A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…
Disclaimer: I am not going to discuss the depiction of Autism in this review. Since I am not on the spectrum, I really have nothing to say about how Hoang depicted it. I will mention the fact that there were some things I wish would’ve been fleshed out better (i.e. Stella’s behavior at certain event, I do wish to know if she had any treatment etc. prior to it because some of her interactions seemed a bit OTT) That being said, I am interested in reading reviewers who are on the spectrum to see if Hoang’s portrayal was.
That being said, I did not like this one. I read it hoping that it more or less a self discovery story of a woman who comes into her own skin and likes it. Instead, it essentially was a bad gender swapped Pretty Woman story that is obviously trying to get turned into porn since there are five billion reference to the adult sex industry in the book. And not one of these characters is tested for STD’s mind you, even though the male lead is literally a man whore. At least, Pretty Woman sort of addresses that.
Seriously, that’s all I kept thinking during these sex scenes has Michael been tested? I get I was suppose to have myself lost in the romance. But I couldn’t get lost in the romance because anytime there was a love scene one of the following things was mentioned: man whores, strippers (especially in reference to Stella’s body), and porn stars (see Stella’s breasts).
Seriously, how is that suppose to get me into the mood?
It’s superficial at best. And I know we all talk about book boyfriends (which I personally find to be an obnoxious term) but here’s the thing you can’t see a book boyfriend. At the end of the day he is text unless there is a movie adaptation made about him. And most people aren’t turned on by the mention that X looks like a K-Pop actor especially if they don’t know said K-Pop actor. Rather, what turns on people to fictional characters is how they’re depicted.
And I didn’t care for Michael.
He is like a sad male version of Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman with an Alpha douche twist. At the very least if you’re going to do that, have Richard Geere a la Pretty Woman era come out of the book with those roses. You know what, I’ll insert a gif of him doing that in this review so that I get that pleasure (albeit ,belatedly).
Anyway, Michael complains about having to be be a ho to pay for his mother’s medical bills because he can’t get his fashion design business off the ground. Then its later on mentioned that he was valedictorian of his high school class, which made me wonder if he had potential skills then designing clothes that apparently show off someone’s voluptuous stripper like body in a modest like fashion.
I kid you not. While that is not a direct quote from the book some asinine description like that regarding Michael’s clothes or Stella’s body would make a frequent appearance in this book.
Besides, Michael’s seemingly lack of logic skills in the book. I just didn’t like him. I think Hoang wrote this back story involving his mother hoping that it would make me sympathize for the character, but other than it being his reason for being a hooker I really could care less. Especially when it seemed he had other options. And the rest of the aspect of the backstory-his mother’s illness, his father’s misdeeds-we’re pretty much thrown into the background in order to compare Stella to a porn star some more.
God, Stella really should just get into the business already. She already has a ready name: Stella Lane.
Fun fact, that was the street where I grew up: Stella Lane. So, I had a hard time taking any of this seriously when I read it-the comparisons to porn stars, strippers, and the occasional K-Pop icon didn’t help much either.
Autism representation aside (because again, not my place to discuss it) I found Stella’s sections of the book just as painful as Michael’s. I couldn’t sympathize with her. It’s mentioned that she has Autism, but nothing is discuss in terms of therapy or coping mechanisms are mentioned. There are some painfully awkward very obvious social miscues that she made that just have me shaking my head, especially if you take into effect how successful Stella is at her job in freaking Silicon Valley where there probably has to be some smidgen of social cues to get up as high as she did on the corporate ladder.
Also, Stella, girl, really looking up male escorts on a freaking work computer? Come on.
Speaking of the whole hiring a male escort angle there were never any repercussions for either Stella or Michael for their involvement in the business. With Michael, I expected there would’ve been some fall out from his family. With Stella, with her company and family, but nope. All it did was allow the cliche break up scene of the book.
Other than the raunchy superficial romance (and please Stella, for the love of God get tested for STD’s already, God knows where Michael’s dick has been) the book had very little plot. Romances generally don’t have much in plot to be fair, unless they’re a Lisa Kleypas book and have a ridiculous climax that comes with a gun totting villain in the last 100 or so pages of the novel, but I was really hoping this one would’ve been more character oriented. I would’ve loved rather than Phillip merely being the very obvious office perv turned NO guy in a love triangle, for him and Stella to have some sort of office rivalry going on regarding a promotion or something and maybe have Stella stressing out because of her lack of social cues to get said promotion. Like, maybe that could be why she hired Michael-to show that she can be sociable kind of like in that Halmark movie The Mistletoe Promise than just hiring him because she wants to appease her parents and thinks she needs sex lessons because of some gross comment Phillip makes.
I digress though.
That almost got me as mad as the stupid Tiny Tim trope being used at the end. For those of you, who are unaware of that trope that is where some rich character seemingly donates all their money to a character that is described as pathetic for no apparent reason. You know, calling it the Tiny Tim Trope might not be a good name for the trope because at least Scrooge was haunted into giving Tiny Tim’s family his money. And I guess here, Stella was pretty much paid in sex. But it still seemed illogical and just plain dumb and annoying. Girl, don’t give away fifteen million dollars because some sad sack is good in bed.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to recommend this shit. I have a very short fuse for bull shit right now, and this book doesn’t pass the mustard which is a shame. I was actually looking forward to this one.
Overall Rating: A D which is not the cup size Stella wears based off of Hoang’s description of her porn star breasts. Yeah, I know crass joke but I put up with this shit.