[Book Review] Buns by Alice Clayton

Title: Buns (Hudson Valley #3)
Author: Alice Clayton
Rating:  Recommended
Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance, Comedy, Found Family
Release Date: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Gallery Books


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All of the views in this review are my own.

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.

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 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 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.