My eyes boggled. “A file. You’ve got a file on me. Wow.”
“Wow as in, dude, that’s weird.”
Now his eyes boggled. “Dude? Did you just call me dude?”
“Dude, I also called you weird. How did you miss that part?”
Reviewed by Tori
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. (Goodreads)
Hired to help rejuvenate the Bryant Mountain Resort, Clara Morgan is excited to work with this historically family owned resort. Clara is a rebrander. She is hired to rebrand failing hotels, motels, and resorts; turning them from money pits to money makers. She is ecstatic when her boss sends her on her biggest assignment to date with the promise if she succeeds in turning the Bryant Mountain House from a pink elephant to a cash cow, she’ll make partner. A pint size go getter, Clara looks like a pixie but acts like 4 star general. Nobody puts Clara in the corner…or the west wing…except for Archie Bryant.
“Good lord. I’m going to need a map to get back to the lobby,” I said, after our fourth turn. “Why’d they stick me all the way down here?”
HE looks casually back at me over his shoulder. “They gave you one of the best rooms in the wing. Very private.”
Now. Let me just say. For the Record. I don’t spook easy. I don’t scream at scary movies. I don’t hide when things go bump in the night. But this hallway… Remember The Shining with Danny goes riding his Big Wheel around and around the hallways at the Overlook Hotel?
Clara meets her match in Archie. A widower who is set to inherit his family’s resort when his father steps down, he resents Clara coming in with her ideas and plans. He feels the changes she is proposing are too radical for his beloved home. Archie wants to do it himself at his own pace.
“I’m not sure the overall tone of your advertisements send the right message to the kind of clientele we tried to cultivate here at Bryant Mountain House.”
“You don’t want young hip twenty- and thirty-somethings with disposable incomes taking pictures of everything they love about this place and posting it to all their friends who also have disposable income?”
Clara and Archie’s very snarky and antagonistic beginning slowly begins to smooth itself out as Archie comes to realize that Clara doesn’t want to erase his family’s history from the resort, she just wants to bring it into the current century.
Alice Clayton’s outrageously charming and sexy Hudson Valley series pulls out all the stops in this third installment. Based on a trio of best friends, each book in the series has followed one woman on her path to enlightenment and love. This ultimate opposite attraction romance stars a woman whose love of adventure and tv butts heads with a true blue wing tip shoe traditionalist. Delightful characters, sweltering chemistry, and charmingly witty dialogue offer non-stop entertainment as this couple fusses, fights, and falls madly in love.
“I want you. For as long as I can have you.”
Family is the base on which this story is built and fans will cheer as Clayton throws one huge family reunion with plenty starring roles for the Hudson Valley gang along with cameos from her Cocktail and Redhead series. How I enjoyed seeing everyone again and getting a ringside seat to the shenanigans these people excel at getting up to.
“They’ve done wonders with insulation these days, we can have it added through a small hole down in the base, wouldn’t cost as much as it would have ten years ago and you’d be amazed what it can do not only to help to regulate temperature but also how it and cut down on noise.”
“Mm-hmmm. Thin walls, you know.”
“Oh. Y-yes. I can see how that could be…”
“Don’t worry about it. I‘ve got one just like him at home.”
The lodge itself was a fascinating mixture of family history and tradition. I kept having visions of Dirty Dancing and expecting Clayton to invoke of the spirits of Baby and Johnny. Our intimate look into Clara’s mindset is unique and entertaining as we are given insight into the little things that can make or break a business. Her rows with Archie only add to her appeal as we learn more and more about Clara and her childhood. One aspect that stands out is that Clara, for all her talks of modernization and budget cuts, is fascinated by the Bryants and all the traditions they carry out every day but embarrassed that she herself has none of her own.
Clayton does an excellent job of balancing the conflict with the romance. The resort isn’t the only renovation in the works. Clara too needs to be brought gently out of the past and into the present. Her baggage is weighty and she has cannot see how it affects her even to this day. Clara is so wonderfully effervescent and worthy of everything that is being offered to her that it hurts to watch her struggle with accepting her value and her growing attraction to Archie. Her fear of commitment is so ingrained that she barely owns anything because she is so used to having what she loves ripped from her she has decided it’s better to just not have at all. Having grown up in the foster care system when her drug addict mother is sent to prison, Clara feels unworthy of Archie and all he represents.
I’d never been more painfully aware of just how different I was from Archie than in those silent moments…
Combustible chemistry opens the door to this couple’s bold and lively sexuality; setting the stage for an epic romance though it is slow burning. Physically this couple has no problems but emotionally they are both at a loss on how to act through what is happening. Clara’s fear of commitment leads her to treat Archie like a friend with benefits while posed to run away while Archie is struggling with his guilt over his attraction to another woman and wanting to move forward. He lost his wife to cancer and hasn’t been interested in anyone until he crosses swords with Clara.
“I wasn’t sure I’d even want to do this, after she was gone.”
“Listen, Archie, we don’t have to–”
“Until you, Clara,” he interrupted, his eyes flashing open and searing into mine. “I want you. I fucking want you more than I ever thought possible.” —
Though this particular story tugs a little harder on the heart than the other installments, Clayton makes the ending an exciting finale filled with love, laughter, and some much-needed trust and emotional growth.
Alice Clayton has proven time and time again of her ability to more than hold her own in the romance genre. If you like your contemporaries sexy, funny, and made of pure unadulterated fun then run, don’t walk, and pick up Clayton’s Hudson Valley series.