Up to Me by Christi Barth

Posted August 7, 2014 by Kate in Liked It, Review / 0 Comments

Up to Me by Christi BarthUp to Me by Christi Barth
Series: Shore Secrets #1
Format: eARC
Published by Carina Source: Netgalley
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary Romance, Romance
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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.

Two things stuck out to me when I read the synopsis of the book, one it took place at a hotel, and because I used to work at a hotel I was intrigues, and secondly that Gray was undercover and therefore deceiving everyone he met. It’s easy to see how Gray being undercover would make thinks a bit tricky for him, and the anticipation for when everything would be revealed was definitely one of the more excited aspects of the book.

So Ella is from a small town, and like most small towns everyone is in everyones business, which ends up playing a big role in the course of the book. The whole town has an opinion about literally everything Ella does, and any time she does something she want to without their agreement they lose their minds. The town clearly means well, they care about Ella, especially after the death of her parents, but this book is largely about Ella learning to stand on her own to feet and really decide what she wanted to do with her life. In that respect I really liked watching her journey. The journal that the town talks through is an interesting touch, and I have to say I have similar feelings about it that Gray did, cute in theory but also a little bit crazy in practice.

I liked Gray as a character. He’s clearly a good guy, and I think he really just wants to find a place to belong. Only when he finds a place where he fits in, he knows he can’t stay because he’s lying to all of them thanks to his latest work assignment. Gray clearly has conflict not just about his current job and the conflict of interest it brings with Ella, but he is unhappy in his job in general. More than that he has a past with a problem, and his feelings about the past really help him and Ella form a bond with each other. In a lot of ways I think the two of them are just so good for each other, they compliment each other and build each other up.

Personally, I felt like the book was a little longer than it needed to be, there were some spots that I thought the pacing lagged a little bit, but overall the pace was pretty good about 90% of the time and the plot definitely kept me interested. I liked the relationship dynamic with Gray and Ella, and there is a HUGE range of secondary characters that add a lot of color to the story, which was a lot of fun to read. I think I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a leisurely contemporary romance read, it’s got sweet spots, intrigue, a couple of laughs, witty banter, and a cute love story, so check it out.

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About Christi Barth

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.
A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.
Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.

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