Jim lives alone with his diva cat, Callie, for company. Jim evades his loneliness by working seven days a week — four as a costume designer for a local theater company and three as a waiter. Jim is dedicated and the little time he has to himself is spent at the movies, eating at his favorite Italian food, or dancing at a club. That is until Jim receives his first anonymous note, pinned to the noticeboard at the restaurant. This is followed by four more, all divulging the power of Jim’s smile. Jim is then preoccupied with the possible identity of his secret admirer and whether he should be concerned by this person’s interest in him.
Alan is quiet and shy, an accountant who hides at the back of the restaurant where Jim works, behind a book. Alan is besotted with Jim, but scared to approach him personally, hence why he has been leaving notes. When Jim has to serve Alan one day, he recognizes the quieter man from ‘accidental’ meetings that Alan has engineered. From this point Alan and Jim become friends.
However, for their relationship to develop they both have to come clean: Alan about the notes and Jim about the fact that two men Jim has been friends with have been recently murdered.
For me, His Secret Admirer, was a book of two halves. At the beginning, I was intrigued by the mystery and tension that Edward Kendrick builds. He does this so well that I found myself doubting the genuineness of everyone Jim comes into contact with – Alan in particular. It was the need to know who Jim’s real stalker was that kept me turning the pages, but unfortunately when Kendrick chooses to reveal this at the halfway point in the novel, it felt anticlimactic. This was because the identity of the murderer and their reasons for their actions are unexpected and from here the story became disconnected. Kendrick has attempted to create some continuity, carrying the relationship between Jim and Alan through to the second half of the story and progressing it, but if I am honest, I became almost disinterested in His Secret Admirer‘s outcome.
Jim and Alan are straightforward characters who end the story the same way as they start it. What I mean here is that personally, I prefer protagonists to evolve and all I felt in His Secret Admirer was that it is the status of Alan and Jim’s relationship that changes. Saying that, some readers may prefer the lack of angst and an emotional connection between themselves and the characters.
Despite my disappointment with how the story turned out, Kendrick’s attention to detail is worth credit and he gives the reader a solid impression of who Alan and Jim are, in terms of their likes and dislikes and small habits. Though I do not think that this entirely compensates the reader for the loss of emotional contact, I do think it helps to make the story enjoyable.
So, to whom would I recommend His Secret Admirer? I think this novel would suit fans of undemanding contemporary romances and I do not think that these readers should be put off by the mystery element.