Monday, May 13, 2024

Trade Me by Courtney Milan


If you're tired of alpha billionaires who like to dom their meek partners and want a soft boi billionaire who gets bulldozed by his outspoken and socially conscious opposite check out TRADE ME by Courtney Milan (and then check out PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT by Heather Guerre-- I read them back to back and I highly recommend it).

Blake and Tina go to the same college, but she's struggling to make ends meet and supporting her immigrant family and he's the son of one of the richest tech magnates in the world. When she shuts him down in class by calling him out on his privilege, rather than losing his shit, he offers to trade lives to show that he wants to understand what it's like and also bring her on board to help him with some of his company's secret software, given her STEM background and intelligence.

You really have to suspend your belief with the plot of this one, but honestly the characters make it. The author captures what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck, and presents a pretty realistic portrayal of the vast chasm that separates the haves from our have nots in a society where wealth disparity is constantly widening in the face of an increasingly ruthless capitalistic economy. ALSO, when have you ever read a romance novel where the male character has an eating disorder? Loved seeing that representation normalized here, and handled so sympathetically. The way another character's drug addiction was handled was also really well done. Just A-pluses all around.

I saw a lot of people saying that Tina was a bitch but I have a soft spot for prickly heroines. Especially if they're totally justified. I personally liked the sequel, HOLD ME, more, because Maria and Jay were my absolute FAVORITES, but this one was really good too. The way Milan writes about the Bay Area shows everything about what's good-- and bad-- here. I really hope she ends up continuing this series someday.

P.S. Get you a guy who goes down for cocaine possession to get you out of jail

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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