Monday, May 22, 2017

ARC Review:Buns (The Hudson Valley Series Book 3) by Alice Clayton

The third in the hilarious yet sizzling hot Hudson Valley series from New York Time and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton.

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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What I thought about Buns

Clara Morgan has a fabulous job bringing failing hotel operations back to life.  Her boss has hinted a partnership is in the works once she gets her latest client, the Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls in upstate New York back on track.  Clara likes the sound of that and also wants to check out Bailey Falls -- it's the little town where her friends Roxie and Natalie found love (See book 1 &2 in the series).

Archie Bryant has been running his family's business with an eye for keeping up the traditions of the past.  When he meets Clara, he's dug in his heels and isn't ready to embrace the changes that Clara proposes, but he is very interested in Clara.  They have a bit of an enemies-to-lovers thing going on that is truly sweet and exactly what they both need (the lovers part, that is).

Clara tries to resist Archie's charm, but she's really a goner from the first moment he kisses her.  She knows it's not a good idea to get involved with someone who is essentially her boss on the project, but the attraction between them is very strong.  Archie is a bit stuffy at first, but I loved how he gradually opens up to her.  Even though they can't deny the physical attraction for each other, Clara still has some old baggage that is keeping her from letting herself love Archie like she really wants to.

What I truly loved about this story is Clara.  She's focused on her career and the satisfaction she gets from doing a good job and building her reputation. Her past has shaped her into a successful career woman and has also kept her from putting her heart in a vulnerable position. She must decide what she wants, what she needs, and how she can have both her career and the man she's falling for.  These are questions many young career women face, and I liked that this story didn't automatically have her dumping her career in order to get her man. 

Although I found the story slightly predictable, it really worked for me because I loved these two main characters.  Clara is a sharp business woman, and I loved that she was successful and her life wasn't about finding a man.  Archie was sweet and patient with her (okay, maybe not so much at first) and I loved how he cared about the Bryant Mountain House, its traditions and employees. What made it all even sweeter was how Roxie and Leo and Natalie and Oscar had a part to play in this story too. Everything just came together nicely for me and I found myself wanting to know how Clara was going to resolve her dilemma.

Buns is a sweet love story about two people having a chance for happiness,even though their past may prevent them from being open to it.  It's about grasping that opportunity for love and not letting it go. It's about making the choice for happiness without giving up other aspects of life that make you happy, like a career. I loved that about this story.

I love this series. The women are strong and career-minded, and their men love them for it.  It doesn't get any better than that in contemporary romance!

An ARC was provided for review.

About the Author 
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

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