My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hotels, corporate spying, love and deceit. How you could not be intrigued? It's what drew me into to UP TO ME, the latest offering by author Christi Barth. And while, there were some things in this book that didn't work for me, UP TO ME was the kind of sweet and tender romance that I've come to look forward to from this author.
Hotel Owner and masseuse, Ella Mayhew is enjoying the view from her hotel's spa window when a hot hunk of man comes running by, increasing said view's appeal exponentially. But when he catches her staring and comes up to the spa to introduce herself, she has no idea how much her life is going to change.
Graydon Locke is a man on mission--he always is. As a "corporate realignment specialist", he comes to hotels to assess how ripe they are for his company's takeover. So, his stay that Mayhew Manor should be no different. However, Ella hasn't been at any other hotel he's evaluated, and he's never reacted to any woman the way he does to her. But when he finds out that Ella is also the hotel's owner, his life got a lot more complicated.
Their relationship seems impossible: Ella's been in mourning since the death of her parents three years ago, Graydon's in town only for two weeks to set up the hotel for takeover. But, no matter how unlikely it seems, they can't stay away from each other and the attraction in undeniable. Soon, however, they both get in deep and Gray's secrets could destroy the best thing that's ever happened to either of them.
UP TO ME started off strong. I was immediately drawn in by Ella and Gray's unusual meeting. It was quirky and funny and seemed to set the tone for the whole story. I was interested in how it was going to play out. I pretty much had an idea of how the story would work, but the question was how was the author going to execute it.
I enjoyed the courtship between Gray and Ella. The town of Seneca Lake had a lot of input into their relationship much to Gray's annoyance. The town was close-knit and strange like some of my favorite series, with unique characters and traditions, so that Seneca Lake seemed like another character in the story.
I empathized with Ella's plight. But, I also empathized with Gray's too. It was hard to watch the inevitable climax that you knew was coming. It was not a surprise by any means, but it was still hard to read when you were cheering so hard for them to make it.
My biggest issue with UP TO ME is that the middle seemed to drag for me. Part of that was because although the town had its quirk, I think they did some things that were a bit over the top. I had quite a few eye roll moments there. And that may have been the whole point, but it made me put the book down a few times. Once Ella got stronger toward the end (thus making her rely less on the town), I felt that the story picked up and lead to the conclusion I was hoping for.
So now I'm left to rate this book. UP TO ME is one of those stories that's hard to rate. It starts with a bang, but it fizzled for me along the way. It ended well and left a lot of room open for the continuation of the series though. I would give it 3.5 STARS if we could do half-star ratings. Since can't though, I'll give it 3 stars.
This is the first book in the Shore Secrets series and I'm hoping that we get to see more of Gray and Ella. I also am hoping that book two features Ella's friends, Piper and Ward. They had some serious relationship undertones going on through UP TO ME so I look forward to see what their story is.
Needless to say, I will definitely continue with this series. I've definitely become a fan of this author's work over the last several months. I look forward to seeing what she will come up with next!
✳✳ Copy provided by the author/publisher for an honest review.
✳✳ Reviewed on I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews by Guest Reviewer, Sassafrass.