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Cyclone #1

Trade Me

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Listening length: 7 hours, 45 minutes

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

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.

279 pages, ebook

First published January 19, 2015

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About the author

Courtney Milan

69 books5,249 followers
Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets, and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller.

Courtney pens a weekly newsletter about tea, books, and basically anything and everything else. Sign up for it here: https://bit.ly/CourtneysTea

Before she started writing romance, Courtney got a graduate degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley. After that, just to shake things up, she went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude. Then she did a handful of clerkships. She was a law professor for a while. She now writes full-time.

Courtney is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,018 reviews
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,870 followers
January 22, 2015
3.5 stars. Full review posted January 22, 2015

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Dear Reader,

If you are here to meet a man who…
…is a manipulative jerk with stalker-ish tendencies
…has a fetish for insecure virgins with an inner goddess complex (or any other complex for that matter)
…hides a torture chamber filled with BDSM devices in his penthouse, then…

 photo oie_rB6uOfbgBw4W_zpss4rcvi6d.gif photo oie_7Jz8MX9JEpIa_zpslneusmh9.gif

…you failed the test. Didn’t you know that I dropped out of Fifty? I’m very disappointed that you are not up to date. Shame on you. You are requested to kindly take exit A. Thank you.
Besides, it will give me a little reprieve because I really need to get rid of that cut. That’s not going to cut it in the big bad business world.

Now, if you are one of the lucky ‘winners’, then I’d advise you to follow my instructions because you have a chance at meeting my gorgeous self. Congratulations!
You’re on the wrong floor, though. Go straight up to the top floor. Et voilà! I can’t say how happy I am that you chose a down to earth billionaire hero à la Courtney Milan. If you haven’t realized it yet that would be me. *points finger at picture below*

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Anyway, I don’t want you to miss out on the actual review, so I’d like to pass the word to Baba who’s going to talk about my little trade with Tina. I’ll see you later…hopefully.

Oh dear, I’m surprised that so many winners joined me. I need to mothball my beloved Harley stat and buy a couple limousines. And don’t say anything to my girlfriend. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I guarantee you that would not go over well. Thank you. *sheepish smile*

Charlie, I'm going to say this only once…behave otherwise I'm going to call your girlfriend. Got it? See? That shut him up.

Rating clarification
Writing: 4 stars
Storyline: 4 stars (though I must say that I didn't enjoy the final 15 %)
Blake’s father: 4.5 stars
Tina’s mother: 2 stars
Blake: 3.5 stars
Tina: 2 stars

Average rating: 3.3333 stars

In a nutshell
Blake Reynolds has been working for his father's company Cyclone since he was a teenager. He feels the pressure of taking over the reins in the near future and needs some breathing space. Going to college, he hopes to finally solve his problem. That's where he meets Tina Chen. After a rather heated discussion about poor people and food stamps, Tina challenges him.

"(…) You know what, Blake? Nobody here would care about a word you said if your family was on food stamps. Try trading lives with me. You couldn't manage it, not for two weeks."

Blake can't resist that kind of dare.

She almost fooled me when she came off as someone showing some backbone in the beginning of the story. But then my face got longer and longer. I found her to be dull and she kept repeating it's not safe. So what? Get over it already! She wasn't only boring, she really irritated me. Also, a heroine having body issues (her allegedly nonexistent boobs) is a big turn off for me. I think being self-confident is very sexy. Respect and love your body and you will make your man happy. Blake gave her a compliment and she just brushed him off. Not cool. I also thought that their "budding" romance didn't sizzle enough and was kind of weak.

At 83% annoyed me very much. And, to top it off, she I can only describe her behavior as very reckless and totally stupid. Anyway, that explanation why she was so careful came too late for me. Besides, what was equally dumb and very predictable was that little interlude. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. And, in the aftermath of that little drama, I was supposed to have a good laugh during their I guess I was still so pissed that I couldn't help being…miffed. I mean the plot and the hero's background story was so very good and engaging, so I didn't see the point in ruining the entire thing with that dumb move.

Among the huge, irritating and very trite swamp of billionaire jerks, it was refreshing to read about a man whose personality was different. Also, as a nice bonus, Blake did have an interesting back story. I have a problem. It is very unfortunate, however, that I never completely connected with him. I also thought that the resolution of his problem didn't get enough attention. For too long a time I was aware that he had a problem (which didn't come as a real surprise, BTW) and he tried to outrun everything but getting to the bottom of the matter and, even more so, resolving his issues, needed and deserved more time. Frankly, that didn't really satisfy me in the end.

"But you know what? There's one thing I'm not going to do. I promised you when we started that you were important. So I'm not going to call your life a back-to-nature serenity camp or a tourism home stay. I may be clueless. I may be taken aback. It may be that I have no idea what to do with $15.22 because I have never even gone grocery shopping before. But this is your life. It matters."
She inhales sharply. "Fine." And then she turns to leave.
"One other thing."
She turns back to me slowly. She doesn't say anything.
"It's okay to like me," I tell her. "Eventually, just about everyone does."

Last but not least let me say a few words about Adam, Blake's father. I loved him. While his (unexpected) secret put a damper on my adoration for him, I still think that we would get along f@cking well. Geez, I laughed so many times when he opened his very straightforward and somewhat filthy mouth. Regardless of his language and overbearing behavior, he really loved Blake dearly.

Adam calling his son "asshole" has a back story. It's some kind of running joke…so don't judge him too quickly.

What the fuck, asshole, my father writes with his usual bluntness. Are you avoiding me?
It's been five days since we've spoken, longer than we've ever gone before. From his point of view, it must feel like I disappeared off the face of the planet.
Possibly. I have some stuff on my plate. I need to disconnect a little, so I've been conserving my time to take care of the script.
The light indicates that he's typing a response. It comes in piece by piece.
What new fucking rancid bullshit is this? If you are blowing me off for some new-wave meditative retreat shit, I swear to God there will be a nuclear explosion down here.

People think that my dad is an asshole because he says shit like this all the time and they think he means it. He doesn't. He's not really an asshole. He's just fluent in the language of asshole and likes using it.
Jesus, Dad. Mushroom clouds are 60s-era scare tactics. They're not even frightening anymore. Get with the program. Dirty bombs are the new black.
He comes back with: I'll compromise with weaponized anthrax, but that's as modern as I can manage. You can't teach an old dog new methods of mass destruction.

See? The man is pretty awesome!

I'd recommend you to give Trade Me a shot because Courtney Milan's great writing, the well-placed humor and her trademark wit as well as the interesting plot might make it worth your while. And finally, I really am totally excited to read Maria's story. She's a and I can't wait to see her again and meet her love interest.

Recommended read.

All quotes are taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted in the final copy

**ARC courtesy of Courtney Milan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,173 reviews98.8k followers
June 17, 2020
I loved so much about this book: the discussion on immigration, an asian-american main character, healthy talks of power imbalances, breaking stigmas of poverty, the guy love interest having an eating disorder, and more!

But I just felt like… the love interest was hard to root for. I constantly kept asking myself “should I be feeling empathy?” and I don’t think that’s a very good sign, especially when such a baseline of the story is built off power dynamics.

Also, this entire story was just so unrealistic. Like, I truly did enjoy so many aspects, but I could never be fully immersed because I was just unable to suspend my disbelief in such a way every other chapter (but especially by the end)!

I still think this was a good read, just made a tad bit dated as well, but I am excited to carry on with book two for the book club! And again, there was a lot of good within these pages, I just felt unable to connect for many of them!

Content and Trigger Warnings for disordered eating, racism (challenged), talk of being cheating on in the past, loss of a loved one in the past, drug use, and heart attacks.

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Buddy read with Lea! ❤
Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
July 10, 2022
2.5 stars? Totally respect what this book attempted (and somewhat succeeded at) but it fell a bit short in the end. If I had a list of fictional couples that would never 'realistically' last past their HEA, these two would be on it.
Profile Image for Lady Vigilante (Feifei).
632 reviews2,701 followers
January 21, 2015
4 stars!


This was such a refreshing NA romance!! Though there’s the overused billionaire trope, there were so many other aspects to this story that made me go ‘yes, this genre needs more of that.’ These characters were ethnically diverse, the billionaire hero was so down-to-earth, the heroine a smart and sassy chick, their banter was top-notch, and even though they both had a lot of baggage, I never felt like any of it was contrived or put in for drama’s sake. They’re genuine characters and I could really relate to them, especially the heroine Tina. Not to mention the side characters were all so amazing but at the same time they didn’t overshadow the main characters either. But what I loved the most about this book is that it’s just smart. Nowadays, most of the angst and conflict in NA romances stems from cheating, love triangle, sex, making each other jealous, miscommunication, blah blah, and I mean…give me something new. Something fresh. Some real drama. And oh boy, this book delivered on that part. From the intellectual sparring between Tina and Blake to the very real-life struggles both characters had with their families and worries about their future to their collaboration about creative products in Blake’s Cyclone company, all of it just really worked for me. This is a book that picked at my brain, made me think, and at the same time got me emotionally invested as well. I like books that engage both my mind and my heart, so this one was a winner.

The basis of the story is that both Blake and Tina agree to trade lives for a semester, with Tina getting Blake’s car, income, house, and company duties and Blake getting Tina’s shack living quarters and uh...

“Congratulations. You have $15.22. There’s also about nine pounds of rice left.”

LOL! Anyways, I just want to reassure you this is not your typical rich guy falls for poor girl romance. The reasoning behind their switch is actually pretty deep and more thoughtful than I expected. And even though he’s labeled as a billionaire, Blake is a far cry from what you’d expect from men of this category. He’s not an arrogant, cocky bastard who feels the need to act like a jerk and love BDSM; he’s what I call a REAL guy. Someone who has issues and struggles through life just like we all do, and doesn’t throw his weight around just because he’s wealthy. Same goes for Tina. She’s one of the most candid and blunt heroines I’ve ever read about. And her whip-smart attitude and quick reflexes are just laugh out loud hilarious.

There’s an underlying attraction between the two, but it isn’t until they switch lives and the semester progresses that their feelings really grow, even though they agreed that after all of it is over, everything would go back to normal.


This is the only part I had an issue with – the romance is weak and there’s definitely a strong connection between the two, but because there was just so much going on in the background, that bond didn’t get a chance to manifest and develop. However, I very much enjoyed the antics from the side characters like Blake’s dad and Tina’s mom, and whenever these two were together, I felt the connection, so this wasn’t too big of a problem for me.

“You’ve never been invisible to me. I saw you the first day we crossed paths, and I’ve been seeing you ever since.”

I also have to mention that the author really did her research. I’m Chinese, and though I loved that this heroine was too, I was also a little nervous that anything culture related would be butchered. It’s safe to say that wasn’t the case. Tina’s interactions with her family made me nostalgic and think of how I would have some of the same conversations with my parents and siblings. I also really loved reading about Blake’s relationship with his dad. Their father-son bond made me laugh like crazy but also tugged at my heartstrings.

For a seasoned historical romance author’s first NA novel, I am pretty impressed. Even with the romance being a little weak, this character-driven story was highly entertaining and a fresh take on billionaire romances. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend if you’re in the mood for some non-generic fun!


Trade Me is the first book in the Cyclone series and can be read as a standalone. There will be another book following this couple, though it’s totally optional as this book ends quite nicely relationship-wise. Book 2 will be about Tina’s best friend Maria and considering her past, her book might prove to be even more diverse and intriguing than this first one.

ARC provided by Victory Editing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Catarina.
896 reviews1,974 followers
January 24, 2015
3,5 Exchanging Stars.

Tina is a student who works hard everyday of her life just to make ends meet and be able to keep studying. Her dream is study hard in college, then find a good job that allows her to pay her parent’s bills and never have to worry about money again. Blake works in his father company since he’s a teenager, his father is a self-made billionaire who wants to pass the company to Blake. One day during class Tina and Blake start fighting over poverty and after that Blake makes her deal: For six weeks they will trade lives and each one will find out the reality of the other. Blake will find out that isn’t easy having to worry every second if the money will be enough for food. Tina will find that sometimes things aren’t what it seems and not everything that glitters is gold. And together they will find out why people say opposites attract.


This was a sweet and kind of refreshing NA. There wasn’t that immature drama or excessive angst. It had a slow rhythm and the story developed slowly and gave time to the characters really know each other. The writing was good and it was an engaging reading… but there’s something missing. For me it lacked spark between the heroes, I didn’t felt any “butterflies” and that isn’t my intention when I’m reading a romance. Somewhere around the middle I felt myself becoming bored and thinking that if the book was never going to end.
However, it is a nice story with a refreshing plot and you should give it a try.

Rating: 3,5 Stars.
Characters Development: The good thing about Tina and Blake is they were really mature for a NA book. They weren’t whinny and everything and everyone weren’t against. They were both very adult and work their asses off. I liked them individual characters. The problem? Absolutely no chemistry. Most of the times I fell like they were best friends an in the little times that they *clearly* weren’t best friends, something was missing. Seriously, I felt more connection between Blake and his father and Tina and her mother than between those two, and they were supposed to be the center of this story.
Steam: Meh.
Sensible Subjects:
Love Triangle:
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,065 followers
January 21, 2015
4 stars!

This had the makings of being a 5-star read for me until I hit the last 20% or so. But this is still so much better than what is currently saturating the New Adult market out there. And Courtney Milan can definitely write NA contemporary as well as she does HR. She has always had a distinctive voice, and it definitely shined in this book.

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who's trying to keep her head above water despite myriad familial responsibilities that stop her from enjoying her life. Blake Reynolds is the son of a billionaire, a wunderkid who enrolled himself in college despite his father's protests. Both of them had an interesting backstories. This is where Milan's writing shined the brightest. Tina and Blake are well drawn characters. I was shown the nuances of their personalities, the dynamics of their relationship with family and friends bit by bit and layer by layer. It made reading fun and easy when there's no clunky prose to impede it.

I liked Tina. She wasn't always likable but her struggles were relatable to me. Her being Asian is just a bonus to me. Her complicated relationship with her family was terrifyingly familiar to me because I live it everyday. I don't know if it's a cultural thing or it's just my family but reading it made me nostalgic.

Blake isn't your run-of-the-mill NA hero. No way. He's smart, funny and an all around good guy. I love his relationship with his dad. The Darth Vader reference made me laugh. Again, I wasn't just told about how loving their relationship is, I was shown how loving their relationship is. While that aspect gave me the fuzzies, these characters are very flawed. None more so than Blake's father. Seriously, I don't know whether to give this guy the father of the year award or the shittiest father award. Either way, I love his character.

So why not 5? Well, as much as I loved the writing and the characters, the romance was a bit of a let down. It's not that they are not romantic or anything, it's just that they are so good and capable individually that it wouldn't matter if they stay together or not. They'll survive anyway. Simply put, I wasn't as invested in their romance as I was in them individually. And since this is a romance book, I'm kind of bummed that their love didn't feel epic to me.

But I am holding out hope that it's going to turn epic in the next installments because I needed epic. Call me old fashioned but I just needed that in my romance books.

A copy was provided by Courtney Milan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,658 reviews3,255 followers
July 19, 2020
4.5 Art Imitating Life Stars
* * * * 1/2 Spoiler Free
Warning... This review is more about my love of Courtney Milan...The brief review is I loved the book.

I first learned of Courtney Milan because of The Siren and Tiffany Reisz. I was new to Goodreads, Romance, and Erotica. In my looking around for things to read, I had heard of this book The Siren... which lead me to the review by Ms. Milan(https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) which in turn led me to her.

The review made me just stop. I loved every part of it, how it told me about the book, the ideas put forth and so I looked into Ms. Milan and her books. The first one I read was The Governess Affair. I was into historical and this worked on so many levels. There was a scene to this day which was so sensual and sexy... it can come to you in passing and make you just stop to consider it all over again. The book was more than just that scene though, the way it addressed society and issues within the story was seamless...it all just worked.

So, I bring this up because, in this book, all of the research, attention to detail, and insight into the mind and human condition is here... wrapped up in a story about economic and cultural differences, about insecurities and the impact of our parents with their personalities and life experiences. All of these things color how we look at life, what we expect or want, and what is thrust on us...

We have two characters; both very intelligent, both with extremely intense parenting and both from opposite economic status. The blurb lays it out perfectly and we experience a story that was very raw in feelings but there was humor and care.

The representation of both families was strong each was different yet the same in their love of their kids... maybe demonstrated in another way... but just as fierce.

Each character went through their personal arc and came out the other end better and it was due to the relationship they had with the support and being there had weight.

There is just so much to the details of the story. I could read this again and get so much more out of it and that goes back to it being a Courtney Milan book. She addresses many questions about the story at the end giving us timelines and details which were informative, adding to the pleasure of the read. She is just wired that way.

This is a new series for her and more is coming. I will be ready.

Trade Me (Cyclone, #1) by Courtney Milan Trade Me (Cyclone, #1)
Hold Me (Cyclone, #2) by Courtney Milan Hold Me (Cyclone, #2)
The Year of the Crocodile (Cyclone, #2.5) by Courtney Milan The Year of the Crocodile (Cyclone, #2.5)
Find Me (Cyclone, #3) by Courtney Milan Find Me (Cyclone, #3)
What Lies Between Me and You (Cyclone, #3.5) by Courtney Milan What Lies Between Me and You (Cyclone, #3.5)
Keep Me (Cyclone, #4) by Courtney Milan Keep Me (Cyclone, #4)
Show Me (Cyclone, #5) by Courtney Milan Show Me (Cyclone, #5)

A gifted copy was provided by Victory Editing via NetGalley for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,881 followers
February 15, 2021
If you can accept a rather unrealistic premise, you'll soon find out that Trade me is a fantastic addition to the New Adult genre, without any of its regular fucked-ups (slut-shaming, stalkers, assholes, lack of diversity, giant dicks and their "it's not gonna fit!" *GASP*...). Both MCs are endearing and well-rounded, making it very easy to root for them : you have Tina, a Chinese-American student who refuses to lose her freedom and whose sarcasm is perfection ; and then Blake, a rich, smart heir who is struggling with an eating disorder, crushed under the weight of expectations. I loved them both, dearly. Recommended.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
June 18, 2018
I wanted to love this book because I love how realistic it is with its representation and romantic scenes. And it was really steamy and had a good build-up to the characters' relationship, but the entire plot surrounding it was SO messy. The actual plot of this book is nothing like the synopsis. The two main character supposedly trade places to get a taste of each other’s lives, but we quickly see that we’re only meant to care about Blake and his daddy issues and whether or not the poor privileged boy can take over his father’s company. I loved the representation of a male character with an eating disorder, but it felt side-lined as a character trait and not necessarily something that was integral to the story and it was completely forgotten about by the end of the book. The last quarter of the book is just random plot twists that don’t relate to the story whatsoever. Plus, the trajectory of the love story follows the cookie cutter mold of forbidden romance and wasn't intriguing at all.

The first half of this was great, but the second half was so cheesy and unrealistic and messy that I was skim up until the acknowledgments page. I think there’s a solid basis for a story here, but it just focused on really random selections of these characters’ lives and didn’t give us the full picture. It felt so incomplete, and the original plot of the book just dove off a cliff and in came in random side plots instead that were never wrapped up adequately.

The second book in this series is about a trans side character and i’m 100% here for her so I’m gonna try that out and hope the storyline doesn't dwindle like this one.
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews287 followers
January 23, 2015

I'm truly in the minority here with my rating. The good with this book is that for a NA, it was refreshing because it lacked the excessive drama and overused angst often seen in that sub-genre. There was no insta-love, the relationship between Tina and Blake was progressive and based on more than just lust. My favorite thing was the interracial coupling in this book ( Tina is Chinese, Blake is Caucasian ). In reality this is not even something that warrants attention. People of different backgrounds, cultures, races and creeds date and marry all the time. But from my experience in romance novels, this isn't the case. WHY? It's a normal thing that should really be reflected more in books, come on.

Anyways, the reasons for the low rating. The connection and chemistry between Tina and Blake wasn't very apparent for me. I couldn't connect with them as the book went on. In the beginning it was good, but as the story progressed something changed for me. The middle into the last third was a bit boring and then the whole 'this can't go on' dilemma felt forced and out of place. Where as that issue was obvious in the first part of the book, as Tina and Blake got more immersed in each other's lives it became a crutch and therefore lost its appeal.
The romance was there but again, it felt underdeveloped. By the end I found myself no longer invested in Tina's and Blake's story--although things end well--And I'm not interested in continuing the series. I do plan on reading this author's HR's, I've heard they're great.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,917 reviews33k followers
October 5, 2020
3.5 stars
“You’ve never been invisible to me. I saw you the first day we crossed paths, and I’ve been seeing you ever since.”

Trade Me is my first book by Courtney Milan and I really enjoyed it. Blake and Tina's story was sweet, steamy and had some important topics. There was so much I loved about this one and the audio was great. I never felt truly connected with the characters, so it was hard for me to really connect with the story, but overall it was still great and I'm glad I picked it up.

October Audible Escape listen #4
Rating: 3.5
Genre: Romance
Narrators: Xe Sands & Sean Crisden
Length: 7 hours and 45 minutes

Currently reading
May 5, 2023
This is one of my AAPI picks! I'm excited about this one because I've heard it provides an unusual spin on the typical billionaire romance AND the hero has an eating disorder (which you don't usually see talked about with men, even though men DO have it!). I'm so excited for this one ♥
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
June 14, 2015
Courtney Milan is known for writing unusual historical romance novels--the kind that make you swoon but also make you think. I love her historical fiction primarily because she writes about the types of female heroines no other author really feels comfortable discussing, whether it be the feminists, the scientists, the overly large, or those of different races. What's more, her male characters range from the classic duke to the a-typical male virgin to the self-proclaimed male suffragist. Thus, I knew Trade Me was going to be a treat even before I cracked open its spine because--Courtney Milan.

But Trade Me surpassed even my wildest expectations. Built upon the foundation of a relatively flimsy plot line--wealthy young man volunteers to switch lives with a poor immigrant woman--Trade Me does a brilliant job of pointing out not only the privileges of the wealthy, but also of the non-immigrant. It features an Asian protagonist and is one of the first times that I have been able to sympathize completely with a character due to her life circumstances--immigrant parents who don't fit into the American culture, a series of different traditional values, struggling to make ends meet, missing family members who live oversees. And, honestly, I found the entire experience shocking and eye-opening. How was Trade Me, published in January of 2015, the first time I had been able to relate to the immigrant experience in a YA or NA novel? It made me angry but, most of all, it made me grateful to Courtney Milan for doing her research and being brave enough to write about a culture of people different from her own.

Beyond the in-your-face diversity of an Asian protagonist, though, Milan weaves this love story through many complex issues. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal much more due to fear of spoilers, but none of these characters are what they seem on the surface--and I love that. Admittedly, the whole "the rich have problems, too!" trope seems cliche but, I promise you, Milan writes it in such a way that you never find yourself thinking that way. If you're looking for a couple to swoon over, but one that will destroy your every pre-conceived notion about them, Trade Me is the book for you.
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,321 reviews285 followers
August 18, 2020
This is one Courtney Milan I wasn't late to. I read it near its release, I just didn't remember. I think there's a few reasons why. What could've been a beautiful thing was weighed down with angst and nearly free of Courtney Milan humor. While it features nearly convincing conversations on privilege, its ultimate conflict was
"We will hurt each other if we are together."

And most unusual, it features a male protagonist with an eating disorder. I mean, there's good stuff, but the execution wasn't particularly engaging overall. You could tell it was Milan, but it was also not her finest output by a mile.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 150 books37.5k followers
January 26, 2015
A fast-reading, involving spicy romance with humor and a whole lot of realistic angst about being poverty-stricken--and the workaholic rich.

Ordinarily I'm suspicious of romances with billionaires, but this one, with its "trading places" twist, was way better than most--Tina Chen, the poor girl, who switches places with wealthy Blake Reynolds, holds her own. In fact, I thought the best conversation in the entire book was when she met Blake's dad Adam (think a bearable Donald Trump crossed with Steve Jobs) and takes him apart.

Also loved that it was set in the present. I really enjoy this author's prose and characters and pacing, but the historicals are hard for me to read because I keep getting poked out by all the historical errors. Historical paradigm, language, and detail is totally off the table here, letting me sink right in.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,208 reviews19.7k followers
November 22, 2017
[3.5] What made this book wasn't even the romance. It was the fact that it discussed immigration and the suffering families have to go through, poverty and privileges. I love that a NA book was discussing such heavy topics in pretty great detail and basing the romance around that story arc.

But speaking of the romance, it wasn't necessarily that well developed for me. Or believable. I was half-heartedly rooting for them. I loved them as individuals (strong, outspoken, determination, great family dynamic), not as a couple though.
Profile Image for -ya.
518 reviews64 followers
February 28, 2015
I moved this book to my top-tbr only because I was very curious about Courtney Milan’s approach to this genre. Honestly the key words “sexy billionaire” in the blurb could just cut the level of my enthusiasm for Trade Me in half!

Is Blake a possessive, six-pack man-whore?
Absolutely not! Blake character surprised me. A nerdy gentleman. I love this character.

“One of these days, though,” Blake tells his father, “she’s going to realize that I think the sun rises on her smile.”

Tina doesn't take risk.

Friendship with Blake is not safe. It’s not even Facebook safe. ...I always play safe. What choice have I had?

In Trade Me, there are no traces of cheating ass%, love triangle/rectangle, bitches on campus, girl gone wild, and ridiculous misunderstanding. The story has a good mix of culture difference, humor, angst and family issues-

We are all mortal.
We all have family problem no matter what race we are, or what ethnic background we have.
Love is an universal language.

Refreshing storyline and characters. Courtney Milan's first new adult novel delivered.

arc provided by Victory Editing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you ^-^

# steamy # no cheesy dialogue # stand-alone # like the ending

Profile Image for Steelwhisper.
Author 5 books403 followers
January 18, 2016

This is a story which has "intentions". It's written to fit an agenda, and unfortunately it is so preachy and OTT that I fail to understand all those positive reviews.

This is not a feminist book, at least not according to how I understand feminism. The male MC is so clearly invented and unbelievable as to be super-exasperating. And the Asian (we are never allowed for a second to not notice her being Asian!) female MC Is as bad a klutz and as insecure - at the end of the day - as Bella. The two had no chemistry with each other whatsoever. The unbelievability and OTTness of the MCs spilled over to the secondary characters, to the point that they as well were very unbelievable.

Things I explicitly disliked: how the author pandered to NA stereotypes, such as first person present tense, or that the MC had to have allegedly smart (but instead just smart-alecky) tattoos. I dislike when authors are so clearly trying to ingratiate themselves.

What was worst, though, is that plot and narration bored me to distraction. I was fighting falling asleep. And ended up checking the author again, because ... you know ... I actually LIKE Courtney Milan, except for when she is writing to push an agenda.
Profile Image for KatLynne.
547 reviews564 followers
March 1, 2015
3.5 Stars!

There are many things I very much enjoyed about this tale, first and foremost being Courtney Milan’s clever writing as well as the unique plot. She’s incredibly talented and as with her highly successful Historicals, her foray into the Contemporary genre has produced a well written, well researched story.

However, I missed the chemistry between Blake and Tina. I didn't feel the deep, romantic connection that I find in Milan's historicals.

All in all, an intriguing read with a well written plot...
760 reviews131 followers
April 21, 2015
2 Stars

5% in...


30% in...good going


75% in...


95% in....


This is what you call taking a completely awesome book, having realistic down-to-earth unique characters with an original plot and....well falling flat. What in the hell was that last 15% ?? Cheesy unrealistic fillers. Was it the same author who wrote the first half of the book ?? The conversations became so forced.

The romance during the whole book was underdeveloped, but the character driven plot was awesome enough to overshadow that. But it seemed in the ending the author just somehow wanted to wrap everything up and get the 2 characters together. Things started getting a tad bit ridiculous for me. Had the same things happened in other books, I would have looked the other way, but in this book? Where things were based on a realistic world ? No way.

Really, really disappointing.
Profile Image for Michelle [Helen Geek].
1,772 reviews403 followers
January 27, 2015
01/25/2015 --

2nd attempt. DNF at about 50%. I should have stopped at the first chapter, but kept plugging away. I really didn't like the h. She was nattering on about a lucky white cashmere sweater and then **splash** it is a mess. She has real issues with the clock and the whole time she is nattering on and on about the looks she and the driver of the **splash** offender have exchanged in class ... BLAH!

Knew then I should just give it up then, but kept at it until I just couldn't anymore. I read NA. TONS of NA. I had high hopes. This just isn't very good.

So .. why do authors do this to themselves? They do a wonderful job in a genre that they really enjoy. Why change? Leave a good thing alone.

This is a 1 Star book. Just not good and don't feel like I can do more than that even if it is a DNF. I could skim to the end, but what would that prove?

I hope you have better luck with this one.

Happy Reading!

ARC provided by Victory Editing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,524 followers
August 12, 2017
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders

Today I am presenting you with a book I read in one sitting. ONE. Granted, I had no internet to distract me, but it’s still a lot for me. That almost never happens and that’s how hooked to the book I was. I was so invested I couldn’t put it down.  Trade Me was such an adorable, fun and sometimes very serious ride.

Not gonna lie, the writing took me by surprise, I always expect NA writing to be just… there but this was really smooth and beautiful, while staying on the simple side. It is also personal –meaning both MCs have distinct voices that you can’t possibly mix up- as well as charged with emotions.

I loved the romance, I really did, so so much and part of the reason is because I could relate with some of the heroine’s action and most of the tension came from that. There was also a lot of chemistry going on between the two and the banter is easy and funny, the conversation flows easily with angst when angst is needed, serious talk when that is needed and fun and playfulness when those are needed. In my opinion, it was a perfect balance between all those things. AND THE TEXTS !! I lived for those little bits of conversation because they actually revealed a lot about their relationship towards the beginning than live interactions since they let themselves be vulnerable behind screens. One last bit about the romance, IT HAS A BIT OF FAKE DATING, it’s not the whole plot but it happens towards the beginning.

Tina is me in so many ways. Okay, in one way: the “can’t get hurt, can’t get distracted so I flee” way hah. No, but joke aside, Tina is a Chinese-american girl who grew up/is still poor and although I can’t speak for how accurate that rep is, all I can say is that poverty wasn’t just mentioned and brushed aside, it influenced most if not all her decisions and how she went about things. She’s really smart and pragmatic, and I really loved that about her, as well as the fact that she doesn’t let anyone step on her, she stands up for herself and doesn’t shy away from expressing her opinions loud and clear even when she’s hella scared inside.

Blake, sweet sweet Blake and how I adored him. He’s an asshole appearing billionaire but once he opens his mouth, you see how big of a dork he is and how he is down to earth and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s also cocky but not the insufferable kind but the sweet kind that makes you grin. What was different from the usual boy meets girl is that he noticed her MONTHS before they talked and has been crushing on her ever since and that was so adorable to read from his POV it just made me melt into a puddle.

Something I really appreciated about Trade Me is how wholesome of a story it is. It’s main focus is for sure the romance but the characters have side stories of their own, with relationships that Milan doesn’t fail to show and exploit the dynamics of.  Even the side characters leavve a lasting impression because of how well fleshed out they are. Especially Blake’s father, Adam, he’s such a brilliant asshole and that was so entertaining to read, I couldn’t get enough of the guy who teaches little kids to curse in his son’s class, a son that he loves above all and he isn’t afraid to show it. This isn’t the busy father who doesn’t make time for his kid trope, this is the father that drops everything and makes his kid his priority.

The little I got to read about Maria –Tina’s best friend- I loved and I can’t wait to get to book 2 to learn all about her and see her have her own cute romance and see how that one plays out.
Profile Image for Vaneesha.
126 reviews132 followers
July 17, 2016
Sometimes when you read a book, against all odds, these letters that form words that form sentences that form pages of a story CAPTURE you - they affect you, and you truly feel it. That was the case with Trade Me. I can't quite articulate it and I wish I could. But this book felt personal; it resonated. I laughed, I cried (I ACTUALLY 100% CRIED), I even got a lil hot (if you know what I mean). It had it all. I am thrilled that I ignored the sort of iffy reviews and decided to read it regardless.

(It is my birthday weekend & I have spent it reading, but now I have to go engage in social activities or else I will find myself friendless - I will come back to finish this review later, please stay tuned!)
Profile Image for Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Author 29 books2,545 followers
February 9, 2016
1) This book was filled with subject matter that should have triggered me right into therapy, but Milan handled each topic so well I couldn't wait to turn the page instead of DNFinh onto the next thing.

2) This is how you write a billionaire romance.
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews247 followers
December 19, 2015
3.5 Stars

Arc provided by Victory Editing through Netgalley

TW's: Eating Disorder and Drug abuse

Full disclosure: New Adult is not my favourite literary genre. To put it mildly.
However, since this was written by author Courtney Milan, I decided to risk it, and request an arc.

Thankfully I was approved, because in a way this story almost restored my faith in the genre.
The reason for that "almost" is that for almost eighty percent of the book, I was pretty much loving it.

In fact this was promising to be a solid four star rating. However in the last part _and true to the New Adult genre _ things became a little too much. The drama start piling, and the "you've got to be kidding me" situations seemed to have taken permanent residence in the story.

The positives

They're many and they're varied.

There's a reason I normally don't read books that feature the word millionaires or billionaires (Okay I admit that I read "fifty" a long, long time ago, because everyone was talking about it, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!What was the fuss about? O_O) and that is, because I HATE controlling, manipulative bastards that think that the world is theirs because they have money.
Blake is not one of those characters: He's actually a sweet, caring, non abusive guy.
I loved the way the author wrote him. His personality and the fact that he's not presented as perfect, makes of him a great leading character.

Then there's Xingjuan/Tina Cheng...

Tina is of Chinese nationality, although we don't get a lot of psychical descriptions of her.
That "per se", _she being Chinese, not the lacking descriptions_ is great when most leading characters today are given to Caucasian girls.
Bonus points to the author for this.

Tina is a strong, non-bullshit kind of girl. She is not your average simpering Miss, and she doesn't apologize for that.

More Diversity In characters

Besides Tina, there's Maria, Tina's best friend, who is a transwoman, and who is going to be the leading character of the next book in the series. And yes, I definitely want to read it.
Once again the fact that Tina is not alone in this story, that she does have a girl friend to whom she can turn to, is a big yes on the "positives" side.

Blake has a problem..
And it's one that I had never read about concerning a guy.
I loved _not that he had the problem! _, but the fact that this was something different from what I am used to reading. It made him more human.

The secondary characters
Are all well developed and they never felt as they were only there to fill pages.

The writing

This is Courtney Milan we're talking about people, so of course it's more than good.

The negatives

I read the whole book including the section in which the author explains why she didn't want to develop the problem with Blake's eating disorder, basically because that wasn't what the book was all about...however, as a reader, I can't help feeling that approaching such a sensible subject needed "more"...something.

After Tina helps Blake to admit that he needs specialized help, that subject feels a little resolved, and that felt wrong.

Okay I know that in reality his problem isn't resolved. He has the therapist and nutritionist to prove it, but after a moment, everything starts escalating in his life, and I didn't feel that his reaction the the upcoming stress was viable. Not with his problem.
It felt a little too...neat.

Besides this point, all I can say is that I honestly felt that with Blake's "issue", and with him being who he is, and Tina being who she was, that the story didn't need more drama....something that ends up happening with a vengeance.

However I do have some serious prejudices against what I feel as an over-abuse of that...."activity"_drama drama drama_, so maybe other people _knowing that is is a New Adult book _ will have a different reaction to the story's last part.

The thing is, I have to remember _if I want to be fair _ that for most of this story I was really loving reading it, and wondering if this would be published in paperback....and I definitely want to follow the series, so I'll compromise with a three and half star rating.

What about you?
Have you already read it?

Profile Image for Ellie.
827 reviews173 followers
August 28, 2015
Not your typical NA. It's very character focused story where the romance was not as strong/central as I would have liked. The final 20% were unexpected and a bit over-the-top. Still, it's a great start to a new NA series, well written and elaborate, just as Ms Milan's historical romances!

Full review is also posted on my blog, Ellie Reads Fiction

I love Ms Milan historical romances and when I heard she was writing a contemporary, I was curious to read it asap. Now, when I saw the blurb that the hero is a billionaire CEO, I almost gave up and didn't in the end. I'm really glad I gave this story a chance.

This is a NA college romance with the typical college student inner turmoil, angst and all but at the same time it's so much more. The characters are refreshingly unique - Tina is Chinese and Blake is white.

I very much appreciated their complexity and how they both were faced in difficult and not-your-everyday issues in their lives. There is no insta love but a slowly growing romance. I got annoyed a bit at some point of both them being so focused their arrangement having an expiration date. Tina was way too stubborn in denying her feelings, denying herself the chance for something good coming into her life. Blake was more honest with himself as regards how he felt about Tina but he was crippled by indecision and and guilt and shame. I wanted them to act, to take the risk and go with their hearts.

The story presents interesting family dynamics between Blake and his father on the one side and between Tina and her family on the other. Both parents loved their children deeply and sincerely but that didn't save them from making terrible mistakes and causing pains to those that you loved the most. All the family interactions felt so real - funny and intimate, traditional and modern at the same time. My only complaint is that I found the big secret about Blake's dad a bit out of place and unrealistic, though it's not a major issue for me.

Blake was really a great hero - his problem was hinted from the start but the suspense was kept well into to story and I'm glad that Ms Milan chose this particular issue to highlight. It's not a very common weakness for male characters in fiction (I haven't read any other stories with this premise) but I guess it does happen in real life and it's great to see it reflected in fiction.

It's a very character focused story. The romance element is a bit weak and focus is rather on the characters growth and the way the deal with their issues. I wish things between Tina and Blake were explored with more depth but we will be seeing more of them in the next books in the series and I hope this deficiency will be made up for.

The dialogue was funny and quick-witted which is a trademark feature of Ms Milan's characters. It balanced quite nicely the seriousness of the characters' struggles and their deep introspective musings.

The story touched in so many interesting issues - life and culture of Chinese immigrants in the US, high-tech innovative design - it made a truly entertaining and informative reading.

Another intriguing aspect was Tina's best friend and roommate, Maria. She will be the heroine in the next book in the series and her background makes me really excited for her story.

The final 20% of the story didn't work that well for me. Some of the things felt forced, the I-love-you confession felt out of character for both Tina and Blake. I've already mentioned the incident with Blake's dad and the way I felt it too didn't fit well with the story so far.

A well-written, well-researched, moving story of two young people discovering themselves and coming together in a passionate and soulful relationship. I'd recommend it to all fans of contemporary romance, even those like me who are weary of New Adult stories. Go ahead and give it a try, you will be nicely surprised!
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
May 27, 2018

Trade Me has to be one of the most interesting books I have read, from the concept of literally trading lives to the whole technology part to the mental health representations throughout. It was honestly so engaging that I finished it in a day. Courtney Milan is now an author I desperately need to read more, especially with her excellently diverse casts. I am just so excited to have read this book.

What is Trade Me by Courtney Milan about? This series is focused on the employees/people who surround Cyclone Technologies which is a company that creates gadgets very similar to Apple – but better from the sounds of it. Tina Chen just wants her degree, a job and to be able to stop worrying about her parents. Tina and her parents immigrated from China to America after her father was tortured for practising Falun Gong. Immigration is a difficult procedure and since the Chen family gained citizenship Tina’s mum has taken it upon herself to help absolutely everyone gaining citizenship. She has no qualms about giving them all the small amount of money the family has. This has Tina stressed frequently, as a college student living out of the home she tries to send money home so at least her younger sister gets her medication. Her life is hard and there is no hope of it getting better until she’s a doctor. Blake’s life is very different. He owns shares of his father’s company Cyclone and he flaunts it. He works at the company, he’s not a slacker, but he doesn’t know how hard Tina’s life is. He is going through his own problems, after the death of his father’s best friend and co-owner of the company. The switching of lives for the pair of them comes with a bigger favour for Tina, mainly that she will be getting fifteen grand each month she allows Blake to live out her life. The two find unlikely love in each other, despite how stubborn Tina is. The pair gives each other a different insight and honestly, it was so beautiful.

There was just so much to this story that I know I’m not going to be able to list everything or even truly explain what this book meant to me. I’m going to keep this review as short as I can but I can’t scream my highest praise for this book enough.

I just loved this story. Time to get into what my likes and dislikes are for Trade Me by Courtney Milan.


This plot was so incredible to me. I sincerely enjoyed absolutely every element of this book (bar the miscommunication of the end). The biggest part I related to was Tina’s responsibility she felt for her family financially. It’s definitely something I feel in my family, my mum and sister don’t save and I constantly have to make up the money. It was interesting to see something like this in a new adult book and I honestly feel like it was well done, which is even better.

Courtney Milan truly crafted an exciting story that I was pulled in to so quickly.


This is a relatively short book, but all the characters are so fleshed out. There is so much depth to every character, even the side characters! I mean, there weren’t many side characters but everyone had a unique personality that was able to shine throughout this short novel. The author has a real talent for writing and I am so excited to read more about these characters in her other books.


I don’t have much to say here, I really just think poverty was shown realistically throughout this novel. The biggest shining point was when Tina treated herself to a mango and classed it as a luxurious purchase. My family is doing better now but there was a time I cried at bananas being in the house because I was so happy. For me, this was incredibly realistic and well done.


FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS AGAIN. I AM SO HAPPY. I AM BLESSED. Honestly though, Tina and her best friend Maria. The pair is so supportive of each other and I just adored it.

If you want another reason to read this book (honestly, why wouldn’t you? I feel I’m selling this well) Maria is a trans-woman.


I really just wanted more. When the book ended with a bit of a mess I was flicking through my kindle hunting for more. I was so disappointed when the page flickered and it was over! This story was just such a nice treat that made me laugh, smile and cry. I was fully on the edge of my seat and the care of which things are dealt with are incredible. I liked that an eating disorder for a male character was incorporated because there is such a stigma with men and eating disorders. I liked that Blake and his father had a great relationship. I liked that Tina had such a great relationship with her family (though I wish we had gotten more interactions with her mum). I just want more of this story and I can’t wait to read more.

Overall, I think I’ve made it clear I really liked Trade Me by Courtney Milan. It’s a book I am definitely going to highly recommend and one I think anyone can read, even if romance isn’t your genre. There was just so many things I liked about this book that I can’t even articulate it. I am just struggling so hard.
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