Tag: Courtney Milan

Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Trade Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: Cyclone #1
Also in this series: Trade Me, Hold Me
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 279
Length: 7 hours and 45 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

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.

Trade Me is the first book in Courtney Milan’s Cyclone series. I enjoy her historicals, but mixed reviews put me off reading this series when it was released (not to mention my own misgivings about authors who switch from historical to contemporary coughJulieGarwoodcough). When I saw it in the Audible Escape package, I decided to give it a try. Xe Sands narrated, and though I struggled with it in the beginning, I came to really enjoy the way she read the story.

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who is barely getting by. Between her own needs and trying to help her family out, she’s living under the constant strain of not having enough money. When golden boy Blake Reynolds, the son of a billionaire, makes an offhand comment about the “poor” in one of her classes, Tina snaps back at him. To her surprise, Blake offers her a trade – she can move into his house and live with his money, and he’ll take on her responsibilities. The catch? She’ll have to act as his girlfriend so his father doesn’t find out about their trade. Tina is torn, but the money is hard to turn down.

Blake is dealing with his own struggles, and having money isn’t making them any easier. He hopes this time away from his life will give him the chance to get things back under control. But he’s finding that Tina is better for him than he ever imagined. As they spend time together, they realize some of their secrets are easy to get past..while others may break them.

I really liked both Tina and Blake. The blurb made them sound more hostile than they were. It wasn’t so much “You could NEVER live my life”/”YES I CAN”, but more “you don’t understand”/”let me try”, which I actually appreciated more. I liked that both Blake and Tina had their own struggles. One might say the adage “money can’t buy happiness” applies here, but so does “..but it sure would help.”.

I enjoyed the romance and how these two came to care for each other as they got to know one another as their secrets were slowly revealed. This is where the novel truly shines for me. Tina and Blake were such an unlikely pair, yet their formed a true, strong connection that came across very vividly. They truly became friends, which made their jump into romance easy to believe.

I really liked Adam and Blake’s relationship, and the love/embarrassment struggle Tina had with her parents. Family ties can be both a blessing and a curse, and I think Milan really showcased that here. The love, pressure, guilt and happiness came through so well, I really connected with both Tina and Blake in this area.

Overall this was a great story with flawed, multi-faceted characters. Though I struggled with the ending, I can’t deny this was a smart novel and I really enjoyed the depth of the characters.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Cyclone

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2
Also in this series: Unlocked (Turner, #1.5)

Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Hold Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 14, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Hold Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Tracy
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
Series: Cyclone #2
Also in this series: Trade Me, Trade Me
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 25th 2016
Format: eARC
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…

Maria is looking forward to seeing her brother who’s been living in Switzerland.  He’s running late so tells her where to go on the Berkley campus to meet him.  He tells her to ask for his friend Jay and wait there.  Of course when Maria, who is a girly-girl from head to spiked-heeled toe knocks on Jay’s lab door she gets confronted with an asshole.  The guy is rude and assumes that she’s an empty-headed bimbo because of the way she dresses.  Maria gives him shit for it – especially after she finds out that the man is Jay, her brother’s friend.

Jay is fascinated by Maria.  He sooooo doesn’t want to be but he is.  She gives him shit constantly – that he thoroughly deserves, not that he knows that – and he actually likes sparring with her despite the fact he thinks she’s a huge distraction for her brother and his work.

Maria has been texting a guy, who goes by the name Actual Physicist, for the past year and a half.  He is kind and funny and really gets her – he knows her as Em.  She hasn’t shared any personal info with him and he hasn’t shared any with her.  Despite that she’s got extreme feelings for the guy.  When she alludes to them meeting she’s shut down but eventually they decide to talk on the phone.  Before that can happen, however, Maria and Jay figure out that they are Em and Actual Physicist and the shit hits the fan.  Can they reconcile their current hate relationship with the one they have via text and meet somewhere in the middle or is it too late?

When I first started reading this book I honestly hated Jay.  He was such a douche! Judgmental and holier-than-thou – omg I just wanted to slap the boy! I loved how Maria put him in his place and didn’t take his shit.  He did grow on me somewhat later in the book but unfortunately for Jay I never really liked him all that much.  He turned out to be pretty nice in the end but still…I couldn’t forget the earlier Jay.

Maria, for all of her outer confidence, has some serious abandonment issues.  Her parents had kicked her out of the house when she was 12 years old because she’s transgender.  She went to live with her very catholic grandmother and wasn’t sure what to expect when she knocked on her door.  Her reaction to Maria was one of my favorite parts of the book – she totally accepted her with open arms.  Maria asked her grandmother that night if she thought God could make her into a girl, if that was the kind of miracle he did.  Her grandmother’s response was, “I think he already did.” Cue tears and blubbering.  I just love that so much! Go grandma! Ahem. Anyway, back on track…by the time this book is written Maria is post-surgery but she still lives with what her parents did and she can’t seem to think that Jay wouldn’t someday leave her for one reason or another.  I can understand her thinking as what her parents did was harsh, believe me.  I guess I just wish that I had known that the book was more about the abandonment issues than it was the hating each other thing – although that did play a huge part as well.  IDK, it was almost like the story was split into two different parts and I found that a bit disconcerting.

Anyway, the book was good and had some really great parts to it.  Though I didn’t like it as much as book one (mostly because of Jay) I still enjoyed it thoroughly and I’m looking forward to book three in the series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted January 28, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Trade Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Tracy
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Series: Cyclone #1
Also in this series: Hold Me, Trade Me

Publication Date: January 20th 2015
Format: eARC
Genres: New Adult
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

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 Systems. 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.

Tracy’s review of Trade Me )Cyclone #1) by Courtney Milan

Tina works hard to provide for herself and for her family. That’s difficult when she has to pay rent, go to college (pre-med) and work on top of that. It’s doubly frustrating when her mother tends to give away the money Tina sends because she feels that the other people are in greater need. Tina is attracted to Blake but is a bit disgusted with him and what she thinks of as his lavish and lazy lifestyle. Blake starts a conversation with Tina after a “discussion” in one of their classes takes place and as much as she doesn’t want to admit she’s starting to like the billionaire, she does have a crush on him.

Blake has a problem that he’s unwilling to share with his father. He loves his father dearly but he feels like he can’t share this particular problem with him. Blake is afraid of disappointing his father and ends up trying to fix it himself by trading lives with Tina. He thinks if he gets out of the billionaire lifestyle that will help him. Tina doesn’t think that Blake is serious but he definitely is. She quits her job and stays at Blake’s place along with “earning” the money he normally spends in a months time.  She also has to help write a script for an upcoming release of an item that Blake’s dads company is coming out with – easier said than done. While working on the script and communicating about their lives, the pair actually end up becoming friends and then so much more.

I really enjoyed this contemporary book by Milan. She had me pulled into the story from almost minute one and I couldn’t put the book down. There were so many things that I liked about the book – from the writing to the relationship Blake had with his father…strange as it was. I thought Blake was a really good guy and loved his personality. My heart broke for him and the problem that he focused so much of his life on.

Tina was a bit harder for me to warm up to. I think because she had her hackles up so much that she just seemed prickly – even after her and Blake became friends. I did enjoy the times they spent as lovers but I definitely felt that the relationship was heavier on Blake’s side than Tina’s. I believe she was still in the he’s-so-hot-I-can’t-believe-he-wants-to-even-talk-to-me stage even at the end of the book – after they’d become lovers. I just wanted her to accept Blake for the wonderful guy he was and get past her preconceived notion of who Blake was on the inside.

Overall this was a very good New Adult book and I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

This title is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Posted October 21, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

The Heiress EffectJudith’s review of The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister, #2) by Courtney Milan

Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.  And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

Wow!!  Courtney Milan really knows how to write a great story!  From the first of her novels until this one, I have never been disappointed.  This story embraces the study of two very different people in that both are living right on the fringe of aristocratic society.  Both have been subjected to the quiet and often underhanded slurs regarding their baseborn origins;  both have endured the derision of those who know not how to relate to anyone other than look down their noses at them.  Each has set goals and each is pursuing them with diligence.  The problem is that they are eventually attracted to one another with the clear knowledge that any future relationship between them is impossible and that they are absolute opposites.  Oliver wants a spouse who is completely acceptable to society, one who will bolster his bid for political power with her connections and society position.  Jane, on the other hand, simply wants to be who she is, never buckling to the society demand that she marry, shut her mouth, and make nice with people she can’t stand.  In fact, she deliberately works to offend as many people as possible, especially single men who are after her considerable wealth.  All she wants is to shield her sister from an ignorant willful guardian.  After that, she just wants to live her own life.

This is a story that is, at it’s most basic core, a character study of two individuals who are going in opposite directions but who are drawn inexplicably toward one another;  both are friendless in many ways;  both lack the social polish to be wholly acceptable;  both are determined to succeed at what they each deem to be absolutely necessary to their sense of self-accomplishment.  And being together?  Totally impossible!  Ms Milan has crafted characters who are not at the top of the social heap.  They are both social victims in many ways having been born “on the wrong side of the blanket” and yet accepted by their legitimate relatives.  Jane was dowered generously by her biological father, a man she didn’t even know existed beforehand.  Oliver was never acknowledged by his father but eventually by his half-brother, the Duke, and as such was barely accepted by the ton.  Both long to be accepted for who they are.  And yet, as the story unfolds, it is clear that the person to whom they are most acceptable–each other–will never fulfill the plan they each have for their lives.

This story is filled with the raw realities of 19th century aristocratic prejudice and the struggles for acceptance that so many seek who live and function on the fringe of the upper crust.  There is joy and disappointment here, frustration at the mindless control over women that was often exercised by unthinking “guardians” who believed that they were necessary because women didn’t know what what good for them.  There is betrayal and hurt at the hands of aristocrats who appear to be friends but who look for any opportunity to put the less fortunate “in their place.”  And as always, there are the fortune hunters who will say anything to a woman’s face just as long as they have an expectation of getting their hands on one hundred thousand pounds.  In the midst of all this is the sorrow they cause each other, knowing that they love each other, but also knowing that their love will not be strong enough to overcome Oliver’s prejudice against a plain-speaking woman.

I can’t say enough of how much I enjoyed this book and how entertained I was at the antics of Jane and the sense of appreciation she gained at having just two or three friends, all of whom managed to see beneath the show she was putting on to discourage suitors for the sake of protecting her sister.  The repartee Jane and Oliver share throughout the book is brilliant and the insightful look at the lower eschelons of English society make this the kind of novel that makes it stand out as an exceptional read.  I highly recommend it for all who love historical romance.  I think you will love it as much as I did.  I give this novel a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The Series (+ 2 novella’s):
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This title is available from Courtney Milan. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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