Up to Me – Christi Barth – 4 stars

June 24, 2014 Carina Press, NetGalley, Read in 2014 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Up to Me – Christi Barth – 4 starsUp to Me by Christi Barth
Published by Carina Press on 2014-06-23
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
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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.100,000 words

I loved this small town and the people who we get to see poke their noses in to our pair’s relationship.  I cannot wait to see more and am happy that this story made it possible for us to get such a great view of the town.

Ella loves living on Seneca Lake even as the loss of her parents weighs on her every decision.  She’s happy being the masseuse and being around the manor but there is a part of her that hasn’t moved on with her life.  She’s shocked when she meets a man who flips all of her switches even before she starts to get to know him.  As she starts to branch out and take a chance letting him in she also starts to reclaim the life she put on hold because of misguided guilt.  I really enjoyed watching her journey to becoming a woman not afraid to live and take control of her own destiny even as things seem to fall apart around her.  She’s got such loyal friends that mean the world to her and have stepped up to be there for her as she dealt with some really heavy things.  I especially loved how she found the strength to finally let go of letting the journal make her decisions for her.  While it served its purpose it was time for her to stand on her own two feet to become someone her parents would have been so proud of.

Graydon was such a fun character.  He’s got secrets of his own and when he meets Ella he is so torn between doing what is right with her and what is right by his job that it causes major conflicts and issues for him.  His reaction to the way the town protects Ella was wonderful but he saw that in many respects it was stifling the inner self she needed to let loose.  I also enjoyed his entry in to the journal and found it quite telling how much faith he put in the town when push came to shove.  This is a man who needed to find somewhere he could belong and a life that was filled with things that made him happy.  He was like Ella in that he was so stuck in his past that he wasn’t really living life to the fullest.

Watching them fight what they were feeling for one another was fun and seeing how everyone rallied around them both made me laugh a few times.  There was a good amount of heat but honestly the way that the relationship took its time to fully develop was the best part of it.  If you like small town romances where the town and its residents play a part in the story then this will be right up your alley.

Special thanks to NetGalley.com and Carina Press for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.  I cannot wait for more of this series!

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