Rating: 4.25 stars
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After several very public outbursts, Damien Marshall has attracted all the wrong kinds of attention. With his career as a Hollywood action star on the line, Damien retreats to a floating hotel in the wilds of Alaska. Here he can lay low and hope the dust settles back home. Damien’s the only guest of Wild Eagle Lodge, but even under an assumed name, the staff know exactly who he is. Except for fishing guide, Jack Spencer.
Jack doesn’t much like working for the elite kind of clientele that visit Wild Eagle Lodge, but in an effort to help his struggling sister, he’s taken the high paying job. When he meets “David Morgan,” Jack appreciates the man’s down to earth nature and unassuming personality. He has no idea who David really is and, despite their short acquaintance, the men can’t help but develop feelings for one another. But when the truth comes out, Jack is left feeling betrayed and hurt. And Damien must decide if the lure of Hollywood is worth losing out on the love of a lifetime.
Up North is the first in the new Compass Stars series by Allison Temple. It is a sweet story with a pretty basic plot, but well-rendered characters give the book a greater level of depth than I expected. David (Damien) initially seems like your stock Hollywood bad boy whose antics have finally caught up with him. Instead, he’s a multi-layered character who goes through some real growth through the course of the book. Jack is somewhat more of a stereotypical outdoorsman, but he still has more depth than I anticipated and his relationship with David felt realistic and genuine. Their romance does move a bit quickly, but it’s not insta-love and that made reading their story far more enjoyable.
The plot to Up North is pretty basic and straightforward. There aren’t any big surprises here and given the strength of the characters, I was fine with the less than original plot. The book is well written and drew me in enough to keep me engaged. The pacing bobbles from time to time and I felt there were a couple places where things could have been tightened up to make the story flow a bit more smoothly. But this was a fairly minor problem and didn’t detract from my overall experience with the book.
Up North was a solidly written piece with compelling protagonists and a decent, if somewhat unoriginal, story. There was enough to like here for most readers and I think Up North will suit anyone who enjoys well constructed characters and enjoys the outdoors. Consider it recommended.