Secret Admirer is a super-sweet friends-to-lovers slow-burn romance that follows our two main characters Ace and Benji, who attend the same university. Ace is a couple of years older than Benji and is the best friend of Benji’s brother Jeremy. Ace promised Jeremy that he would keep an eye on Benji to ensure that he doesn’t feel too alone at the university. Jeremy and Benji were supposed to attend the same university together, but then Jeremy accepted an internship elsewhere, so he’s feeling a bit guilty for abandoning Benji.
Now Benji has had a lifelong crush on Ace, even though he is supposedly straight. And as for Ace…well…he may not be so straight as everyone thinks. He is beginning to accept that he’s bi-curious and can no longer ignore his ever-growing attraction to Benji. He initially decides not to act on his feelings, given that his friends asked him to keep an eye on his brother, not try to seduce him.
But when Benji begins feeling kind of down in the dumps, Ace begins sending him anonymous gifts and notes from “A Secret Admirer” in the hopes of cheering Benji up. But after Ace begins sending the gifts, he can no longer deny his feelings for Benji and decides to come clean. But of course, things don’t go as smoothly as he’d hoped, and all sorts of hijinks ensue.
I loved this low-angsty tender story about a young man discovering his sexuality and subsequently falling in love with someone he feels he shouldn’t. I enjoyed getting this story from both of their alternating perspectives, allowing us to see the drama unfolded from each man’s point of view and how each man’s view of himself differs from the other man’s view of him, an element that I always enjoy in stories.
I also loved the secret admirer angle in the book. I mean, who wouldn’t love having a secret admirer? Though, of course, there’s a fine line between that and stalking, I guess. But still, I thought it was sweet, and I loved the emotion and reasoning behind it — merely trying to make Benji feel better about himself. It’s also worth mentioning that Benji doesn’t really believe anything Ace tells him, figuring that Ace is just being nice to him because he’s best friends with Benji’s brother. So from Ace’s point of view, the secret notes and gifts are a perfect solution.
All in all, this book about bisexual awakening, a mildly forbidden romance, complicated families, and first love was a hit for me. DJ Jamison is a new to me author, and I certainly will be checking out more of their work.