Charles is a college professor teaching an 8 week non credit summer course on Shakespeare. Gray is an artist and one of his students. After the final class Gray propositions Charles only to be turned down. Thus begins the seduction.
I liked this book but it did have its share of problems.
To begin with, the opening scene is all about physical attraction. We're told a few times that Gray and Charles had this amazing intellectual connection but we never actually see it. The lack of emotional connection made it difficult to get into at first. An emotional connection definitely forms over the course of the book, but it isn't as present in the beginning as I would have liked it to be.
Charles also has a lot of angst about the age difference. I'll certainly admit there's often a maturity gap between 23 and 33, but Charles was acting more like he's 60 and as someone who's closer to 30 than 20 I found that annoying.
But I do like the progression of the relationship, even if it would be nice if Charles could get over himself more. It's actually quite sweet.
So Charles "deep dark secret" is that he's into BDSM. Which is fine and I'll admit not vanilla but I also think it's not as horrible a secret as Charles thinks it is.
Charles is Gray's introduction and of course he takes to it well. The problem is that Charles doesn't really educate Gray about the scene, he educates Gray about Charles' own preferences. Consequently even by the end of the book Gray is shockingly ignorant of some basic (and common sense) things like you shouldn't get involved in that type of play when one of the partners (especially the dominant partner) is angry. It's Charles' duty to educate Gray but Gray also has some responsibility to do some research on his own. There are plenty of books and DVDs out there, to say nothing of the Internet.
Also, Charles is afraid that Gray will want to do more extreme things than he's comfortable with, but they don't really talk about it and it never goes anywhere. When Charles tries to talk about it, it's in the middle of sex, which is really not the time.