Pages: 280 in PB although I read the Kindle vcrsion
Time taken: ~3 hours (does anyone actually time these? I read about 100 pages per hour or the average book, I just guess based on that.)
Tina Chen has a loving but disorganised family, a job in a library, two majors, and a room-mate. Blake Reynolds has a loving but asshole father, a job at a high-tech company, one major, and $1.4billion (US). An argument over food-stamps and the reality of living in poverty in the US leads Blake to offer Tina to swap lives for the rest of the semester: she deals with the product launch he’s supposed to be working on, and he lives her life, working minimum-wage jobs, sending money home, and living in squalor. There is indeniable chemistry between them, but can two people who come from such opposite worlds really be compatible?
Spoiler alert: dur, of course they can, this is a romance novel. We do not read these because we wish our hearts shattered into tiny pieces. Milan has made her career out of writing thoughtful, strong heroines hooking up with thoughtful, flawed heroes, while adding enough social commentary to satisfy my Social Justice Elementalist heart (if you don’t know what that means, good for you, it’s for the best right now), and this fits right in, albeit with fewer descriptions of clothes, which I personally missed. I like purple prose. It makes me happy. I like fabrics. (Also corsets. Big goth right here.)
I’ve seen this described as New Adult, which I guess it is, given the relative youth of the protagonists and smexy times combination. It certainly annoyed me less than the YA stuff I read last year and neglected to review – apparently I like my heroines to be either out of their teens, or on an obvious Hero’s Journey/Coming Of Age type thing, which I suppose makes me either terribly boring or nearly 33 and hence very tired of teenagers. Or both. I can only take introspection so far.
What the book does really, really well is the thing I am going to term SPOILERS REDACTED. Unfortunately I can give very little information about my approval of said SPOILERS REDACTED, on account of having to redact the spoilers. I thought it was handled sensitively and well, although I pegged it from the moment it appeared so it neither came as a surprise nor was a slow build-up. Still, not everyone has my experience or knowledge of SPOILERS REDACTED, and I suspect it would be a harder-hitting storyline for people without such knowledge.
The stuff that went less well for me was the social commentary stuff. There wasn’t enough of it, for my angry socialist liberal European money. I suspect (I am suspicious, apparently) that it’s much more geared towards American sensibilities, which are very different even if no-one seems to notice most of the time, and I don’t want to get too much into a critique of that here because I will inevitably be kind of rude. Or outright rude. I mentioned the angry socialist liberal European thing, right? Suffice it to say that I very much approve of the message and agenda contained within this part of the novel, but I felt that it had a very light touch and could have used more exposition and discussion between Tina and Blake. YMMV.
4 stars: will definitely get the other books, would like more corsetry and/or social justice. Recommended to everyone old enough to read porn.
Cross-posted to my own blog here which will have more on the SPOILERS REDACTED and social commentary stuff.