Author: Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
I’ve meant to read Courtney Milan’s book for a while. Both Keertana from Ivy Book Bindings and Sarah from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves praised her historical romance, but as I’m not a big fan of this genre and other books came into the way. When I’ve heard that Courtney Milan was releasing a NA novel I was quick to pick it up. I’m so glad I did it.
Before I tell you how much I loved this book I want to mention this amazing author’s note, where Courtney Milan gives readers insight into what was happening behind the scene. I’m very curious about why the author decided to write a book this way, what he or she was thinking while writing and what research had been done. So it was a very pleasant addition to the book.
Don’t let the blurb fool you. It makes Trade me sound like an average NA full of tropes and silly drama. Trade me is a well-written novel with complex and absolutely lovable characters, believable romance and amazing family dynamics. Though I admit that plot is a little unbelievable.
Our heroine Tina Chen is a daughter of Chinese immigrants. She is a college student who’s juggling studying, working and trying to support her parents and little sister who is ill. Her life is hard, but she doesn’t give up. Tina is amazing character. It’s difficult not to root for her. And then we have Blake. He is not an average student; he is the son of owner of Cyclone Technology. During discussion about poverty Blake makes an off-handed remark which Tina just couldn’t ignore. So she loses her temper and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life. To her shock Blake offers her to trade their lives.
Tina assumed Blake is the rich and spoiled guy, who has all he wanted. But as she accepts his offer and begins to live his life, she discovers that Blake is not that simple. He is caring, hardworking and he has his own secrets.
Romance was sweet and touching. Tina was hesitant to start anything with Blake. Though there was undeniable mutual attraction between the two of them from the start she tried to stay away emotionally. I can totally understand her motives but I found myself wishing for them to be together.
Blake’s father Adam Reynolds is a very interesting and complex character. At the first sight he is this awful cynical swearing demanding billionaire, gradually the other side of this ruthless businessman revealed to us. He is loving and protective father. Their father-son relationship with Blake was one of my favorite aspect of Trade me. It is a complex and bittersweet mix of love, caring, loyalty and at the same time fear to disappoint, pressure from father and resistance from son.
My one but rather big complaint is how Adam Reynolds’ issue was handled. When this big thing about Blake’s father was revealed I was shocked, because I didn’t see it coming. Also I was curious about what would happen next. But I was disappointed and even angry because of how it was tackled. I mean what was the message? If you have big money you can just pff… make it all go away? Just like this? I don’t like this message. I think the guilty party got off too easy.
Tina’s relationship with her family is another great aspect of this book. Tina’s parents are constant source of worry, sometimes they embarrass her, but it’s obvious how much they love her. When Tina needed help, her mother dropped everything and came to the rescue.
So if you want character driven contemporary romance with diversity Trade me would be a perfect choice. Speaking about diversity, wait for the second book in this series. It would be about Tina’s trans friend Maria Lopez and an Asian hero. Just look at its cover!