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.
Alice Clayton is back haunting the Hudson Valley and this time she brought Clara and Archie and whole pile of shenanigans.
Clara Morgan is many things including accomplished, self-reliant, confident, intelligent, competent, loyal, and terrified of loving anyone and putting down roots. In an effort to avoid those last two, Clara has assiduously avoided romantic entanglements and devoted her life to travelling all over the country helping hotels and resorts rebrand themselves and become more successful. Clara excels at her job and loves her life. Or so she thought.
The moment Clara steps foot on the property of Bryant Mountain House resort she knows she has her work cut out for her and relishes the challenge. The elder Archie Bryant invited Clara to rebrand the resort, but it’s his son, also Archie whom Clara is to work most closely with. If she thought the resort rebranding was going to be a challenge, well, she hasn’t met the younger Archie Bryant yet. At every turn and with every pronouncement, the resort owner with the smashing butt defies challenges, and contradicts Clara. For as much anger and frustration as Archie causes Clara, he also interests her and forces her to confront the fact she isn’t as happy with her life as she thought.
Sweet, sexy, nerdy Archie Bryant loves his home and has no desire to see its history and traditions trampled on by the likes of Clara Morgan. With her bold, brash, confidence she outlines plan after plan for rebranding Archie’s beloved resort. Clara is suggesting changes, renovations, alterations, and upheaval that makes Archie’s head spin. Inconceivably, Archie seems to be the only one among the staff who is opposed to such calamity. In an effort to save his home, Archie defies Clara at every turn, he contradicts her, and stubbornly refuses to accept her ideas. He also has to deal with the fact that he is tremendously attracted to the little firebrand and that’s not helping the situation . . . at all.
As days turn into weeks, Archie slowly begins to accept the inevitable, his resort is going to undergo changes. However, the more he gets to know Clara, the more he understands she doesn’t want to destroy his home, his resort, and the traditions of the site, but preserve them and bring them into the 21st century. Clara wants Bryant Mountain House to be restored to its former glory and that is something Archie can get behind. Being behind Clara isn’t half bad either and it isn’t long before Archie realizes the extent of his feelings for Clara. Unfortunately, as his feelings grow, Clara becomes more resistant.
Clara is very aware of Archie and his feelings and that scares the ever-loving crap out of her! So much so, that when her professional life takes a most unexpected turn, Clara uses it as an excuse to escape the uncomfortable feelings caused by Archie and his feelings. Clara has too much personal baggage to ever settle down and being with Archie for the long-term would simply be disastrous. Besides, her career has always come first and satisfied her, so why upset the apple cart now? Says Clara to herself as she sits miserably in her lonely apartment far, far away from the man and place she accidentally fell in love with . . . . . Fixing the situation isn’t going to be easy, but Clara is determined and most fall in the face of Clara Morgan’s logic, reasoning, and loud arguments 😊
The Bottom Line: I like the first two-thirds of this book and simply adored the final one-third!! The first two-thirds of this read have some great moments, some excellent fights, some great conversations with old friends (Bombshell is on a roll in this one!) and a few naughty bits, but it is in the final one-third of the book that everything shines. It isn’t until Clara screws everything up with her ridiculous notions about love, commitment, and putting down roots that the read really takes off. Fixing her mess isn’t easy and Archie is so very heartbroken that it takes a monumental move to set things right. The. Move. Is. Monumental. The highlights of this read include Archie and the characters from the first two Hudson Valley books. These richly written and developed characters populate a world that is believable, funny, emotional, and engaging. I don’t know that this is the end of the Hudson Valley series, but if it is, Buns is a fitting ending to what has been another excellent series from Alice Clayton!