Release Reviews: Buns: Alice Clayton

Buns (Hudson Valley #3)
Alice Clayton
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Release Date May 23, 2017

Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns. 

Clara Morgan is a work-a-holic trying to make partner in the boutique branding agency she works for. She goes into struggling hotels, and infuses them with new ideas in order to improve or save them. And when work does not keep her on the go, then the fact she runs, swims, and competes in marathons and triathlons literally does. But this is safe for Clara because she does not have to think about her past or feel lonely. She does not make many attachments, because then she has the potential to be hurt or left behind as she was as a child. She has a few good friends that are the closest to family she has, but even then she sometimes keeps herself more isolated. 

Archie Bryant is next in line to take over the Bryant Mountain Inn when his dad retires. And Clara's new assignment is to save the historic, affluent hotel steeped in traditions. He comes off as stuffy, arrogant, and argumentative. He seems resistant to change. And Clara is judgmental, assertive, opinionated, and bossy. She has limited understanding of these traditions and lifestyles of the rich and famous since she grew up in foster care. They react swiftly and strongly, and not in a good way. They fuss and fight about everything professional and personal. They fight themselves over their simmering attraction. They challenge and push. They advance and retreat. There is literal chasing at times. The banter is feisty, witty, and so much fun.

They both have had painful pasts that left them somewhat closed off and isolated. They have both thrown themselves into work to avoid their issues. She has a crazy couple of friends to keep her grounded and drag her back. He has longtime staff that looks out for him as family.

Their violent chemistry cannot be denied for too long, but exploring physical attraction can still be safe as long as they can keep themselves in check. They know they are on borrowed time with an unclear future. 
But like everything else these two do, things seem to move impulsively and intensely.

Everyone can see what is really going on between them but Clara herself...simply because she does not want to see it. Feigning ignorance and avoidance is easier than accepting the truth. Staying in her own head and not sharing how she really feels keeps her safer. Because otherwise it becomes real, complicated, and messy. Then she has to put her heart on the line and risk being hurt...and risk hurting someone else. 

So what happens when time runs out? Can Clara go back to her independent wayward life alone after being part of life with Archie and her friends in Bailey Falls? Could small town and resort life with one man satisfy the girl who is used to wanderlust and adrenaline rushes? And if so, is Archie even ready to move on from his past?

It is told in Clara's point of view except the epilogue. It brings back the whole crazy cast of characters from this series--Roxy and Leo, Natalie and Oscar, Chad and Logan, Mom Trudy, and adds a group of hotel staff.  Their unfiltered mouths and diverse personalities had me cracking up. I really loved watching the unbuttoning of Archie from stiff and stand-offish to caring, open, and funny. And Clara was a mix of wounded bird and warrior. I loved their challenging dynamics and how they pushed each other outside of their comfort zones. This was a feisty, sexy, humorous, and emotionally charged enemies-to-lovers story with two broken people needing an anchor but not sure they are ready to grasp on.

I have kind of fallen in love with the quaint town of Bailey Falls and was enthralled by the descriptions of this old, luxurious hotel. Makes me want to go visit and hang out with this quirky crew...if even to get a hot cross bun or zombie cakes.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Clara Morgan is known for her work with struggling hotels, finding solutions to turn around landmark businesses. Though she appreciates the traditions of the locations she works in, she doesn’t keep personal traditions and isn’t tied to many people or things. She is attracted to the history and beauty of Bryant Mountain House, but finds the owner’s son hard-headed and against every change she suggests.

Archie Bryant lives and breathes his family’s historic hotel. His father has hired a branding expert to turn things around, but he is tied to the traditions and doesn’t think they need outside help to keep their hotel running.

Neither character is what one would consider open, or even particularly warm towards the other. They each have pasts that have kept them closed off. In Clara’s case, her detachment keeps her on the outside, even among her longtime friends. Archie’s hesitancy only applies to Clara, though. For the guests at Bryant Mountain House he has nothing but smiles and stories to share.

Because of the way they keep themselves reserved, Archie and Clara were at times difficult to love. Knowing Roxie and Natalie loved Clara made it a little easier to let her get away with being cold, but it took a little while to get used to it from both main characters until their backstories became fleshed out a little deeper.

But as they discovered more about each other, and found walls tumbling and secrets revealed, these two characters who kept themselves so isolated began feeling warmth and trust in another for the first time in a long time. I loved watching these two people carrying so much of their pasts as they let go of the pain and tried something new. These two may have started out as enemies, but quickly find they have more in common than it first appeared.
Returning to Bailey Falls with Clara to see Roxie & Leo, Natalie & Oscar, and all our favorite characters made for a fun, sexy read and made up for the cold moments between the characters. As Clara and Archie open up, we see more of the established characters interacting with our couple here. I loved watching as they embraced Archie as if he had always been part of the group, despite having spent most of his adulthood up on his mountain. In addition to the Bailey Falls group from earlier books, readers also meet an entirely new cast built around the hotel. Archie’s staff is as much his family as his father is, and their interactions in the book say the same.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Hudson Valley Series:
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From New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton, the first in a brand-new romance series telling the humorously sexy tale of Roxie, a private chef who gets a taste of love—but is it to stay, or to go?

After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she's back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly…and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown?
Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley #2)

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?

ALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop). She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her. Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog.
More books by Alice Clayton


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