Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan


Title: Trade Me (Cyclone #1)
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre/Themes: Interracial Romance, New Adult
Release Date: 20 Jan 2015

Author's links:
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My rating: 4 Stars
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Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.
To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.


I love Ms Milan historical romances and when I heard she was writing a contemporary, I was curious to read it asap. Now, when I saw the blurb that the hero is a billionaire CEO, I almost gave up and didn't in the end. I'm really glad I gave this story a chance. 

This is a NA college romance with the typical college student inner turmoil, angst and all but at the same time it's so much more. The characters are refreshingly unique - Tina is Chinese and Blake is white. 

I very much appreciated their complexity and how theu both were faced in difficult and not-your-everyday issues in their lives. There is no insta love but a slowly growing romance. I got annoyed a bit at some point of both them being so focused their arrangement having an expiration date. Tina was way too stubborn in denying her feelings, denying herself the chance for something good coming into her life. Blake was more honest with himself as regards how he felt about Tina but he was crippled by indecision and and guilt and shame. I wanted them to act, to take the risk and go with their hearts. 

The story presents interesting family dynamics between Blake and his father on the one side and between Tina and her family on the other. Both parents loved their children deeply and sincerely but that didn't save them from amking terrible mistakes and causing pains to those that you loved the most. All the family interactions felt so real - funny and intimate, traditional and modern at the same time. My only complaint is that I found the big secret about Blake's dad a bit out of place and unrealistic, though it's not a major issue for me. 

Blake was really a great hero - his problem was hinted from the start but the suspense was kept well into to story and I'm glad that Ms Milan chose this particular issue to highlight. It's not a very common weakness for male characters in fiction (I haven't read any other stories with this premise) but I guess it does happen in real life and it's great to see it reflected in fiction.

It's a very character focused story. The romance element is a bit weak and focus is rather on the characters growth and the way the deal with their issues. I wish things between Tina and Blake were explored with more depth but we will be seeing more of them in the next books in the series and I hope this deficiency will be made up for.

The dialogue was funny and quick-witted which is a trademark feature of Ms Milan's characters. It balanced quite nicely the seriousness of the characters' struggles and their deep introspecive musings. 

The story touched in so many interesting issues - life and culture of Chinese immigrants in the US, high-tech innovative design - it made a trully entertaining and informative reading.

Another intriguing aspect  was Tina's best friend and roommate, Maria. She will be the heroine in the next book in the series and her background makes me really excited for her story.

The final 20% of the story didn't work that well for me. Some of the things felt forced, the I-love-you confession felt out of character for both Tina and Blake. I've already mentioned the incident with Blake's dad and the way I felt it too didn't fit well with the story so far.  

A well-written, well-researched, moving story of two young people discovering themselves and coming together in a passionated and soulful relationship. I'd recommend it to all fans of contemporary romance, even those like me who are weary of New Adult stories. Go ahead and give it a try, you will be nicely surprised!

Purchase links: amazon | apple | nook | kobo | google | all romance | smashwords

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