As a rule, I generally don’t care for contemporary romance. I much prefer historical settings, and I usually feel like contemporaries end up being much more about sex than romance. (Jude Deveraux is my exception.) But I have recently chosen to read two contemporaries written by two of my favorite historical romance authors. The first is Trade Me, a New Adult by Courtney Milan and the first in her new Cyclone series.
THE PLOT: Tina Chen is a really poor, struggling college student. She lives on rice in order to send money to her family…and then her mother gives it all away to other people. Tina is pretty fed up when she loses it over comments made by classmate Blake Reynolds, the pampered son of the super-wealthy owner of Cyclone, a Fortune-500 technology company. Blake has been interested in Tina for a long time, but he’s been dealing with a lot of issues…including how to avoid taking over the company from his father. For him, college is a deflection, NOT the only way to a better life like it is for Tina.
After the blow-up, Blake starts bonding with Tina. As her learns about her, he offers to trade lives with her for a short time. She can write the script for the reveal of Blake’s incredible new Cyclone product, live in his house, drive his car, and earn his salary. He’ll live in the garage she calls home, washing dishes for a job and living on Tina’s meager salary. Tina agrees under the condition that when time’s up, they have no relationship whatsoever…no friendship, no romantic involvement. Mutual attraction will play havoc with this plan, though.
MY TWO CENTS: I couldn’t stop reading this book. Yes, it requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but that didn’t bother me. Blake is a likable character, and he wrestles with a problem you don’t usually see with male characters. Tina and her family are so well-written that they might actually exist. I could feel Tina’s anguish in dealing with her mother, as well as her sense of responsibility for the family.
As usual, Courtney Milan makes the reader believe a real relationship is developing between two characters. It’s never just, “Poof, we’re in love. Ta da!” It grows gradually throughout the story.
BOTTOM LINE: I really enjoyed this story and both main characters. I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2 in the series, Hold Me, which will include a transgender character (Tina’s best friend and roommate).
TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: The book is available now in paperback and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.