Series: Hudson Valley #3
Published by Gallery Books on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Small Town
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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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.
Alice Clayton takes us for one last ride through her Hudson Valley town of Bailey Falls and I, for one, will miss it.
Alice Clayton has created a Town and family you need to be part of. I hate to see the end of Bailey Falls.
She based the Bryant Mountain House off of a real place in the Hudson Valley, New York known as the Mohonk Mountain House. Take a look and it will help you picture the hotel a little better.
Clara Morgan has come to Bryant Mountain House to help assess where the Bryant Mountain House needs to be revamped in order to draw more clientele. While she was hired by Jonathan Bryant, Bryant Sr. will be retiring soon. Clara needs to focus on convincing Archie Bryant, who would soon be taking the reigns of the old hotel. That being the problem. It was an old hotel and all Clara hears is how this is a tradition and how this is how we have always done it. And if she can’t get Archie to listen to her, he would be the only one left doing things the old Bryant way.
While the hotel itself was gorgeous, and you could see it was built with love, it was also built at the turn of the century, and the rooms still reflected that. They were dated. They were drafty and the heating system was old and failing.
Clara needs to figure out how to merge the past with the future and present it to Archie in a way where he will finally be on board and stop fighting her with every recommendation.
Archie is a bit of a pill. Ever since the death of his wife, all of his focus has been on the hotel. His anger at Clara for trying to upset decades of Bryant Mountain House traditions relights a fire in him. There is a spark between Clara and Archie which Clara tries to fight; first because Archie is her boss on this project and also, as a former foster kid, Clara knows not to get too attached to anything that includes a wonderful man like Archie.
Most of the staff have been there longer than Archie and they are glad to see changes both to the hotel they love and the man who leads them.
I didn’t feel that I laughed as much as I usually do with an Alice Clayton story, and I was saddened that it took so much to get Clara to accept what Archie offered. I loved watching Clara bring Archie back to life and they were a fabulous couple but Clara kept refusing to accept them and go public and it was as frustrating to me as it was to Archie.
The Mountain House gives us a great backdrop for a romance and as it sits right above Bailey Falls, we get to spend time with the friends we have made over the prior books.
It was sad to say goodbye, but a great way to say goodbye and included special guest appearances from certain Wallbangers and crazy redheads just for fun.
A waiter with a tray of glasses appeared out of nowhere. “Ladies, your cocktails.”
“We didn’t order any cocktails,” I started to say, as a glass of bubbly was set down before me.
“Every meal at Bryant Mountain House begins with a champagne cocktail,” he said, setting down the final glass with a flourish.
I inspected the flute, filled to the brim with bubbles and with a tiny sugar cube nestled at the bottom and topped off with a twist of lemon. “Every meal?”
“Or another cocktail if you prefer, maybe a Grasshopper? Pink Squirrel?”
“A Pink Squirrel? What the hell year is this?” Natalie asked through the side of her mouth.
“I’m no longer sure,” I answered, raising the glass to my lips. “Well, shall we?”
We each sipped at the same time, grimaced at the same time like we’d planned it, and quickly set them aside.
“A champagne cocktail, I can’t wait to tell my mom about this, I had no idea they were still doing this up here!” Roxie laughed, reaching into her purse and firing off a quick text to Trudy.
“I take this is another one of those long-standing mountain house traditions?” I asked. “I’ll add that to my list of wow, seriously?”
“How’s it going, by the way? Too soon to tell?” Roxie asked.
“I’m just barely scratching the surface, but I’ve got some thoughts,” I mused.
“It’s amazing up here, isn’t it? I mean, we could never afford to stay here when I was growing up, but we still made it up here for some of the bigger events. Christmas, sometimes Halloween, and they always had the most beautiful Easter Sunday celebration.”
“With the buns,” I reminded her, and she smiled.
“Totally with the buns.”
“Speaking of buns…” Natalie said, and I followed her gaze. There was my tour guide, moving smoothly from table to table, chatting up the guests and charming the blue hair right off those little old ladies. Dressed in a charcoal-gray suit, powder-blue tie, and yet another coordinated pocket square, Archie filled out his attire quite nicely, I had to admit. If Leo was the rugby player and Oscar was the football player, Archie looked like he’d play water polo. Long and lean, his shoulders were broad, his waist slim. And the buns?
Yeah. Even I had to admit they were pretty great.
But I worked for those buns. So…
“Let us not discuss Archie’s buns, okay?” I said, picking up my menu card and examining my choices.
“How’d you know I was talking about Archie?” Natalie said, casting a quick glance at Roxie.
“You weren’t?” I asked.
“Oh, I totally was, but it’s just interesting that you knew immediately who I was talking about when I mentioned that someone in this room, other than me, had a great ass.”
I looked to Roxie for help. “Tell her to stuff it, please and thank you.”
She nodded. “I’ll tell her to stuff it right after you tell us how you knew exactly who she was talking about.”
“We’re not having this discussion, he’s my boss. And an asshole.”
“She’s blushing, she’d totally blushing. Clara never blushes.” Natalie laughed and I held my head in my hands. “You’ve got a crush. You got here yesterday and you’ve got a crush.”
“I’m not blushing. I’m not crushing. I’m trying to eat dinner with my two lunatic friends who came up here to visit me in my new place of work, mind you, and instead all we’re talking about is Archie Bryant’s buns!”
“Samuel,” I heard a deep voice say over my shoulder, “it seems the ladies at table fourteen haven’t gotten their bread basket yet, can you bring that right over?”
“Sure thing, Mr. Bryant.”
Because fate is a funny fucker, standing there with an amused look on his face, knowing full well when I prattle on about his buns they were not of the bread basket variety, was Archie Bryant.
Now I blushed.