Book Review – Up North by Allison Temple

Compass Stars #1
Publisher: Indie
Pages: 268
Characters: Jack/Damian
POV: 1st
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Series

The last thing Jack Spencer wants to be is a fishing guide for rich tourists. But with a sister in need of help and nothing but a rusty fishing boat to his name, he takes a job at The Wild Eagle Lodge, Alaska’s newest luxury resort.

When a scandal rocks his career, movie star Damian Marshall feels like the whole world is watching his every move. That is, until he meets a gruff fishing guide who doesn’t seem to know who he is. Desperate for escape, Damian grabs at the chance for anonymity with both hands.

Away from the pressure of studios and the media, Damian and Jack grow closer. But as sparks fly and scandal follows Damian north, Jack will need to decide if he can love a man he hardly knows, or if this brush with fame is too hot to handle.

Up North is a 77k contemporary MM romance novel. It features a movie star on the run, a fishing guide who has never been anywhere, and bears of all sorts. HEA guaranteed.

Buy Link


This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’m already hanging for the 2nd book in this series. I loved the characters and how the plot unfolded. I got sucked in very quickly, and didn’t want to put it down. This is very much a story about reality and illusion, and how easy it is to believe in the latter.

I’ve read the trope before about an MC movie star keeping his sexuality hidden for fear of losing big roles, but I thought the author handled it well, and made it feel very real. Damien aka David has a lot going to fuel his fear, including an unsupportive family. It’s very easy when you’re in a not great place to believe gaslighting and I thought that came across well. I loved how different he and Jack are in personality and background, and the juxtaposition of the big name movie star and a guy who doesn’t watch movies at all so has no clue who he is, even when he finds out his real name.

I thought Jack and Damian complemented each other well, with Jack being very real, and most of Damian’s life being a role he’s playing. Even the lodge is a mostly fake like a movie, except for the boat, which Jack is able to fix so it’s authentic. Although I knew Damian’s truth would eventually be revealed, I liked the way it was, and how his and Jack’s relationship progressed from there.

I liked the other relationships in the story too, especially Jack and his sister Steph, and Damian and his best friend Vin. Vin is a hoot, especially when he’s pretending to be Damian. The rest of the supporting cast fill out the world nicely, especially as they’re not stereotypical at all. As an aside I liked the way Steph’s relationship with her husband pans out, and Marci’s role further on as they didn’t turn out the way I was expecting.

The extra freebie that is linked to at the end of the book is worth reading and a lovely second epilogue to the story.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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