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.