Over 18 · Romantic

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I hate math. So, a book with math on the cover is to be avoided. But, then the delightful Penny Reid’s fan club argued that The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang was perfect for any of Reid’s romance ninja’s. I have been anxiously waiting for Reid’s new book (it’s out today!) so I figured, challenge accepted. I purchased a copy of The Kiss Quotient and added it to my Canadian book pile.

thekissquotientThe ninja’s were not wrong. The Kiss Quotient is a unique contemporary romance that was a quick enjoyable read. Helen Hoang’s has said that a gender swap of Pretty Woman had been on her mind for some time when she was told that her daughter might have “high functioning autism.” While family and professionals disagreed, Hoang was intrigued, what if the heroine of her romantic tale was a person with autism? More specifically a woman with autism? The result is Stella Lane.

Stella Lane loves her work. She creates algorithms to predict customer purchases and she is extraordinarily talented. However, her parents and peers point out that she is lacking in the romance department, specifically sex. Stella knows she needs practice and prefers a professional so she hires Michael Phan. Michael is an gorgeous escort and cannot refuse when Stella puts together a lesson-plan compete with a payment that will free him from long term familial burdens.

Like Penny Reid, Helen Hoang has created a female protagonist that brings a unique perspective to the bedroom. And throughout the book the shifting narrative between Stella’s perspective and Michael’s kept me engaged. I am hopeful that Ms. Hoang will write another book and we will have the opportunity to see Stella and Michael’s relationship continue to develop and grow.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy contemporary romances? Have you read The Kiss Quotient?


 

Author Profile

Author Obsession: Jessica Day George

 

book_dragon-slippers_01I love Jessica Day George.  The thought I might love her when I read Dragon Slippers.  This is a story about a young woman named Creel whose aunt offers her as a sacrifice to the local Dragon hoping that she will be rescued by a knight and subsequently wed.  Creel instead talks herself out of trouble and then heads into her kingdom’s metropolis with only some embroidery thread and a mysterious pair of slippers.  Her adventures and successes are steered by her own convictions and supported by sheer determination.  The next two books in the series are just as good.book_tuesdays-at-the-castle_01

Then, I read her Castle series.  So good.  My love was growing.  Tuesdays at the Castle introduce the reader to Castle Glower and Princess Celie.  Castle Glower is remarkable because on Tuesdays the Castle changes by adding a room or a turret or sometimes a whole new wing.  Princess Celie is the only resident who is interested enough to map our the Castle and its new additions.  When her family and home are attacked she, like Creel, steps up to defend herself, her home, and her kingdom.  I love a strong woman!

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow cemented my undying love.  This book is just as good as anything Jessica Day George has written with the adsunmoonicesnowded benefit of being based on the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.  While I have gone through bouts of obsessing over Native American folklore, Irish fairytales, and even a period in college of immersing myself in Non-Western Culture I know nothing about Nordic fairytales.  Still, like most fairytales you will see some familiar threads.

Give me a strong woman, a strange land and an intriguing quest and I am happy.  Jessica Day George always delivers on all three and this book kept me ignoring my housekeeping and general personal hygiene until the very last page.

So there it is.  Author obsession for today.  Now that I have fully stalked her website I know that there are a couple of books I have missed.  I’m off to read!

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Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne

swept_usa

Now, chic lit is often used with great disdain to dismiss a book. Well, I proudly enjoy most stories that would probably be considered chic lit except I just call them fiction. Although, I do wish we could get away from some of the covers (Hello Publishers!) that are typically Barbie pink or feature women in uncomfortable, but beautiful, shoes.  These covers effectively pigeonhole a variety of books related to modern womanhood into one neat subcategory. Girlfriend here on this cover looks like she is using the potty or selling Poo Pourri.

But, crack it open.  This book is a delight.  And, I argue that if this story featured a male protagonist with Encyclopedic knowledge of antiques who travels into the country as a favor to his brother and finds romance and history it would be just regular fiction. But, since this features a woman and there is some kissing, it is automatically chic lit.  Which means they have to use a “girly” cover.

I bought this book because I have loved the author Hester Browne since first reading her Little Lady Agency (pink cover and all).  She has written a couple of other books and I have enjoyed each and every one of them.  Recently, I found there was one I had missed.  Oh, the joy!  To find a book by a personally vetted author is a gift.

Side note: I extra love fiction written by British women set anywhere in England.  Perhaps it is because all the trivialities of life are just so much more iteresting when you incorporate British slang. I mean, ‘loo’ instead of ‘restroom’ or ‘mini-break’ rather than ‘vacation’ is just fancier for me.  I love all of it.  The added benefit is that I (who rarely get to travel) get a free cultural lesson while reading what is, at its heart, a romance book. In the end, I feel smart and charmed which is always a winning combination.

So, I dove into Swept Off Her Feet. I found it extra enjoyable because in addition to being set in London there are prolonged jaunts into Scotland. Yum. Scottish reeling, English antiques and several love interests made for a sweet and fun book that just hits the spot.

Now, the synopsis of this book will tell you that it is about two very different sisters, Evie and Alice, and their intertwining romances and opportunity for true love at a Scottish ball. Really, this story is all from Evie’s perspective. While you get to hear about Alice’s love life, it is Evie and her love of antiques and the history that they tell that guides this story. If you enjoy books with smart, kind women who are brave in the face of social trials and tribulations then go ahead and give this fiction book a go (give it a go being British slang for try it.)

 

 

 

 

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

oneandonlyivanThis book was published in 2012. It is the captivating story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla that lives on display in a shopping mall. Katherine Applegate’s Ivan was inspired by the real Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. This book is told from Ivan’s perspective during a period of dramatic changes in his life.

I failed this book the first time I read it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book after the first read. But, the first time I read it, I zipped right through it. I wanted to find out as quickly as possible what was going to happen. I erroneous though that it is”children’s literature” and therefore shouldn’t take too much of my time. “Children’s literature,” is really just another place I, as an adult, tend to marginalize the feelings and experiences of young people.

In my haste I missed savoring the poetic word choices that were skillfully used to bring us into Ivan’s world during that pivotal change. This was powerful stuff. I had to go back and read it again. So I did, much more slowly. And I savored the moments. Even the hard ones.

You should know, I cannot stand movies or books that make me cry. I especially despise contrived stories that end in heartbreak. (I’m looking at you Nicholas Sparks!!). But, there are times when I am so moved by a story that I am tearful in a happy/sad way. The One and Only Ivan affected me in such a way. There were tears but they were purposeful and from a place of joy.

When Katherine Applegate accepted her Newberry Medal for The One and Only Ivan she remarked how moved she was by the classic talking-animal book Charlotte’s Web.  She said that she was, “enchanted and heartbroken, in equal measure.” This is precisely how I felt after reading The One and Only Ivan. Both times.