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I'm pleased to welcome contemporary author Christi Barth back to TRD today. For those of you who aren't familiar with Christi, she write "sassy, sexy and smart romances" for Carina Press. Prior to kicking off her writing career, Christi earned a Masters degree in vocal performance, performed on the stage and was a wedding planner. Her newest book, UP TO ME kicks off her new Shore Secrets series set among the lovely Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. UP TO ME is the perfect book to kick off your summer vacation reading. I laughed, sighed, sniffled, sighed a bit more and immediately started counting the days until book #2! You can find more information about Christi at her website and connect with her online on Facebook and Twitter.
Welcome to the Romance Dish, Christi and congratulations on the release of UP TO ME. Please tell our readers what they can expect from this book.
Laughter. A few spots that’ll make you put your hand to your heart and sigh/gasp. A few spots that’ll make you fan yourself. But to be specific, here’s the blurb:
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 and Ella both face potentially life altering personal decisions as well as a major obstacle to their happy ending. What do you want readers to understand about these two characters?
The title really says it all. Ella has to realize that she needs to stop taking advice and make her own decisions. Gray ends up taking responsibility for his actions, for once. But as much as they have to take individual stands, the book is about how they bring out the best in each other, and becoming a stronger unit together. Oh, and that Gray is really hot & charming, and Ella’s sweet & sassy.
Would you like to share a short excerpt from the book?
“You look stressed.”
“Well, we’re not exactly talking baseball stats here.”
His humor and resiliency amazed her. Gray was a man she could fall hard for—and if she had to be honest with herself, had already started that tumble. Not that it mattered. He’d be gone in just over a week. But Ella could pack a lot of fun into the days they had left together. Over the last six months she’d bounced all the way back to normal. Embracing this time with Gray would seal her leap back into embracing life fully, the way she used to.
“Nevertheless, it’s my job as manager of the spa to make sure my guests leave looking happier and more relaxed than when they arrived. You’re going to be walking bad press. Come do yoga with me tomorrow.”
“I’m a guy. We’re all about being hard and stiff, not soft and bendy.”
Ella blinked rapidly to clear the images of a naked, hard-muscled Gray that popped into her mind. And hardness…other places. “Don’t be so close-minded. Didn’t you end up enjoying the massage I gave you?”
“Yes.” He sounded adorably sulky at being forced to acknowledge it. Why was it that men found it so hard to admit when they were wrong? Definitely a topic of discussion for her next margarita night with the girls.
I love the closeness of the Seneca Lake community and the role they play in Ella and Gray’s relationship. What are your plans for Ella’s circle of friends?
True love, of course! If somebody has more than a paragraph of dialogue in this book (oops – aside from the bad guy), it is a safe bet that they are going to get paired up and have a romantically happy ending by the end of book 3. That’s just how I roll.
Speaking for myself and all the other readers who will love UP TO ME, I'm so happy to hear that!
Your descriptions of Seneca Lake and the people living there have me wanting to pack my bag and board the next plane to New York. What’s your ideal summer vacation spot?
The beach. Hands down. Something about sitting in a chair with sand beneath my feet watching the ocean refills my soul and makes me unbelievably happy. Or maybe it is just all the books I read and the salty snacks I eat while at the beach that puts a grin on my face. But I adore vacationing in the Finger Lakes (there are sixty wineries around Seneca Lake – it is impossible not to have a great weekend up there!) and do encourage everyone to visit.
UP TO ME is the perfect story to add to readers’ summer reading lists. What books are on your reading radar this summer?
I’ve been saving The Collector by Nora Roberts to read when we hit the beach in August. I can’t wait to read the start to Christie Ridgway’s new series, Take My Breath Away. Ooh, and Laura Kaye’s Hard To Hold On To in August!
What is something that readers would be surprised to learn about you?
In high school, I sent away to get an application to the FBI because I was convinced I wanted to be a special agent. But when I saw the requirements of college majors – all things that bored the heck out me – I abandoned that particular pipe dream.
Will you be attending any conferences or booksignings this summer where readers will have the opportunity to meet you?
Well, I just finished a fun but exhausting three conferences in four weeks: RT in New Orleans, BEA in New York, and RAGT in Cincinnati. So I’m afraid that wraps up my traveling for the summer. But I will be hanging out at the Baltimore Book Festival in September, so come on by!
Love on the Boardwalk, the sequel to Love at High Tide, comes out in September. It is a madcap romantic caper set in Atlantic City. And for those who enjoy Up To Me (which is everyone, I hope!), book 2 of the trilogy, All For You, releases in February.
I'll be looking forward to all three! Thanks for visiting with us today, Christi. Hope you have a wonderful summer filled with lots of great books!
Readers, Christi has graciously offered an e-book copy of UP TO ME for one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. So tell us, where is your ideal summer vacation spot?