Trade Me by Courtney Milan is the first thing I’ve read by Ms. Milan that didn’t work for me. I am an unabashed fan girl of her historical romances and was sure I’d love her foray into modern times. I didn’t. To be fair, this is a New Adult romance and I like those even less than I like rock star romances. But even allowing for my non-propensity for NA, this book fell flat for me. The heroine, a dirt-poor pre-med student at Cal Berkley, is so precocious and perceptive that she seemed far older than 20. She’s determined to make a better life for her Chinese parents and her younger ADHD sister and thus has no time for gorgeous billionaire boys who have the hots for her. In fact, the hero, Blake (his father is the CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies) irritates the hell out of Tina mostly because he’s seemingly so clueless about his wealth and the extraordinary privilege it affords him. So when Blake offers to switch lives for the rest of the semester, Tina doesn’t believe there’s a chance in hell he’ll be able to live in grinding poverty. The novel features Ms. Milan’s usual stellar prose but the story seemed forced. And while it was nice to read a book where being a billionaire is presented as a character flaw rather than a synonym for uber-sexy, I felt the moral message of the book swamped the story. Still, there is much to admire here. Tina’s roommate’s gender identity (she’s transsexual) is presented matter of factly and well, as is Blake’s emotional baggage. The lives of the Chen family and that of Blake’s father are interesting and enhance the plot. But the romance lacked credibility and the plot flew off the handle in the concluding chapters. I’m always interested in what Ms. Milan writes but this book is perhaps my least favorite of her works. Grade: C.