#XOXperts Review: BUNS by Alice Clayton

Title: Buns
Series: Hudson Valley, #3
Author: Alice Clayton
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback ARC

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.

BUNS is the third and final book in the Hudson Valley series, and can be read as a standalone. I do recommend reading this series in order and in its entirety so you can get familiar with this tight knit group. It’s so nice to see everyone make an appearance in each other’s books.

Unlike the previous books, the story isn’t set on a farm, but rather a hotel. Clara Morgan travels around the country helping dying businesses revamp and rebrand. Archie Bryant is the soon-to-be owner of Bryant Mountain House. Clara’s latest job is get Bryant Mountain House in the black again and start thriving like it should be. That proved to be difficult when Archie had a rebuttal for every idea proposal she made. The entire staff and even guests were all like a family, and the hotel was a legacy, so he was quite protective over it. I found his dedication and safeguarding endearing.

Archie and Clara started to form and solidify a powerful bond that both of them were in desperate need of. In addition to that relationship, they slowly got on each other’s level work wise. Once Archie realized how necessary Clara’s ideas for the hotel are, they worked amazingly well together. He didn’t truly know how bad the hotel was doing until Clara forced him to hear it.

Clara grew up having to be strong and independent, and because of her past she found it hard for her to let people in. While I appreciated her personality and strength, her barriers led to some frustrating moments. There were times I just wanted to shake some sense into her. Her refusal to let Archie in and how she questioned everything when things started to go right. It really made the story drag and feel repetitive, but luckily this only occurred a couple times.

This rom-com had a strong, well-developed storyline. It was full of funny interactions that stemmed from a palpable sexual tension. While they constantly butted heads, it was clear they were both attracted to one another. I loved their sizzling chemistry that really felt authentic. They had sexy, flirtatious scenes and hilarious banter which is always present and on point in Clayton’s writing. I thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming story that had equal parts sweetness, romance, and emotion.

 Visit XOXO After Dark to read an excerpt from BUNS!

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.