★ ★ ★ ★ FOUR STARS
When it comes to certain authors, you just know. They’re almost always good and you’re gonna leave the latest story feeling more than satisfied. Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy are two that feature on this list for me. The fact that this book is duet of their talents? It’s no surprise I was eagerly awaiting this book…and completely satisfied when I finally finished it. This marks another solid win for them and I can say with 100% honesty that I will always be a supportive fan of the works by these two brilliant women.
This book follows LobsterShorts and SinnerThree as they meet on a dating app – for benefits. It’s difficult to describe too much more about this story without giving too much away. What starts out as sexy, explicit chats that begin to explore their physical desires soon turns in to so much more.
Top Secret was the perfect blend of snarky humour, weird nerdy quirks and an obsession with lobster shorts. What’s not to love? As an avid romance reader, I’m a fan of the secret-identity-through-texts trope (is that a thing? Letters count too though…so perhaps it needs a better title? You get what I mean though) where the emphasis is on communication and not an instant attraction (despite what you might initially think of this story…it’s still true). What I loved about this book was the way the characters explored their sexuality and each other. Amidst the witty banter, weird animal sex facts and potential cat-fishing was the beginning of an endearingly sweet connection for two lost souls.
“What was I ever thinking? I need this man. And even if being half a couple doesn’t come easily to me, I have to try. Nobody has ever gotten under my skin the way he does. Nobody has ever needed me the way he does.
Not one person.
While I adored the secret aspect of this story, my favourite parts happened after they found out their identities. That’s not a spoiler…I think. Read the synopsis and see for yourself. What really drew me in was reading how the budding trust the characters had developed was suddenly tested to its extremes. Their journey from finally knowing the others’ identity was one filled with exploration of both their physical and emotional connection. As a full-blown sap, it was the emotional connection that really drew me in. How can you resist two lonely souls finally learning to not only stop hating each other, but also learning to trust one another? Or finally falling in love? You can’t. It was the reason I couldn’t put this book down.
“I’m just a guy, standing on a beach in nothing but his favorite pair of lobster shorts, waiting for the right man to love me.”
Well, along with the humour. Who doesn’t love two sassy men trying to outwit one another while simultaneously falling hard? They were quirky. They were explicit. They were an unconventional meeting of weird jock/nerds and alpha/dancers. And I loved every little bit of it.
“SinnerThree: … Tell me more about lobster sex, if you want. I’m not picky about sex talk as long as someone’s fucking.
I laugh softly. This guy’s funny, I’ll give him that.
LobsterShorts: I’m fresh out of lobster sex facts atm. BUT…lemme tell you about sea slugs.
SinnerThree: Omg yes. I can’t wait for this. Hold on. Let me undo my pants.”
This writing duo has taken away another win, in my opinion. If I hadn’t already back-read their books for the second time this year, I would be eagerly jumping back in to the wonderful world of Sarina and Elle. As it is, I am eagerly awaiting future books by this duo as it was THREE YEARS between this and their previous MM genre book of Him and Us. Please, please don’t let it be so long again!