Reviewed by May
Tina Chen wants to graduate college and get a job that makes enough money so that she (and her parents) can stop worrying about having enough money for rent and basic bills each month. While he may seem like he has it all, billionaire Blake Reynolds has his own problems and getting in a classroom argument with Tina gives him an idea.
What if they were to trade? What if Tina took over Blake’s responsibilities with the next product launch and lived in his home, while he tried living in her shoes. It would just be for a few weeks, and he’d be willing to pay Tina enough to cover her expenses for the rest of her time at college. What does she have to lose?
I am not a reader of the YA or NA , but I will make exceptions if an author I know and have complete faith in ventures into those genres. Courtney Milan has never disappointed me with her historical novels, so I decided to take a leap of faith and discover just what has her so inspired that she made such a big genre leap.
Milan delivers us a very poor Chinese immigrant heroine (they came to California when she was about six) that lives in a barely converted garage with a roommate. The billionaire boy I figured would be typical – he’s not. He has a serious problem/secret and he hides it pretty well. Not just that, but while he enjoys a life of privilege he also acknowledges it. He somehow manages to be humble and kind and so very likable.
“We’re not friends. We’re not Facebook friends. We’re not anything.”
I watch his eyes as I speak. They don’t flicker, not one bit. Not with disappointment, not with hope.
“Subject to reevaluation,” he says finally, “if-“
I can’t let myself leave that door open. Through it will come hope, fear, and worry. But there is no hope. None. “Subject to nothing.” I stare up at him and set my hands on my hips.
“I can’t afford ifs.”
With these characters, really all I needed was scenes with them having wonderful conversations full of interesting dialogue. They take turns as the story narrator, and I really enjoyed seeing things progress with both perspectives. Their lives are full of problems and hopes and issues to work on. I didn’t need much else – although the premise of them trying out each other’s lives was a wonderful way to both get them talking, and to help them find some common ground.
Both characters are given very real problems, and are written in a way that feels extremely authentic. They have real and loving relationships that are imperfect and changing. They have their own insecurities and worries, not to mention when they look ahead and think of the future.
Blake is worried about the new product launching (his idea), his relationship with his father, and living up to expectations of that world. He’s mourning the loss of a dear friend (his father’s second in command) and he has no idea how to deal with the issues he’s facing. He doesn’t want to simply run away from his life, and yet he does.
Tina worries over her activist mother and tries to keep the heat on and the rent paid for her parents as well as herself. She knows to the penny how much money she has and takes nothing for granted. Her entire goal of college is to get a good job so she can make money and take care of all of them. The interactions between Tina and her mother are wonderful – they really show Tina learning and growing – and their relationship develops so beautifully.
I appreciated not only their struggles, but also how real she made these people, and how much respect she showed for each of her characters. They have an immediate attraction and it made sense to me that Tina was more reluctant. The characters are also navigating family and school friends, which really brought a beautiful richness to the story.
It is because of this character depth and development that the ending was a bit off to me. Things get pretty wild – expect the unexpected – and it was entertaining and exciting. I just found myself wishing that instead of a showy finale we had more time with these characters as a couple, or just something that wasn’t quite so out of pace with the rest of the book.
This is a “happy for now” type book – expect more in this series including Tina’s best friend/roommate (a trans heroine!) and another book for Tina and Blake. Courtney Milan got me to venture into NA for this new series, and I will definitely be back. I’m not sure anyone has done a billionaire and the poor girl story this uniquely in a long time – if ever! Well done – definitely one to check out.