Wed
May 17 2017 9:30am

First Look: Alice Clayton’s Buns (May 23, 2017)

Buns by Alice Clayton

Alice Clayton
Buns (Hudson Valley Series #3)
Gallery Books / May 23, 2017 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

Clara Morgan’s ability to turn mud into miracles has kept her in high demand. Hired to help rejuvenate the Bryant Mountain Resort, Clara is excited to work with a historical family owned resort as it appeals to her curiosity of family traditions and their longevity. Having grown up in the foster care system, Clara has spent her life constantly on the move, never stopping long enough to form a deep connection to anything or anyone besides her two best friends, Natalie and Roxie.

Archie Bryant is on board with upgrading his family’s resort, he just doesn't appreciate outside help being brought in. He wants to do it himself at his own pace.  Clara and Archie’s very 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 the resort into this current century.  

The more time Clara spends with Archie and the entire Bryant family and staff, the more she begins to see that family isn’t always a bond determined by blood and love often strikes when you least expect it. When Clara is faced with a choice of the heart, she will have to decide if she has the courage to take a leap of faith or will her fear keep her feet and heart firmly on the ground.

Alice Clayton’s hilariously sexy and oddly bittersweet Hudson Valley series pulls out all the stops in her 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 creme de la creme of ultimate opposite attraction romance stars a woman whose love of adventure and tv butts heads with a true blue wing tip shoe wearing stick in the mud. Engaging characters, charming mayhem, steamy chemistry, and delightfully witty narrative offer nonstop amusement as this couple fusses, fights, and falls madly in love. 

Clara Morgan is a fixer. She is hired to “fix”  failing hotels, motels, resorts, turning them from money pits to money makers. 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 looked 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 easily. 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?

Yeah. That.

Clara meets her match in Archie. A widower who is set to inherit his family’s historical resort when his father steps down, he resents Clara and her ideas.  A traditionalist fully submerged in the history of his family home and keen to preserve it, he feels Clara’s changes are too fast and too radical for his beloved home.

“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?”

Family is the base on which this story is built and Clayton throws one huge family reunion with plenty starring roles for the Hudson Valley gang along with cameos from her Cocktail and Redhead series.  Clayton once again celebrates the joys of strong females and their friendships with plenty of laughter, some unwanted advice, and the always available shoudler to cry on. 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.”

“Noise?”

“Mm-hmmm. Thin walls, you know.”

“Oh. Y-yes. I can see how that could be…”

“Clara?”

“Yes?”

“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 the spirits of Baby and Johnny. The intimate look into Clara’s mindset is a unique and entertaining journey 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 stood out for me is that Clara, for all her talk of modernization and budget cuts, is fascinated by the Bryants and all the traditions they carry out every day but embarrassed by the fact that she has none to call 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 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 outright because she is so used to having what she loves ripped from her she has decided it’s better just to 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…”

Once again, Clayton writes a unique and comedic romance whose subtle but serious undertones and boldly flavored sexuality left this reader cheering and craving some hot cross buns.

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Buns by Alice Clayton, available May 23, 2017:

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Alice Clayton Excerpt: Buns

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Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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4 comments
Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I can't wait for this book! I have loved everything about this series--from the titles, to the tropes. Can't get enough Alice Clayton!
Lucy D
2. Lucy D
So good. I am going to miss Bailey Falls.
Kareni
3. Kareni
This does sound good! Thanks for the First Look.
lauralee1912
4. lauralee1912
Loved the first two books in the trio and am looking forward to Buns. I, too, will miss Bailey Falls.
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