he would be able to show her the ropes and even teach her how to seduce someone and not feel like throwing up at the same time. But far from what she expects, Michael with his fascinating tattoo and alluring body scent throws Stella off course with the ferocity of need and other emotions that he invokes in her.
Michael, contrary to his own self-made rules on being an escort, agrees to give Stella three sessions whereby which he accepts to teach Stella all that she wants to know. But it is under the condition that no emotional entanglements cloud whatever it is that they are doing, Michael believing that he himself is far too jaded for the kind of emotional attachment he has warned Stella about. But then again, the best laid plans always have a way of being derailed all too well.
So begins the sessions leading to the entanglements that Michael was looking to avoid, and what Stella herself never saw coming. There is an ease with which these two mesh, even though at first Michael is clueless as to why Stella is the way she is; upfront and sometimes seeming to be cruel in the way she gives her honest opinion on things.
The way Michael seduces Stella, one scorching kiss at a time was enough to make me melt. There is a ferocity to Michael’s gentleness that works well with Stella (and me!), which is one reason why it was so easy to fall in love with their story.
Reading The Kiss Quotient, it does not feel like you are reading a debut novel from the author, but it is as if you have been reading Hoang’s novels all your life. There is a familiarity with the way she eases you in, shows you how challenging it is for someone like Stella regarding stuff we tend to take for granted, and the lust and love that blossoms between two people who for all intents and purposes in all likelihood are never destined to meet.
Michael’s family is one that you fall in love with, especially Quan, Michael’s cousin and sparring partner. His role is prominent in making Michael truly understand where Stella is coming from. Stella being an only child faces the sort of pressure that comes from having parents who are well established, with the kind of mindset that believes they know what is best for their child, under all circumstances.
I loved Stella for having the clarity of mind to know what she wanted. That is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with her from the start. Michael has his hangups to deal with, but none of that made him any less appealing. In fact, it made me fall in love that much harder with him. Whatever hurdles that both Stella and Michael had to go through to reach their happily ever after was worth it because Hoang is amazing in the way she weaves complex human emotions together to give the reader all the feels required to fall in love, forever more.
I was sighing by the time I read the last couple of chapters in the book, my throat clogged up with all the emotion that was seeping through the story. Michael was everything, and I mean everything (literally and figuratively), that a woman could ask for in a man. Stella was just as adorable, just as essential in the way she fearlessly falls for Michael, is yin to Michael’s yang, in every single way that matters.
Wholeheartedly recommended. This is one book you should not miss out on if you are a true romance reader!
Final Verdict: The wondrous nature of Hoang’s writing can only be felt by immersing yourself in Michael and Stella’s story. Beautifully crafted, be it emotions or the scorching sex scenes in the book. Recommended!
Wet heat stroked over her bottom lip. His tongue. She knew it was his tongue, but closed-mouth kisses made her forget. Another stroke, and shivery sensations cascaded outward. More kisses. In between aching presses of his lips, his tongue caressed her, making her skin tingle.
Soon he was seducing her mouth, stroking her bottom lip, the top lip, teasing the crease. Maybe she parted her lips. Maybe she wanted him to go further. But he didn’t. The closed-mouth kisses she’d liked so much in the beginning were no longer enough. She tried to capture his tongue, to take it into herself, but he evaded her. He brushed at her lips with maddening strokes, dipped inside for the merest second, withdrew, and she kneaded his shoulders in frustration.
He unlooped the bag from his shoulders and let it fall to the ground before he stepped toward her, not stopping until her back was pressed against the open door. He flattened a hand on the door next to her face and leaned down. His gaze dropped from her eyes to her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Okay.” He’d shaken her brain into malfunctioning, and apparently that was all she could say now.
He touched his lips to hers, and pleasure jolted to her heart, down her arms, down her legs. Tilting his head, he kissed her deeper. Once. Twice. Again. Until she sighed and leaned into him, tangled her fingers in his cool hair. He claimed her mouth with his tongue in a way that was new and familiar at once. She kissed him back with everything in her, trying to tell him all the things she wasn’t articulate enough to say.
“Let me hold you.”
She inched as close as she could get without actually touching him.
He suppressed a smile. “It might help if you sat on my lap.”
Biting her lip, she crawled onto him and straddled his hips. Fuck, so close. That part of her, opened wide. He went hard in an instant but forced himself to take things slowly. This was about Stella. He expected her to sit stiff as a board until he thought up some kind of sorcery to make her relax, but she immediately settled in close and rested her cheek against his shoulder. When his arms encircled her, she released a ragged sigh and went boneless.
He smoothed his hands up and down her back until her muscles relaxed beneath his palms. That was when he gave in and kissed the underside of one breast. She curled her fingers, and her nails pricked his skin.
Pulling back, he asked, “Are you okay, Stella?”
She cleared her throat twice. “Tell me what you’re planning. Please.”
“I’m going to suck on your pretty nipples and lick them with my tongue.” Her grip tightened on his shoulders.
“That was a bit more graphic than I was expecting.”
“How would you have said it?” He ran his mouth from the underside of her breast up to the place where pale skin gave way to dark areola.
“I don’t know what—”
He covered her nipple with his mouth and sucked hard.
“I still like mine best.” She put a spoonful of mint chocolate chip in her mouth. The complex combination of vanilla and mint exploded on her palate. Bits of chocolate crunched between her teeth. Perfection.
“Let me try it.”
She held her bowl out toward him, but he didn’t put his spoon in it. He trailed his fingers over her jaw as he tipped her head back and sealed his lips over hers. His tongue speared into her mouth, and the salt of him mixed with the flavor of the ice cream. She didn’t know if she was mortified, shocked, aroused, or all three. With a lingering lick on her bottom lip, he pulled away and grinned, his dark eyes intense and hazy.
Somehow, she found her hands tangled in his short hair. Her body was coiling tighter, grasping at his fingers, so wet now she could hear the slippery sounds every time he drove back into her.
“I’ll stop, Stella. Clearly . . .” His tongue rubbed over her fast and hard, and she clenched helplessly around his fingers. “Clearly, you hate this.”
“Michael.” That breathy, needy voice was hers. She didn’t care. She rubbed her hungry flesh against his tongue, nearly sobbing when he took her back into his mouth.
He sucked with perfect pressure, and she came apart with strong, wrenching convulsions.
His face was drawn as if in pain. “I’ve been wanting this too long. It’s too good. You feel . . .” He exhaled. “If I move, I’m going to lose it.”
She couldn’t stop herself from smiling. She wasn’t alone in this. “Move.” She arched her back and rocked against him. The motion pushed him in even deeper, filled her.
A raw groan escaped his throat. “Stella, I’m serious. Give me a moment to cool down. This is our first time. I want fireworks for you.”
She brought their lips together and kissed him like he was oxygen and she was short on air. He ran his hands down her back to her hips, cupped her sweet ass, pulled her into his hardness. She struggled to get closer, threaded her fingers through his hair as she poured herself into the kiss.
So soft, every part of her. But covered by clothes. Michael loved clothes, but they locked Stella away. He’d never felt the urge to tear at buttons like he did now. Breaking the kiss, he captured a hand and loosened the cuff around her elegant wrist.
“Clothes off,” he growled.
He eased his hands down the swan line of her spine and hooked his thumbs in the elastic of her panties, pushed the material down her thighs. They were soaked clear through, and the scent of her arousal pushed him to the edge of his control. He almost spilled into her palm. She might be pleasuring him as part of her sex ed, but she was loving it, too. You couldn’t fake this kind of evidence.
After settling her back onto the bed, he tore her panties off, balled them up, and brought them to his nose to inhale her scent. “I’m keeping these.”
“Stella, do you have any idea how hot your—”
“Michael,” she whined, bending her legs restlessly. “Don’t say it.”
He paused. Her words said no, but her body . . . Her chest heaved on ragged breaths, and she was clenched tight around his fingers.
“I think you like it when I talk dirty to you,” he whispered.
He lowered himself over her and kissed her mouth, her jaw, her neck. Hard flesh prodded at her sex. As he slid into her, their eyes accidentally met and locked. Panic spiked. Too raw, too exposed. She tried to look away until she realized the vulnerability she saw was his. Dark eyes gazed deep, seeing her seeing him.
Their bodies picked up an elemental tempo. Hips surged and retreated, claimed, gave. He searched between their bodies until he could touch her right where she needed it. She burned and wound tighter and tighter. Moans tumbled from her lips as she arched into him. Through it all, their gazes held. He saw it all, heard it all. She would have been embarrassed if it weren’t for his smile, the tender way he brushed the hair from her face before his free hand tangled with hers.
The world stopped. All was silence but for their hearts trying to synchronize their crashing.
-He didn’t know how to describe the way he felt seeing her in his clothes, knowing she’d kept his shirt and had been wearing it to sleep all this time, but it was really good. He’d been feeling like this a lot lately—basically, anytime Stella smiled, demanded a kiss, or crossed the room to be near him, but also when they weren’t together. He’d spent the entire past week in a euphoric high, grinning for no other reason than he was thinking of her. No doubt about it. Michael was stupid in love. He knew this was temporary, knew it wasn’t real, knew it couldn’t possibly end well, but he’d done what no escort should do anyway. He’d fallen for his client.
“Why? Did he do it wrong? Was he a bad kisser?”
“It felt wrong.”
“Because he wasn’t you.” The soft look in her eyes killed him. He would do anything for that look. Anything.
He angled her head back with a hand against her jaw, trying to be gentle despite the violence raging in his veins. “Going to kiss you.” He had to. If he didn’t, he would go crazy.
“Don’t. He’s in my mouth. I can still taste him. I can’t get him out.”
He released a fierce growl. “I need this, Stella.”
When she began to lower her panties, he shook his head. He looped one of her legs around his hip as he lifted and pressed her against the tile wall.
She made an impatient sound. “Don’t tease me, Michael. I need you.”
He pulled the crotch of her panties to the side and thrust hard and fast, burying himself inside her. Her breath broke, and she moaned his name. So fucking hot. He stroked his tongue over every inch of her mouth, claiming it as he angled his hips to hit her clit. The tight grip of her body, her sweet mouth, her legs around him, her breaths on his neck—perfection.