Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Buns by Alice Clayton

Title: Buns
Series: Hudson Valley #3
Author: Alice Clayton
Release date: May 23, 2017
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4 stars

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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I'm a fairly new fan of Alice Clayton, but judging by what I've read in the Hudson Valley series so far, I can see myself becoming a devoted follower for a long time to come. I'm going to be perfectly honest. In the beginning of this book, I had serious concerns that I could ever root for Archie Bryant. I certainly didn't anticipate that I would finish the book not only liking him, but loving him.

The man starts out so dull and ill-humored, a bit snobbish, and critical of the very air that Clara breathes. From the moment she arrives at his family's historical hotel to bring life back to the old-fashioned business, sparks were flying. But not the sexual chemistry variety. Oh, no. Archie is the fifth generation owner of Bryant Mountain House, and his entire life he's been steeped in the splendor of its staid history and traditions. He didn't need some newcomer waltzing in and fixing what isn't broken. He may be stubborn as a mule, but he's no match for Clara's whirlwind energy and resolve. This hotel rebrand is the key to her pending promotion, and nothing will stop her from getting the job done.

I wouldn't necessarily say that this was an enemies to lovers trope, but there was some considerable hostile confrontations arising between them. Both competitive and unwilling to back down, Clara certainly had her work cut out for her. I really enjoyed that confidence in her that allowed her to go toe to toe without batting an eye. But we soon see that her exterior is hiding quite a bit of pain under the surface.

Abandonment issues, and fear of letting people in are causing her to block any lasting relationships besides Natalie and Roxie. Growing up in Foster care, she's learned that the only one she can depend on is herself. But eventually, she realizes that Archie is hiding a world of hurt himself, and their animosity dies with their deeper knowledge of each other. And as much as she's tempted to pursue their growing attraction, there are a multitude of reasons why it would be reckless to do so.

A) Mixing business with pleasure: never wise.
B) She's leaving when the job is over.
C) Getting involved with him is a responsibility she isn't sure she's ready for.
And D) Most important of all....having and inevitably losing him would be enough to break her.

Secretly, underneath her independent streak a mile wide, lies the desire to be part of a real family. To have someone special who would always be there for her. But she doesn't dare show her dreams of happily ever after. Once Archie loosens up, he has a monumental battle ahead of him in helping her realize that what she is looking for is right in front of her. If she's only brave enough to take the leap of faith.

I wanted to be inside. Oh God, I wanted it more than anything. I wanted my own piece of it, my piece of this American pie that everyone else had. To be included, in step, in touch, cared for and caring, inside. But could I do it?

Though they had so many differences such as their childhoods and life experiences, they were both strong individuals who recognized their faults and learned to overcome them. And let me tell you, when they finally gave in to the passion being suppressed, the results were so unexpectedly powerful. It really surprised me how beautiful it was when they let their hearts reach out to each other.

I've really enjoyed each book in this series, but what I liked about Buns was the fact that both the hero/heroine were so unique and refreshing from the other main characters in the previous books. The beginning was a tad slow for me due to my disconnect with the hero, but the last half more than made up for it. And the ending finishes you off on such a sweet and romantic note, I left the story feeling truly delighted over how far they've grown together. I can't wait to see what this author has to offer us next.


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