A Different Kind of Book From Courtney Milan
“Try trading lives with me.”
THE STORY: Tina Chen is a 20 year old college student struggling to finish college. She is also having to care for her family because her mother gives the little money they have to others. Blake Reynolds is 23 years old and a billionaire. He has been in public display since a child when he did commercials for his father’s technology company (think Apple clone). Blake has struggles of his own as he attempts to distance himself from his father’s shadow. When Tina and Blake end up in an argument during a class, Blake proposes that Tina and Blake trade lives. They end up finding out about themselves, their families, and each other. Romance ensues.
OPINION: TRADE ME, a contemporary new adult romance, is not a book I would have picked if it had been written by anyone other than Courtney Milan. Milan, however, has wowed me with her historical romances and I am always willing to give such authors the benefit of the doubt.
TRADE ME is told in two first person voices: Tina and Blake. This is a book where both characters are on a personal journey. I really enjoyed how the secrets in this book are slowly revealed for the reader and the characters themselves. Much of the book feels more like a self discovery book than a romance book, but there is no doubt that this is a romance book. There is a deep connection between Tina and Blake even as Tina wishes to push away from Blake for almost the entire book. Blake feels like the more vulnerable character here perhaps because part of Tina’s coping mechanism is to be the strong character in her family.
This book also addresses many serious issues, but is not an overly serious book itself. It confines its examination of social issues to discussions relevant to the characters which keeps the book from being didactic. I also like how the issues the characters face are not ones that conform to any stereotype. The story also doesn’t conform to the standard response to a trading places type of story: that everyone has it hard. This story doesn’t rely on that easy answer. The problems and the solutions to this story are complex and difficult and feel real.
My minor complaint with the story is that it feels unfinished because it is. There is more to Tina and Blake’s story and so this book feels like the characters have reached a good place, but that their difficulties are not behind them.
WORTH MENTIONING: I really appreciate the interracial romance and they are still rare enough to mention that TRADE ME is one of them.
FINAL DECISION: This book takes a little time for the reader to comprehend what is at issue because the depths of the characters are slow in being revealed. While the characters have a happy ending, they clearly have unfinished business (luckily Book 3 will return to Tina and Blake).
CONNECTED BOOKS: TRADE ME is the first book in the Cyclone series.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.