Alice Clayton     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hudson Valley
Book: 3

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.

Clara Morgan is sent up to Bailey’s Falls, New York to help rebrand the Byrant Mountain House. This is just another promising gig to her that might lead to a potential partnership at her firm. However, what should be a quick and easy score is turning into a bit of a challenge as the owner’s son challenge her every decision.

Archie Bryant loves his family house just as it is.  He doesn’t want his father to rid the hotel of its natural charm. He is prepared to go toe-to-toe with Clara if it means saving the business.  Clara slowly charms him and he is not sure he can withstand the battle with petite hot head any further.

I loved Clara’s character and how she dealt with the romance. Clara didn’t grow up with a strong family unit. She has some heavy baggage with her. Her work and her friends really are the only things she has going for herself. She is strong and independent. She built some pretty high walls around her to keep her safe and I admire that about her. I loved how Archie came right in and chipped away at all her defenses. He knows when and how to push her forward.

Archie is a character who takes time to grow on you. I initially thought he was stuffy and proper.  However, I realized that he loves his family’s hotel and is willing to do anything to ensure that it remains the same.  Archie is holding onto some serious pain and the readers get a chance to see into why he is a bit guarded.  Actually, once he recognizes his attraction to Clara, he handles his past a lot better than I thought he would.

He laughed then, and it was magic. And it was into this magic that I did walk over to him, reach up toward him, not with my lips but with my hand, and gently brushed back the shock of auburn hair that had fallen down over his forehead. He closed his eyes, then instantly leaned into my touch, almost like a cat. Jesus, when was the last time some had touched this guy?

I would have to say that I loved this book the best out of all of the series. While I do appreciate the authors ability to make me laugh or should I say holler (I did that a few times with the previous books), it was her ability to dig into the romantic elements in Buns that got to me. Archie and Clara’s story is a typical enemies-to-lovers romance. The romance takes a slow and more meaningful turn in the book.  These are two characters who felt authentically perfect together.

All of the characters from the previous books were back. I loved seeing what happened with Roxy and Leo. It was great catching up with Natalie and Oscar and even Chad and Logan. Small town romances have a quaint and cozy spot in my heart.

Overall, romance readers will love this delightful, funny and romantic story.

~ Samantha