Buns by Alice Clayton

❝ I’m not my past, I’m my present. And my future is wide fucking open. I can make whatever kind of life I want for myself, and the life that I want for myself is with you, only with you.❞

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Title: Buns
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books

Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Nobles  

*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.* 

Rating: ★★★½

Synopsis via Goodreads: 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.

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Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

“Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid.  Size-eighteen women were supposed to be shy.  Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them. Fuck all that noise.”- Natalie, Cream of the Crop

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Title: Cream of the Crop
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads: 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?

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Natalie Grayson is a plus size bombshell who always goes after what she wants. And what she wants is Oscar Mendoza, a local dairy farmer in Hudson Valley who makes ones of the best cheeses that have ever touched her taste buds. But Oscar is not exactly picking up what she’s putting down. Opportunity strikes when a new project lands on her desk and Natalie finds herself in the small town of Hudson Valley. Switching out her high heels for a pair of cowboy boots, Natalie hopes to finally have her moment with Oscar. But when things start to heat up between the two, will Natalie trade in her high heels for good, or will memories from the past send her packing her bags with a one-way ticket back to the city?

I read the first installment in the Hudson Valley series, Nuts, a few weeks ago and while I was not too impressed by it, I was still interested in checking out the second book in this series, hoping that it would be much better than the first. AND IT WAS! Thank god for that because reading two mediocre books in a row would not make for a happy bookworm! 

The writing was a lot better in this book. It was more smoother than the previous installment and I was immediately sucked in by Natalie’s narration. I RELATED TO HER ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL! She is so blunt and straight-forward. Her dialogue made this book such a entertaining read that I could not put down. I felt like there was also a lot more going on with the plot since Natalie’s past comes into play. Although she is a such a confident woman now, she wasn’t always that way and I really loved seeing her talk about her past and how she overcame her issues and despite those dark times, they made her the FIERCE BADASS she is today. 

The romance is VERY HOT AND HEAVY in this book. The chemistry, the sexual tension are very strong between these two. This is insta-lust at its finest, although I wasn’t complaining 😉.

The back and forth banter between these two had me dying with laughter since Natalie is so forward. She definitely brought out a another side of Oscar and it was fun to see him not be so serious all the time.

As you can already guess, I really LOVED Natalie and she basically made this book for me. Like I said before, I love her fierce attitude, but I also love that she still had her insecurities. She has to make a tough decision in this book and she didn’t want to have to sacrifice who she was just for the sake of love and I admire that. Many heroines in romance novels are so quick to put another’s needs before their own, but it was refreshing to see a female MC put her own needs first. Oscar was such a brooding farmer, but as attractive as he was, I felt like he lack depth. He was basically  just eye-candy for the readers. I wanted more from him, more to his personality, something to liven him up!

The only issue I had was with the ending. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and overly dramatic. The ending is where our main conflict shows up, but it only took a chapter or two for things to be resolved and happy again. I kind I wished it was dragged out a little more.

Overall, Cream of the Crop was a more satisfying sequel that did not disappoint. Fun-loving, super cheesy, and sexy as hell, this book will keep you entertained and Natalie will steal your heart, whether you want her to or not. I would definitely recommend this one for those in the mood for a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy and I’m excited to read the next installment in this series!

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Nuts by Alice Clayton

“Love is messy, painful and emotionally draining. It hardly seems worth it.”- Roxie, Nuts

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Title: Nuts
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads: 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?

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Roxie Callahan is living her dream as a private chef catering to the rich and famous of Los Angeles. But when she gets a call from her free-spirited mother asking her to return home to run the family diner, Roxie makes the journey back home to Hudson Valley. She’s made it clear that she is only there for the summer, but things become messy when she falls head-over-heels (literally!) for Leo, a local farmer with vibrant green eyes and acres full of organic crops. But when an unlikely surprise throws her for a loop, will Roxie run back to the Hollywood hills or will she let go of her fears and stay in the small town she never thought she would ever step foot in again?

I’ve been meaning to check out Clayton’s works for a while after reading rave reviews for her novel, Wallbanger. I decided to pick up Nuts first after receiving an ARC for Cream of the Crop, the second installment in the Hudson Valley series. I was ready to laugh out loud, but that was before I realized the Nuts was shelved as ‘Chick Lit’. While I love romance, I AM NOT A FAN OF CHICK LIT. Chick Lit tends to lack the emotional component I need to connect with a book and most of them tend to have linear plot lines with one-dimensional characters. As you can probably guess, my first Clayton novel DID NOT go off with a bang!

My first major issue was with the writing. The first 30% of the book was a bit of a drag to read because it mostly consisted of Roxie whipping up dish after dish and I felt like I was reading a recipe book. I’m the type of girl who loves dialogue so when there is not much conversations happening, my eyes tend to glaze over the words I’m reading and I get bored. I was however rolling on the floor laughing over the numerous sexual food innuendos. They were just too funny and so clever! I can’t look at some foods the same way ever again.

The overall plot itself was just meh. In the beginning when Roxie was talking about how much she disliked her childhood town and how she felt like an outcast, I thought that there would be some sort of conflict or tension between her and the other people in the town. But surprisingly, everyone welcomes her back home and I don’t really understand why she was dreading going back in the first place. There wasn’t much conflict AT ALL throughout this story. The plot twist wasn’t even that big of a deal as Roxie and Leo quickly overcame that hurdle and things went back to sunshine and rainbows.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Roxie. She was kind of annoying at the beginning and I just couldn’t connect with her. She also doesn’t DO MUCH throughout the story. She had this drive at the beginning of the novel to become an amazing chef, but that all is tossed to the side when she meets Leo. I do like the romance and the chemistry that Leo and Roxie have going on. It was sexy, wild, angsty as hell and I don’t have any complaints about it.

Overall, my first impression of Clayton is not a good one. I was not impressed with Nuts. While the sexual food innuendos and sweet romance kept me entertained, the flat plot line and dull characters just bored me to death. If your looking for a simple romance with a few laughs, Nuts may do the trick, otherwise I would suggest just leaving this one on the pantry shelf.

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