Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Up to Me (Shore Secrets)

Up to Me (Shore Secrets) by Christi Barth

Ella Mayhew's always appreciated the beautiful view of Seneca Lake from the spa window of her family's hotel.But the view improves dramatically when a hot stranger runs across the grounds—shirtless. He's the first man to kickstart her hormones in the three years since she lost her parents, and she doesn't even know his name.
Graydon Locke's on his umpteenth undercover assignment. The routine's always the same: assess a business, recommend it for closure, then roll out before anyone discovers his decisions impact hundreds of lives. He's always believed nothing good comes out of small towns. Why would this one be different? Then he makes two classic rookie mistakes—falling for the sweet, sexy girl who owns the very business he's on the verge of axing. And letting the town's residents get involved in both his life, and his relationship with Ella.
Ella's the best thing to ever happen to Gray, but he's lied to her from the start. If he pulls the plug on Mayhew Manor, the entire town may crumble. Ella couldn't save her parents, but it's up to her to save their hotel. Even if that means turning her back on true love.

4.0 out of 5 stars Grown Up and RefreshingSeptember 8, 2014
This review is from: Up to Me (Shore Secrets) (Kindle Edition)
**Reviewed for eBooks Galore**

Up to Me is a full length stand-alone contemporary romance set in the Finger Lakes region of New York. In it we follow Ella Mayhew, reluctant owner of financially troubled Mayhew Manor, and Gray Locke, corporate realignment specialist sent to determine if his company should pull the plug on the manor, its people, and the town it supports.
While this book does follow the oft-used trope of one person hiding a devastating secret from the object of his desire (as Gray does with Ella), Up to Me is surprisingly free of most of the trumped up drama such a plot would bring. The attraction between Ella and Gray is immediate, open, and honest, something that made the story feel refreshing and new. In the ten day arc of the novel’s major action, both Gray and Ella go far beyond surface level getting-to-know-you conversations and dig right into the deep and dark recesses of their emotional baggage. Instead of bogging the story down, it shined light on both characters’ actions and motivations. Again, it felt very refreshing.
There are a host of other reasons why I enjoyed this book, and every reason begins with one of the secondary characters. Ella’s friends and employees are dynamic, full of life people who deserve stories of their own. Christi Barth could write an entire series focusing on the townspeople (and I think she should), but she doesn’t throw people in there as obvious future heroes and heroines. Each person in the story has a set of purposes and each one executes them beautifully.
I did feel as though the resolution was a little bit rushed and I admit that the happily ever after bit was even more so. These weren’t deal breakers for me mostly because neither Gray nor Ella allowed their pride (wounded or otherwise) to control their actions for very long, and both grew up some over the course of the story. So while the ending felt a bit rushed, it didn’t feel wrong.
I thoroughly enjoyed Up to Me and will be looking for other Christi Barth books in the future. I recommend it for all contemporary romance lovers.
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