Last weekend I asked twitterverse for recs on billionaire books that had zero bdsm in them. Because seriously, I’m kind of over that trope. I just can’t deal with the alpha male gazillionaire with the private room full of spanking benches and ben-wa balls anymore. One of the recommendations I received (from several people) was for Courtney Milan’s new NA contemporary featuring the two students at Berkley. So I went and read the blurb and was couldn’t hit my request button fast enough.
Blurb on Goodreads:
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.
Tina and Blake have their first run-in when Blake speeds through the parking lot, completely oblivious to the woman hurrying toward her first class, and sprays dirty water all over her effectively ruining her day and her lucky sweater. Now this may seem like just a thoughtless act that’s not such a big deal, but this white, clean, free of stains, expensive sweater bought for next to nothing represents hope for a young woman trying to battle her way through tough times and set back after set back. So it’s no surprise that in class when the privileged son of a billionaire weighs in on what it means to be poor that Tina speaks up and puts in him in his place. What does he know about being poor? He couldn’t last even a month walking in her shoes.
Blake has noticed the beautiful woman in his class, but it’s not until she challenges him that he starts to think this might be a way for him to get away from his life. He has a big problem he won’t talk to his father about and a very real fear of taking over the business his father built into a billion dollar powerhouse in competition with the likes of Apple and Microsoft. He spends all his time running away from his fears. Running to school to get out of stepping into his father’s shoes and running the streets for hours instead of talking about and dealing his problem. Maybe taking over Tina’s life will give him more time to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
First off, I adored both Blake and Tina. Blake is a billionaire who doesn’t have any hidden rooms or stalker tendencies and does not beat his chest every second in that alpha know it all way thinking he knows better than Tina. He’s off the charts intelligent, has an affectionate (if slightly colorful and curse filled) relationship with his father and a believable back story about how he actually became a billionaire. Seriously, thank you Courtney Milan for that, because I can’t tell you how amusing I find this billionaire in romance trend, it’s like I had no idea there were so many. ANYWAY, Blake is also vulnerable and looking for a way to avoid his responsibilities. Enter in Tina Chen. Tina is literally just scraping by every month. Do you know how to make $9.00 last for two weeks until payday? Well, she does. Tina lives in a converted garage whose breakers flip every time she runs more than one appliance at a time, shops at goodwill and worries every single day of her life over her little sister’s medicine and her parent’s electricity bill. She’s strong and smart and about to see how the other side lives when she accepts Blake’s offer to trade lives.
As much as I enjoyed the main protagonists and the group of friends and family surrounding them, I think the thing I appreciated most in this new adult romance was how genuine the conflict felt. These are two people from completely different life circumstances and experiences who slowly and gently fall into friendship and then love. These two are worrying about money, cultural and economic differences, Blake’s “problem” and Tina’s fear of getting into a relationship; they really didn’t need anything else. I appreciated the fact that there wasn’t a bunch of cheating and jealousy thrown in to amp up the tension. There was a moment toward the end that had me sitting back wondering what was going on. It threw me a bit, wondering where it came from and why this had to be the thing that brought them together. It wasn’t something that ruined this romance for me, it just felt strange. Out of place. Does that make sense?
The romance and sex are definitely lower key than in other NA romances I’ve read, but it worked for me as I enjoyed the relationship that develops between Blake and Tina. Blake’s father almost steals the show and is sure to be a fan favorite when he finally gets his story. Next up is Tina’s roommate and best friend, Maria, which I’m very much looking forward to. Final Grade- B
“Love is never safe,” Tina repeats. “It’s weird. It’s magical. It’s the moment when you break through the dark shell that protects your heart and say, this, this person. I’m going to let this person in, let him come so close that he can hurt me more than I can possibly imagine. I’m going to let him hurt me.” She inhales. “Love is never safe.”
“And yet,” I say, “we do it anyway.”
“We do it anyway.” Her voice is a quiet echo of mine, but her hands close on mine.