THE SECRET LOVE
When America Singer gets the invitation to register for the Selection, she dismisses it entirely. She is 16 years old, she is serious about her boyfriend, and she does not want to leave her family. But, the caste difference between her and her boyfriend Aspen is going to complicate life. She will be marrying down, and Aspen does not want a life of penury for her. He encourages her to register for the selection, and even when her name is called, she thinks she will just be dismissed, since other women will surely have a greater desire and greater talents to become the new princess.
America makes some friends among the other women. When she meets the prince, she tells him that she does not want to be a princess, but she offers to be his friend and to help him make a good decision. Through many tests and trials, she banters with Prince Maxon and earns his regard and affection in spite of her refusal to exert herself.
When she starts to figure out that Prince Maxon is becoming devoted to her, Aspen shows up as one of the Royal guards at the palace, and the book ends with America being put in the position of having to choose between the prince and her boyfriend. She has feelings for both of them.