ARC Review | Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Title: Cream of the Crop
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Comedy
Release date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 384
Format: eARC/Paperback
Source: Digital ARC via NetGalley <Bocci PR>
             Paperback via XOXO After Dark <XOXperts>

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!
Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.
Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.
Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?

Sexy, witty banter that will have you thirsting for more and more!

Natalie Grayson is a tigress! She’s blunt, fierce, cheeky, curvy, and gorgeous all over. Her marketing career leads her to Bailey Falls where she interacts with a whole group of people that are vastly different from her NYC crowd. One farmer in particular has her sights firmly grasped.

Oscar Mendoza, dairy farmer extraordinaire is a stoic chap. His beautiful tats and dairy do all the talking, because her comes off as quiet and closed off to everyone. Yet the sexy, New Yorker who makes a splash in town gets him to open up to her.

I loved the early, brief interactions Natalie and Oscar had. We continuously see Natalie as this supremely confident woman, but when she’s first around him, she’s a sputtering mess. It’s nice to see her less than confident side. Their encounters start off cute and simple, as a nice lead up to their more steamier scenes.

At first I wasn’t feeling the connection between them. I mean, clearly they had some serious sexual attraction, but I didn’t sense anything more than mere lust. It wasn’t until the ending began to approach that I got a feel for that spark of “more” that seemed lacking throughout. I think because their first big interaction was so hot and heavy, and then there was constant sex scenes, there left no room for the true romance to be showcased.

I usually immediately fall in love with Alice Clayton’s books because the first few pages typically have the heroine’s inner dialogue which is always on point. This time around however, it took me a while to get into, because it seemed heavily descriptive. It was a bumpy intro for me as the tone and setting was set up.
Natalie is a plus size gal, size 18 to be exact. I found this to be a refreshing factor in the story. I didn’t mind the few moments of self-doubt concerning her body, because she exuded enough confidence to make them get thrown out. Yet, I got close to eye rolling here and there with the amount of times her body was described and that kind of thing. I get it. You’re curvy, confident and can rock a pair of Chanel boots. Good on ya, mate. Let’s move on.

This standalone in the Hudson Valley series has many of the ingredients Clayton usually cooks with so fans will be delighted with this breezy read. I do recommend delving into Nuts first. It’s a great starter to the series and you can get an introduction to Natalie and Oscar before starting their story of city meets country.

After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she's back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly... and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown? 

ALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop).
She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.
Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog

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