Top Secret (Belen’s Review)

Title: Top Secret
Author: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC and Elle Kennedy Inc.
Release Date: May 7th 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, NA Romance
Page Count: 319 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5


LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

Q&A about Top Secret:

Q: Have we met these characters before in another book?
A: No! These guys are brand new, and we can’t wait for you to meet them.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?

A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy are back in MM after a three year “hiatus” (idek why it’s called that when they’ve been writing this entire time) with a new New Adult contemporary romance featuring two 21 year old college students, Keaton and Luke. Frat brothers who seem like total opposites, they have more in common than at first glance, and I’m not just talking about their scorching hot chemistry. The story has humor, a relevant plot, and a smooth, fast pace.

When Keaton’s long-time girlfriend suggests spicing up their very vanilla sex life with a threesome, Keaton not only doesn’t reject the thought out of hand, he really thinks about it and sets it up using an app called Kink.

I’m a scientist. Experimenting is what I do. I even dreamt about sex with men once. Or twice. I never mentioned that to Annika. But why would I? I’ve also dreamt of meeting a dragon who smoked clove cigarettes. The things my brain invents while I’m sleeping aren’t newsworthy.

Luke doesn’t depend on or lean on anyone. He’s not like most of the other guys in the frat, especially Keaton Hayworth III, who don’t have to worry about jobs or money or how they’re going to make rent. He blows off steam on the rare occasion he has a spare extra moment with like-minded individuals looking for a hot hookup on Kink. When he responds to a cute guy asking for a threesome, their texts become heated, sexy, and, after a few weeks, a real friendship starts to develop.

Usually I’m good at keeping my armor on. I don’t let anyone see what I don’t want them to see. But it’s getting harder to do that with Keaton. I really do like the guy. He makes me laugh. Makes me come. But this couple and dating talk makes my skin prickle with discomfort. Makes me want to flee.

I didn’t like Luke very much for the first half of this, but it’s a testament to both Bowen and Kennedy and their knack for taking an unlikable character and making him not only sympathetic but making sure readers are rooting for him by the end. I certainly was. Keaton was easier to like, but still with his own issues. My only complaint here was I felt like the ending was serviceable, with a HFN / (squint and it’s a) HEA ending, but I would have loved it from a little later on in the relationship to show a more settled HEA.

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. It’s terrifying. Still. I don’t pull away yet, because the things I want are bigger than my fear.

Dual, first person POV, adversaries to lovers, super hot, NA romance with a HFN/HEA ending.

Not for nothing, and only my opinion, but this feels like a set up for a “Darby College” or “Alpha Delt” series. I, for one, certainly hope so and will be one of the first in line.


Buy Link Amazon Global GoodReads
Sarina Bowen Link More Author Reviews
Elle Kennedy Link More Author Reviews

Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Top Secret provided by the authors in exchange of an honest review.


I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I’m happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand.
I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I’m in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA!

My biggest no-no’s are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my “Favorite M/M” stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future

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