Tyler Faulkner lived for his work, constructing Hollywood sets. His designs were perfect, and he expected equal perfection from his crew and himself. But, talented as he was, he felt trapped. A creative clash with a producer left him out of more than just a job, and Tyler decided that maybe a new beginning was exactly what he needed.
Seth Goodwin was reliable. So rock-steady that his father made him a partner in the family construction business over his older brothers. Seth’s job was simple—he took a highly skilled crew out on the road to build ridiculously expensive projects for rich clients. Their success prompted Seth and his dad to hire a new designer.
Seth wasn’t so steady around Tyler. Tyler didn’t simply draw art; he forced it into reality, elbowing his way into Seth’s work crew and life, whether he wanted him there or not. But Seth had a secret he’s been keeping for a long while, and Tyler, flamboyant and verbose, wasn’t someone who fit in a closet, unless he was looking for the perfect shoes to go with his outfit. Would Seth and Tyler be able to make it work? Or would everyone’s secrets catch up with them?
Secret Seth is available for purchase in e-book and paperback, and is also in Kindle Unlimited.
Review by Elaine White
Book – Secret Seth
Author – Ki Brightly
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 275
Cover – Cute!
POV – 1st person, dual character
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance
Triggers – Homophobia, disowning family, loss
This is only my second book by this author, but I loved it! It was fun, snarky, sweet and adorable in all the right ways, but it also had a strong message and a deeper layer, at heart, that really tore me up inside.
Let’s start from the outside in. The cover is super cute. The formatting is really great. Overall, the look of the book is high end.
Then we move to the inside, where I have to admit, 1st person isn’t usually my cup of tea. Here, it didn’t bother me at all. Each POV was marked with a chapter header, but it was also clear from the writing who the POV was about. There were only two places in the entire book where the wrong person was named – once naming Tyler when it should have been Seth, and once naming Seth when it should have been Tyler – but they were so minimal that they were barely noticable. One other issue I noticed could just be an alternate spelling or an American way of doing things – ijit. Now, as a Scot, this bothered me. It could have been a spelling mistake for some word I can’t imagine, or it could be a mis-spelled / alternative spelling for eejit, aka ‘idiot’. It’s so hard to tell and, honestly, it confused me. Neither of the main characters have the background to suggest this would be a word they would use, and its use was a little unnatural, in reading. But, because these were both little niggles that didn’t impact the overall story, I didn’t let them weigh in on my rating. But, I do have to admit they bugged me.
The writing was completely on point, with great levels of detail and description, brilliant characterisation, and a nice easy flow between chapters.
I loved both main characters. Tyler was femme, flambuoyant, but a hard grafter and one of the guys, when they let him be. The only thing that made him stood out was his attitude and his use of make-up, which all suited him fine and was accept in LA, but made him a fish out of water in Seth’s small town living. Seth was one of the guys who, as the title suggests, could never really be himself. He didn’t really know who he was, to begin with.
I loved how they bounced off each other, in an opposites-attract kind of way, but how they also became friends first and really got to know each other. They worked so well together that the chemistry was natural. I didn’t even mind that their first kiss – on the neck – came at 75%, because it felt natural to the characters, especially Seth, and the way they felt about each other. Both a little uncertain about making a move, because of the boss-employee thing, but also not sure how to ask if the other was even interested. Seth is a bit oblivious, so didn’t realise that the make-up and femme attitude meant Tyler was gay, while Tyler assumed Seth was straight because he was a big bear of a builder, and a manly-man. It made their circling each other all the better.
I’ll admit that I found Seth’s immediate attraction to Tyler strange to understand, at first – he didn’t flip out and panic, he didn’t really consider himself ‘gay’ or flip out about what it might mean to be attraction to a man, despite saying early on that he’d never found a woman he could settle down with. But, then at 53% we find out that he did have a brief relationship with a man in college, which led to the theory that he was bisexual, something we were only told in plain words at 71%.
I was really touched by Tyler’s family story, about how he’d been disowned by his family because of his being gay and wearing make-up, yet totally insecure around anyone else’s family, for fear that they would react the same. The way he feared and then came to love Seth’s family was touching, and the incident with the truck accident made me so sad. I was thrilled that Seth had sense enough to fight Tyler’s insecurities and know that the fight would be appreciated, because Tyler was just too emotionally broken to fight his own battle. I loved that he found his strength in and with Seth and that his story got a real ending, without being glossed over as just ‘back story’.
The moment the bisexual plain words were spoken at 71% became something magical. It’s that moment where, as a reader, you finally understand the title of a book that had eluded you until that point. For me, this was exactly what happened here. Once I could see how awkward and uncomfortable Seth was with his own sexuality and orientation – not sure how to label himself, not sure of what he wanted or with whom, and always being let down – I began to realise the true meaning of the title. And, once you realise that, everything else falls into place as natural and necessary plotting.
Overall, it was a fantastic story. Sweet, lovely, fun, snarky in places, but full of heart and romance. Sure, there were a few small editing issues, but they were minimal and few to count. In the end, it was a really sweet contemporary romance, with just a little bit of drama, a lot of family love and heart, and a sudden but satisfying ending followed by an adorable Epilogue.
Just about everything I could ask for in a romance novel.
There were so many moments that I marked as being important, having great quotes, one liners, and parts that made me cry, so bear with me as I try to choose the best.
““Did you like the movie?”
I didn’t remember much of it; I had been too busy focusing on him, his presence in the room. Gulping, I nodded. Please don’t ask me for my favourite part. It was… I scrambled internally the way I did when I fucked up something huge. It was you being here.”
“A star was exploding in my chest and I was dying at the same time.”
“I cried for things that never were. I cried for the little boy in me who just wanted to go home, but couldn’t.”
““I always thought I would die here,” I croaked, my voice completely wrecked.
“Better to live somewhere else, no matter how pretty a place is, if all it does is kill you. That fog turned to gold, but it burns off and leaves eventually. You got too pretty to stay too.””
About Ki Brightly
Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.
Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…
Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.