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.
Comment: Here we are in another TBR post, this month the theme is a Random Pick, which basically means anything we want or anything we were up to. I had several books I'd enjoy presenting as my choice but I ended up with Courtney Milan and her first contemporary novel.
I had this book in the pile for some time and I've enjoyed the historicals I've read by her, some more than others but I do plan on going through her back list (2017 project, humm...), so I was glad to try her contemporary work. I was even more pleased when I realized the heroine was Asian. I mean, I don't particularly look for Asian heroines but I was very curious and Courtney Milan does justice for her unusual heroines so...decision made.
In this book we meet Tina Chen, a young woman who wants to get her degree and finally make it possible for her parents to live freely without worrying about the bills. Her life isn't easy, she has to work twice as hard as any fellow student because she works and lives away from college but she's doing it. What annoys her the most, however, is how other students seem to think poor people are simply lazy and one day in class she gets into a discussion of this with Blake Reynolds, a very wealthy guy, the son of a powerful man and part of Cyclone Technology, a very conceited company.
Because of their fight, he ends up talking to her and later she has an offer from him, to trade places, each one will do what the other does for a limited time, simply as that.
Tina and Blake are very different but with this experience they learn that attraction and true feelings don't care about money or parents....
The first thing that really made me eager to read this story was the difference in classes between Tina and Blake. It's one of my personal preferences to read about heroines in dire situations but with work and humility they can try to overcome their situations. A little help from the hero is great but the best thing is for her to be worthy of any good things that might appear in her path. I don't know, this trope calls to me.
Also great was her origins and I was quite curious how the fact they come from different backgrounds would matter to their relationship. I think the connection between them was pretty convincing even if the idea that brought them together - the trade - doesn't sound very realistic in terms of jobs and professionalism behavior.
The romance is slow paced but the author is very talented in portraying this, so I was sold on them when the book ended. It never seems they simply want to act, both think and weight what they do, what the consequences can be...I guess this makes the plot rather plain but I like when characters act as grown ups. Despite this book being labeled NA - for their ages mostly - their maturity and behavior speaks to me, because they act as adults and they know how much importance the things in their life have and nothing is superficial or vain.
I liked them together, how each one could let their guard down in order to fall in love and trust and take some strength from the other.
The best thing was their personality and how we got to know them as individuals. Both had weaknesses and I was surprised to see the path the author took, especially when it came to Blake. It's not often we see his problem in real life, much less in fiction.
If there's one thing I can complain about is the subtlety. At some points, certain ideas are conveyed and we do have explicit scenes and parts when it comes to them as a couple but I guess I miss more romantic things, yes their relationship was great and sweet but a bit more emphasis on that would have been great. I just think some things weren't as obviously romantic as I would wish for.
Another thing is that there are situations that seemed a little bit too over analyzed. This means i, as the reader, had to follow that way of thinking or idea to a point where it stopped being as interesting or where I no longer had to wonder because it was explained too much or not believably. This is not bad, only something I couldn't help noticing at some point.
I like this author took time to develop the characters in a believable way. All secondary characters have a distinct personality and they seem complete, meaning they aren't there just filling space, there's a purpose to everything and every character in the page. I like how the author picks something or someone and develops that idea until the end, we can see a growth in everything, a substantial development to what surrounds the main couple. I think this makes the story look more mature and well thought, which gives it a very rational vibe, completely opposite the usual NA stories more focused on sex, lust and silly behavior.
I think this is a successful story, one I was glad to read and it made me curious about what is to come next. No subject was simply addressed here, there are themes that aren't easy but we got glimpses of them and what can possibly be done. I foresee interesting possibilities for the future.
The next book must be amazing, considering the heroine. I think the author has captivated me enough to make me read, at least, one more book in the series.