Title: Up To Me
Series: Shore Secrets #1
Author: Christi Barth
Format: eBook, 232 pages
Published: June 23, 2014 by Carina Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
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.
Gray's job is to visit struggling businesses undercover and decide if they are worth his corporation buying up and taking over. It's a lonely job but pays the bills very well but when he meets Ella the sparks fly and he suddenly doesn't want to be lonely anymore. Ella inherited her family's hotel after her parent’s sudden death and after 3yrs she finally starts to feel like she can emerge from her cloud of grief. The hot sexy new guest at her hotel may have something to do with her desire to live again but trusting her own judgment has been difficult. With secrets to be revealed and townspeople voting on whether Gray and Ella should be together, these two have a bumpy road to travel.
I'm not sure I have ever read such an easy going and funny with his quick retorts hero before, Gray was really a delight to read. He had his angst backstory, which was a very serious topic but kind of addressed in a rushed way and with the previous light tone of the book, didn't quite pack the punch I think it was suppose to. Gray keeps his job secret from Ella and the way it directly affects her could be seen as a huge betrayal but with how Gray works to help Ella, it was never a huge turnoff for me. Ella had her own, understandably, issues but she didn't feel as strong as a character as Gray. The town journal she writes in for not only advice but won't make a decision on her own, worked to add a great small town flavor to the overall story but kept our heroine from having a backbone. I found Ella to be somewhat milquetoast and when not with Gray, she faded into the background. Together, Gray and Ella were a delightful fun, teasing, and cute couple. Their dialogue was snappy back and forth but not in a sarcastic way, more of a wonderful sweet playoff of one another; you're going to be smiling a lot reading their conversations.
This was definitely more of a character driven story with the thread of Gray deciding if he should quit his job while still trying to assess if his company should take over the hotel and Ella learning how to take control of her life again with secondary characters of Ella's friends and townspeople making appearances and of course, Ella and Gray coming together. The characters themselves with each having their own little outside stories came together perfectly to create a great small town feel. There was some unnecessary handful of pages that were devoted to these secondary characters which clearly was meant to set them up for future books. This, along with how Ella and Gray's relationship moved along, created a very slow moving story. While having some great conversations, our leads kind of meander around for the majority of the book, you're going to have to want to settle in and lose yourself into a quaint little town.
Up to Me is what I sometimes call a mom's homemade chicken soup story, very comforting and will slowly warm you up from the inside. Gray is an extremely easy going hero you will fall a little bit in love with, Ella is the heroine you'll want to push to spread her wings, and together you'll cheer them on. If looking to lose yourself into a calm gentle read with some sweet humor, look no further.