Up to Me by Christi Barth
*A copy of this book was supplied by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* For no reason other than my own reading preferences, the steamy insta-lust-at-first-sight between testosterone fuelled Alpha Male, Graydon Locke, and the sassy/sweet Ella Mayhew, didn’t do it for me initially. But…the writing was so good that I pressed on past the first few chapters to see how this author’s ‘corporate predator falls for small town owner of failing target business’ storyline would evolve. I’m glad that I did. The first few chapters of Up To Me don't really hint at the emotional and psychological depths that this novel goes on to subtly explore. In fact for me, the skilful pacing and heart-wrenching emotion around the cynical and deeply scarred Gray and his tale of redemption on the edges of Seneca Lake is the real highlight of this story, followed closely by the warm and colourful secondary characters inhabiting this gorgeous small American town setting. Although Gray and Ella challenged me (I had trouble embracing Ella’s business decisions and Gray’s ongoing evasion of honesty) I felt that their responses were always validated by their pasts and as the end approached, I was convinced they’d moved beyond insta-lust and were completely right for each other. A recommended romance read, particularly for those who love a beautifully handled, character driven plot line around a complex male protagonist.