Even though it’s only the first month, I can tell 2020 is going to be a great reading year for me. Out of the five books I’ve already finished this month, TWO have been five-star reads! That’s a lot for me — I hand four stars out to books like they’re candy. But these books were amazing and completely deserving of all the stars. So, drum roll please, both of the books were by Helen Hoang.
After reading these books, Helen Hoang has become one of my new favorite authors. She writes compassionate, complex characters that make it feel like you are reading a rom-com for the first time. She doesn’t back away from discussing Vietnamese culture or autism, and she does it flawlessly. And she’s seriously sensory, like I felt like I could taste all the food her characters made in the books. I love a good use of imagery.
If you haven’t read either of these, I HIGHLY recommend you do. These are my first two five star reads of the year. And they are so good I’ll even think about lending you my copies.
The Kiss Quotient
I loved this book so much. Helen Hoang has changed the genre with this one. The Kiss Quotient is a heart-felt rom-com you’ll be recommending for years to come. It also gets steamy real quick.
Stella realizes that she has a bit of a dating problem because of her Asperger’s, and after enough failed experiments, she hires an escort to teach her the ways of love once and for all. Enter Michael, the Most Dreamy Man a Girl Could Wish For. In a reverse Pretty Woman, Stella falls for the man she hired and it gets real cute (and as forementioned, steamy). They have their ups and downs throughout the story, resulting in some big misadventures, but it ends on the sweetest note.
You can’t go wrong with reading this book, it’s just that amazing. I really liked that Helen Hoang made her female protagonist autistic — I feel like in all literature, but romance especially, women on the spectrum aren’t as well represented as men. Stella is such a strong character, and Michael never gets frustrated or angry with her because of her autism, which was great to see. Stella and Michael both work through some of their anxieties, we see into their families and meet amazing secondary characters.
The Kiss Quotient is an easy, fast read. It is fun, fresh, and so bright and welcoming. I think you would like this book even if you don’t usually read romance. And it needs to be made into a movie — preferably now. Literally didn’t wait a second to read the next book in the series (as evident below).
The Bride Test
After reading The Kiss Quotient, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. It is so good, and if you loved the first book in the series, this one won’t let you down.
Esme is a poor girl who lives in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. When Khai’s mother offers to bring her to America for the chance to marry her son, Esme takes on the challenge. What follows is a beautiful love story with two complex characters. Khai doesn’t think he can love because of his autism, and Esme has to overcome her insecurity about her lack of education.
Helen Hoang writes about Vietnamese culture so incredibly, and she really incorporates it well into her second book. Since Esme is from Vietnam and has never been to America, we see the culture differences, the different language customs and so much more. I really enjoyed getting to read about all the food Esme made, the culture shock in the different enviroments and even her experience taking classes and getting a GED.
The Bride Test also does a great job in continuing with a character on the autism spectrum. Khai’s particularities were even more pronounced than Stella in The Kiss Quotient. We see a lot more of his routine and the way Esme challenges and comforts him. I loved the hair cutting scene (if you know, you know — and if you don’t, you’ll know soon WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK!), and it went lengths in showcasing a romantic protagonist with autism.
Hoang forgets nothing in this book, least of all the romance. Khai and Esme are both so sweet and it was fun getting to see their relationship develop from beginning to end. I really cannot wait for The Heart Principle now!
What are your five star reads so far this year? And if you’ve read either of these books, feel free to let me know what you thought of them in the comments!