Dylan Price is a gold digger. His goal in life is to find a rich, older man who will take care of him and ensure he never wants for money again. Dylan works as a waiter in a West Hollywood restaurant where he can maximize his chances of flirting his way into kept boy status. When Dylan waits on Simon Wainwright’s table one night, Simon’s friends ask Dylan to amp up the flirting as it is Simon’s birthday. The shy, geeky man is not Dylan’s type, and certainly no Sugar Daddy, but Dylan has no problem turning on the charm. When Dylan runs into Simon later that night, they end up having an unexpected hook up that leaves Dylan with a surprising sense of connection to Simon.
Dylan knows, however, that Simon is not his ticket to financial security, and so he continues on his quest to find a wealthy, older man. However, what starts out as a promising hookup ends up with Dylan caught up in a bad situation, with drug dealers and thugs on his tail. The only person Dylan can think of that may be safe is Simon, and the two run off together to Las Vegas. While they are there, feelings grow between Simon and Dylan. Dylan can really see what kind of good, sweet guy Simon is, and even though he can’t imagine Simon ever wanting to be with him long term, Dylan can’t help but start to fall for him. But even as Dylan thinks about a possible future with Simon, the bad guys are still circling, and Dylan might find his life in danger just as he is realizing what it is he really wants.
Secrets and Bow Ties has a set up that I really enjoyed. I tend to be a fan of a good geeky hero. Simon is adorable dorky with his bow ties, bad glasses, and very old fashioned demeanor. I loved him paired with Dylan, who while not exactly a slut, definitely uses his body as a commodity. He knows he is good looking and is determined to cash in on his body and set himself up for life. Dylan isn’t particularly smart and doesn’t have a whole lot of ambition besides finding someone to take care of him, so the pair make a nice contrast. I especially liked the makeover scenes where Dylan turns Simon into a super sexy geek. With all of Dylan’s determination to find a Sugar Daddy, he could have come across like a total jerk, but it felt more like some cluelessness to me than being an ass. That said, I think more information on just what is driving Dylan in this quest would have helped. We get some vague elements of backstory but not enough that I really felt like I understood Dylan and what shapes his attitude and behavior.
Almost from the start the story builds in a suspense thread as Dylan inadvertently finds himself in the middle of a theft, drug ring, DEA sting, and more. I like that we learn what is going on at the same time as Dylan, so we feel the same sense of confusion he does and follow along as he figures out the mess he has gotten caught up in. There is some nice suspense and mystery here, and a nice balance of romance and thriller.
My biggest problem here is that Dylan made me kind of crazy with his poor decision making. He is so naive, so lacking common sense that I kept wanting to scream at him. First off, he knows bad guys are after him, about to beat him up or worse, when he flees to Simon. Yet he never even considers telling Simon what is really going on. He takes Simon on a trip to Vegas, and even as the bad guys are showing up and clearly able to find him easily, Dylan never thinks warning Simon would be a good idea. Or working more closely with the DEA agent on the case. Or calling the police when he is attacked. Or leaving a critical message when someone doesn’t answer the phone. Or any of the many other things that a normal person would do when caught up this type of situation. On one hand, there is a bit of amusing hijinks vibe going on here, so the humor does help carry things in many places. But time after time Dylan just seems to make horrible, life threatening decisions that made me irritated with his behavior.
This story is the third book in Harper’s Secrets series, but this book totally stands alone (as they all do). In this case, Dylan is roommates with Olly, the MC from the last book, but other than a brief cameo, there is no other connection with the first two books that I noticed. So you could easily jump into this one without having read the previous books in the series.
Overall I found this story fun and entertaining. I loved Simon and I enjoyed the connection between these two guys. If you like a good geeky hero, or enjoy opposites attract stories, I think you will enjoy Simon and Dylan together. The story nicely combines the relationship and the suspense plots into an overall enjoyable book.