Alice Clayton returns to the blog today with the third in her Hudson Valley contemporary romantic series, narrated by Elizabeth Louise and Jason Carpenter. Please read on for my review of
I’ve not listened to any of the titles in Clayton’s Hudson Valley series, but with the title, cover art and narrative team of Elizabeth Louise and Jason Carpenter, I couldn’t resist. Easily read on its own, the story is focused on the Bryant Mountain House, a run-down family-owned resort known for 150 years of tradition and the to-die-for, gooey, sweet hot cross buns. Clara is a rebranding expert in the industry, hired by the Bryant family to bring the resort into a more modern feel and bring in new clients. She’s good at her job and has plenty of ideas, if not many traditions from her rather difficult upbringing. Archie Bryant is stuck in the past – he’s not wanting things to change too much, and he’s certain that Clara can’t keep the feel that he knows of the old place and still make things work well enough to stay open. The resort is his touchstone and sole focus after losing the love of his life, and anyone who wants to change that and alter his memories will be in for a fight.
Clever and fun, if a bit familiar from the trope standpoint, Clara and Archie have instant chemistry which both are fighting tooth and nail. Neither is particularly open to a relationship: Archie is still in love with his wife and sees no reason to change that. Clara, having been raised in foster care with an unstable and drug-addicted mother never really set down roots and built relationships, moving from place to place and always looking for that next moment. The life on the road with few commitments to stick around suits her well, and she’s using her past to keep her future at bay. But chemistry cannot be denied – and Archie’s honest approach to life, love and the comfort that comes with having a place in the world that is wrapped up in family, memories, friendships and traditions are all wishes that Clara holds, even if she can’t bring herself to voice them, or even acknowledge those dreams. A bit on the predictable side in terms of progression, the characters are engaging and there isn’t a ton of angst mixed in, allowing the electric chemistry to sparkle and keep the story moving.
The duo of Elizabeth Louise and Jason Carpenter present the narration for this story, and their pairing is wonderfully evocative of the moments in the relationship between Archie and Clara. From the moments where Clara knows what she can do to improve things against Archie’s rather grudging approach to allowing them, through the changes he experiences as he sees the increase in traffic and happy guests, they move the story forward and present each character with appropriate emotional overlays, stridency or hesitancy, and make the story easy to listen to. Dual narrations can get tricky, and these two navigate both the voices and patois of each main characters, but present voices distinct enough in tone and delivery for secondary characters: each was clearly identifiable by voice, and voice that came with an emotion appropriate to their moment. A solid performance of a good story, familiar to frequent romance readers but enjoyable nonetheless.
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration 5 Story 3
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Narrator: Elizabeth Louise, Jason Carpenter
Published by: Gallery Books, SimonandSchuster.com/Audio
Published on: 23 May, 2017
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 59 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
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.
See the Hudson Valley Series on Goodreads
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.