Alice Clayton is back with more romantic comedy fun in the Hudson Valley. This time, she’s trading hot farmer heroes for a hot hotel owner. Clara Morgan is a hotel rebranding expert brought in to to help revitalize the Bryant Mountain House Resort – a massive family-owned hotel resort in upstate New York that is struggling to adapt to the times. Archie Bryant, soon to be the head honcho in charge when his father retires in the upcoming year, is reluctant to make any changes at all. Ruh-roh! Time for the butting of the heads!
One of my favorite things about this whole book is how good Clara is at her job. She’s not suggesting stupid generic things. She suggests things that still keep the spirit of the place. She suggests money-saving options for things that aren’t working and haven’t been working for years. Archie eventually can’t help but be swayed because her ideas are good and solid. Professional competency floats my boat, apparently.
On the surface, this is an opposites attract romance. Clara’s whole job is to suggest changes for the resort, while Archie wants to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Clara is the kind of person who is always running and never stays in one place and Archie is as steadfast, dependable, and tied-down as one can be. He loves everything about his family’s resort and doesn’t long to be anywhere else but there. Deeper down, though, Clara and Archie have more in common than they first appear to. Among other things, they both have fiercely loyal loved ones and neither is looking for a long-term relationship, because they both know how it feels to be left behind.
Clara and Archie are a fun pair and their chemistry is palpable. They compliment and challenge each other.
“I’m telling you, it’s always the guys with the freckles and the glasses. They’re the ones you want to set your sights on. They’re the ones who’ll make you forget your name, but get you to say the filthiest things imaginable.”
The biggest obstacle to their happy ever after is overcoming Clara’s tendency to run for the hills. Part of this is necessity, as the nature of her job means she goes somewhere new every few months. But a much bigger part of it is a coping mechanism from her childhood in foster care. If she’s never in one place too long, then she can’t make lasting attachments and become vulnerable. Her BFFs (heroines of the previous books in the series, naturally) are the only exceptions, and even they get far less of her than they’d like. Clara’s got decades of experience running when things get messy. So staying, even when she wants to, is really hard.
This is overall a really nice conclusion to the Hudson Valley trilogy with likable leads, great friends, a super fun setting, and a marvelous grand gesture/grovel ending. I’m sad to leave the Hudson Valley, but, boy, was the ride enjoyable.
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.
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