Alice Clayton
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Gallery Books
Release Date
May 2017
Book 3 of The Hudson Valley Series
Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy

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.

Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
Apr 06, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
219 people found the following review helpful
Originally posted at Reading Alley:

If Clara Morgan is able to successfully rebrand Bailey Falls' Bryant Mountain House, she's assured her next move will be as partner in one of the best branding agencies in the country. If only Archie Bryant, the son of the man who hired her, would stay out of her way, things would be fanTASTIC. It's just that her lips keep colliding with his every time they were alone…and dammit she doesn't want to stop. Clara is all about living out of a suitcase and working nonstop since she has no family to go home to. Archie's entire existence is based on family and tradition and bonds. They have absolutely nothing in common, but they can enjoy each other while Clara's in town, right?

BUNS is book 3 in the most excellent Hudson Valley series, and like the first 2 books, Ms. Clayton had me sporting a shit-eatin' grin the whole way through. Clara was a HURRICANE! The woman came into Archie's life like a force of nature, and despite the fact that he was still mourning his wife, he found that Clara was this bitchy, bossy, sexy as hell woman who brought light back into his soul. I could totally picture this sprawling Catskill Mountains resort, a lá Dirty Dancing. It made the whole book come alive with imagining the families in the early 20th century who spent summers at those places. Ms. Clayton's gift for description is JUST right (unlike so many writers who tend to get bogged down in adjectives). And the editing made me positively SWOON (what can I say, I'm easy)! I hope there will be more in this funny, sexy series full of love and friendship and celebrating differences.

Bottom Line: No OM/OW or sharing; no condom use; no BDSM/kink; no sexual assault; no violence/murder.
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Book Review by Dawn (reviewer)
Apr 21, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
201 people found the following review helpful
Also posted at Reading Alley:

Clara is great at her job. She takes businesses that are in trouble and she uses her multi-step plan to turn them around, from struggling to thriving. When her services are needed in the town that her two best friends call home, she's sure that this will be the best job yet. What she doesn't expect is to find the owner's son isn't on board with her plans.

Archie likes things the way they are in his family's hotel. The way they've always been. The tried and true methods that they've stuck to for generations. And when a woman comes in from the outside and starts to suggest changes, even if he agrees with them, he can't help but want to reject all of her ideas. The truth, however, isn't that he's startled by the effect that Clara's having on the hotel. It's the effect she's having on him.

This book starts off really well, with Clara and Archie getting off on the wrong foot and butting heads at nearly every turn. He's set in his ways and unhappy with the idea of change while Clara is a straight-forward woman on a mission to turn the hotel on its side. They can't agree on a single thing and their bickering was highly entertaining.

The work tension soon turns into another kind of tension, of the scandalous sort. Our couple have passion in spades and chemistry coming out of their ears. The love scenes were full of spice and well-written. I think the first kiss alone made me sigh in book-reading bliss. I love a little pent-up energy being spent in the bedroom between a couple who challenge each other.

But our characters also each have a past that left them with issues not easily overcome. Archie lost his wife and can't seem to part with his wedding ring. Clara grew up in foster care, unable to form emotional attachments to anyone. Their lust is quick to consume their relationship but the trust and emotion take time to form. The story moved at a steady pace and was filled with interesting secondary characters as well.

My only real problem with the book was that it followed the typical formula that it seems almost all romance stories are going by these days. Man and woman meet and start a relationship, something goes wrong, couple separates for required amount of time, pair reunite and live happily ever after. I would have been more impressed if Archie had followed Clara or if her friends had come to bring her back or anything to stray from the predictable order of events.

Despite that, I really did enjoy this book. I liked the glimpse I got of the characters who star in the first two books of this series and it definitely left me wanting to read their books, too.

In closing...
A steamy read featuring a head-strong woman, a stubborn man, and a priceless mountaintop view. Four stars!
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Book Review by BJ (reviewer)
Apr 24, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
209 people found the following review helpful
Also posted at Reading Alley:

A new top-favorite! I absolutely loved the chemistry and witty dialogue between the hero and heroine in Alice Clayton's third Hudson Valley book, Buns! This is a book where the pages practically turned themselves. From the humor (I love Ms. Clayton's ability to use innuendos and plays on words to spice things up) to the romance and even the resolution of two angst-filled side-stories related to the background of the hero and heroine, everything in this novel worked for me. So much so, that while I enjoyed Cream of the Crop and Nuts, I think Buns is my new series favorite! And best of all, lovers of Ms. Clayton's writing will be thrilled to know that all of the characters from the prior books in this series come back to play a part in Buns (and we are even treated to a cameo appearance by Jack Hamilton and Grace Sheridan--the hero and heroine from Ms. Clayton's first series, Red Head!).

Clara Morgan is moving up in the world. After dedicating her life to her career, her boss has promised her that if she successfully concludes her branding campaign with her new account, the Bryant Mountain Hotel, the golden carrot--partnership--is all hers. Not that Clara needed more motivation as her job is her life, and the fact that she grew up in multiple foster homes and still has no family per se, is only part of the reason that she spends more time on the road re-branding hotels each year than she does in her apartment in Boston. The facts are that she really loves what she does and on her time off, what little she has, she spends it doing other organized activities like running marathons and triathlons and occasionally, when their paths cross, meeting up with her friends, Roxie and Natalie (the heroine's from books 1 and 2).

Little does Clara know, however, that this time she has her job really cut out for her. The Bryant Mountain Hotel has been in business for over 100 years and not too many of its traditions have changed since then--needless to say, it has a number of things that are a little dated. However, the son of the man who hired her, and the man who will be assuming the CEO role next year, Archie Bryant is intent on keeping things the same.

Needless to say, the tension between their two diametrically opposed goals causes instant friction and their snarky encounters in the beginning will leave you panting. Is there any way to merge their goals? Moreover, when all that pent up frustration leads to some explosive and chemically charged encounters, will they be able to resist their mutual attraction? But there is more to Archie's past than at first meets the eye and Clara refuses to share her background too. Can a relationship ever flourish without full disclosure?

What a pleasant treasure! I also loved the hope-filled message that even those who love has failed once can also find their HEA. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Clayton's future works!
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Book Review by Administrator (author,reviewer)
May 10, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
196 people found the following review helpful
Originally posted at Reading Alley:

Out of the three heroines in Alice Clayton's sweet and hilarious Hudson Valley series, Clara Morgan might just be my favorite.

I've been a huge fan of Ms. Clayton's feisty and fun heroines from back when I first picked up Wallbanger, the first book in her Cocktails series.

It's been years and it's been fun.

Like the heroines that came before her in Ms. Clayton's great books, Clara is interesting and multi-faceted and for me, someone prone to falling just a little bit in love with characters that move me –

I couldn't get enough of this book.

I powered through it in hours and even took it with me when I was heading to San Diego for PCA just on the off chance that I could get a few more people interested in the magic that is this series.

And it's all because I truly LOVED Clara.

For me, the moment when I knew I was going to love this book came pretty early on. There's a scene where Clara is getting ready to rent a car to drive to upstate New York to check out the hotel and at first, she goes with this boring but functional beige monstrosity. But then, even though it's winter and there's snow but also mountains, Clara decides to go for the gorgeous sports car because well…

She can.

I just loved that whole scene and the descriptions – of Clara's two choices and the fact that she knows that her appearance may be deceiving thanks to her small size and her raincoat – and the fact that the sports car choice is what actually kinda starts everything with the love-interest-to-be? (Like… she almost hits him with the dang car because it's so not sports-car-driving season. It's fantastic!)

It's such a small moment and maybe not even the biggest or most important one in the book aside from my counting it as a catalyst but I think it sets up her character and makes her immediately likable. Clara is tiny but she's a force of nature with a wild side.

What's not to love about her?

Also, BUNS in many ways is peak romcom. (And that's a good thing!)

Alice Clayton has an amazing way of blending sweet romantic moments with the kind of comedy that makes you do a double-take because it's just so well timed. One of those hilarious moments by the way, is basically bookended by a cameo from Caroline, the heroine in Clayton's Wallbanger.

And in case y'all were wonder, references to both kinds of buns on the cover abound and it's just the sort of stuff I live for.

Now I don't want to spoil BUNS too badly (because seriously, if you're into contemporary romance with fantastic characters, you need to be all over this), but another fantastic aspect to this book is… well… the way that Alice Clayton writes Clara and Archie's backstories.

Look, I love her writing because it tends to be hilarious as heck, but something that I seriously can't stop being pleased as punch about is how she's given Archie and Clara these deep histories that I really wasn't expecting to hit me as hard as they did. They're so deep and rich and you can literally see them impact the choices that they make in and out of the romantic relationship they're trying to build.

Seriously, Clara is my probable favorite out of her, Roxie, and Natalie because of how hard the slow reveal of her backstory hit me. (I was making all of the obnoxious sad faces, y'all.)

And she and Archie get their happy ending! Seriously, I was grinning so hard by the end of the book because it was just so dang satisfying.

BUNS is a super cute and sexy story about two people that find each other and fit together so well. With comfortable, casual banter between the characters and a sweet but intense love story between two people that haven't had the best luck at love before. It's the kind of book that'll leave you feeling warm from the inside out.

(Now, here's hoping that we get a Hudson Valley book with Chad and Logan because that's kind of all I need for this series to be PERFECT.)

If you're a fan of small town stories, feisty characters that take no shit, and some serious emotional sucker punches in your romance novels, BUNS might just be your kind of book.
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