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5 perfect stars!
Oh, I love, love, love this book! Smart, funny and gorgeously romantic with wonderful characters, great dynamics and immature (but still very adult) innuendos and humour, it is everything that I love about Alice Clayton. It’s my favourite of the Hudson Valley books and finishes off the series beautifully!
Clara is the third in a trio of girlfriends whose stories make up this series. After a difficult childhood, her career is now her life and she is the best at what she does – rebranding and rejuvenating struggling hotels. Her job keeps her moving around, which is exactly the way she likes it as she desperately avoids putting down her own roots and keeping clear of any kind of personal attachment (apart from her beloved girls of course).
Her latest job brings her to Bailey Falls – the town where her two friends Roxie and Natalie have unexpectedly found the loves of their lives. She is working at the historic and prestigious Bryant Mountain House which badly needs to be dragged into modern times, but while most people are welcoming of her presence, the son of the hotel’s current owner and the man destined to run it one day, Archie Bryant, wants nothing to do with the woman coming in to trample all over his family’s legacy.
The scene is set for an epic battle of wills, and OMG I loved every moment of it!
“I forgot a detail I read in your file. Won’t happen again.”
“You don’t think I’d let my father hire someone to turn our entire world upside down and not do my due diligence to make sure she’s qualified, do you?”
My eyes boggled. “A file. You’ve got a file on me. Wow.”
“Wow as in, dude, that’s weird.”
Now his eyes boggled. “Dude? Did you just call me dude?”
“Dude, I also called you weird. How did you miss that part?”
The banter flies thick and fast as Clara and Archie clash over absolutely everything! He doesn’t want her there, and he makes no secret of the fact, arguing constantly with her and making her job so much harder than it needs to be. But underneath it all is a simmering chemistry, and when Clara learns that her nemesis used to be different before the tragic death of his wife years earlier, she starts to see him as human and things begin to change.
The shift from enemies to sort-of-friends-who-madly-lust-after-each-other is really well done, with lots of sweet moments, funny moments, and sizzling sexual chemistry. You can feel the want that builds between the two of them, and the pacing is fantastic as they feel it all but don’t rush into anything, and the emotion between them is beautifully explored.
“I wasn’t sure I’d even want to do this, after she was gone.”
“Listen, Archie, we don’t have to–”
“Until you, Clara,” he interrupted, his eyes flashing open and searing into mine. “I want you I fucking want you more than I ever thought possible.”
And as the flirting, teasing and innuendo reaches boiling point, it’s hotter than all hell as they decide to just go with what they’re feeling, for however long they are able to have it.
“I’ll have to go away one day. And I don’t know what will happen then, which makes me so fucking selfish for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I want you. For as long as I can have you.”
I just love these characters. They both have pain in their past, and Clara has walls around her, but they are open about what’s happening between them and I love that they throw themselves right in there. And in typical Alice Clayton style, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments, the dialogue is spot-on, and the romance is easy, natural and believable.
But Clara’s walls are tall, and she is only in town for a limited time. Will she be brave enough to accept what she is feeling and follow her heart, accepting that the gorgeous widower and his mountain – and all that comes with that – are the best thing that ever happened to her? Or will her debilitating fears keep her running?
This book is such a great read. It’s fun, romantic and beautifully emotional. I could understand and empathise with both Clara and Archie and their struggles to let the other in, and I was completely swept up in their developing love story. There’s a bit of angst but it’s well handled and resolved well, and the book finishes in a great place.
You’re here and I’m here and we’re here and this is so much more than enough because it’s everything.
There’s lots of time spent with the characters from previous books of the series, and I loved catching up with all of them. There’s progression for both of the previous couples, and seeing the full group all together is a real treat. And Clayton fans will love the cameos from both of her other series.
I also really enjoyed the HGTV-esque storyline of the hotel, which was entertaining and interesting, and was woven into the story perfectly without overpowering the romance (and the Dirty Dancing/Kellerman’s references were awesome!).
I loved everything about it, and couldn’t put it down. I laughed and I swooned, and I fell in complete love with Archie. The romance is sweet, funny and passionate, and I finished this book with a huge grin on my face and hugging my kindle.
Absolutely fantastic! 5 stars!
An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Hudson Valley series
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