"Playing Her Secret Crush" follows Katie and Alex as they enter their senior year of high school. Katie has decided it's time for a makeover- she has had a crush on Alex for years, but she has been permanently friend-zoned. She has read the magazines, invested her money in make-up and new clothes, and this year will be different- she's going to get a date, make other friends, and put herself out there. She and Alex have been super close for years- since she met him in the hospital with his brother and started playing a multi-player game with them.
After his brother's death, Alex took his brother's forced promise to live life to fullest as a requirement to date a new girl every week and live life on the edge with adrenaline-pumping activities. Katie is his best friend- and though he used to have a crush on her, she is so much more now- she's his everything. But he still wouldn't want to date her. He feels like, based on the things his brother said before he died, that his brother had a crush on her, and he doesn't want to date his brother's girl. Now, he is asking Katie to help him find a real girlfriend- not one that will fade out in a week, but something more serious.
Although his request is heart-breaking, Katie is the best of friends and just wants him to be happy- even if it's with the hot girl next door, Lexi, instead of her. Katie is the ultimate wing-woman. However, now, Katie is willing to make some more moves and might find a boyfriend herself. Caught between misunderstandings, mishaps, and some hot and cold/back and forth, Katie and Alex are dancing around the truth.
Alex was a bit hard to like at times- he really steamrolls over everyone else's feelings, including Lexi, who is pretty clearly not interested in him (but why should that stop him?), but mostly Katie. Although he lost his brother and is clearly still grieving, I found him somewhat cruel and wished that Katie had gotten together with someone who really respected and noticed her more (it was kind of obvious who it was early on but still comes out as a "surprise," but the way it was handled was pretty good- I am being vague to avoid potential spoilers). Alex does improve and have some revelations towards the end that makes him more likable. The gaming/team was a nice setting, and I really liked following their team's path through the game. Also, the other team members were also really awesome!
Overall, it was a cute story and a fun setting. I'd be interested in hearing Lexi's story in the future... Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.