Friday, 15 July 2016

Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley #2) by Alice Clayton


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: July 2016.

Everyone has that author, you know the one, the one you pick up to reread, the one that you know with certainty will make you feel better, make you laugh, send your heart into free flight, leave you feeling sated and yet desperate for more? Authors like that are rare gems, once you find them, you never want to let them go, with a rare blend of chick lit, women's fiction and sexy contemporary romance Alice Clayton stands out amongst the crowd, with a unique mix of scintillatingly sexy, uproariously funny and a realness that is often lacking in fiction she cemented her place in my favorite authors.

"You're the brie girl with the great big ass."
"You want to say that again? To my face."
A slow grin spread across his face. "Which part?"
"You know exactly which part."
"Oh, the part about your great big ass?
I blinked in total surprise. "I can't believe you have the balls to say that out loud."
"What, that you've got a great ass?"
"Come again?" I asked, confused.
..... "I love watching your great big ass." 
 In Nuts we were introduced to Natalie Grayson, and Oscar Mendoza, while Oscar is a man of few words, Natalie is a lady of many, fast talking, up front, say it to your face this leading lady certainly isn't a docile wallflower, Natalie has built a successful career knowing exactly how to market any product, with her smart, inventive sales pitches she's cemented herself amongst the cream of the crop, surrounded by friends and a loving family, Everything about Natalie drew me in, her sass, her confident swagger, her don't mess with vibe, her fast talking, quick thinking, and undeniably funny personality hit all the right notes for me to become a devoted fan. So often in books the heroine is either classically beautiful or undergoes an almost She's All That (yeah taking it back to a 90s movie reference with that one) transformation, you know once they remove the nerdy frames or stop dressing in flouncy, baggy clothing we see the hot girl underneath, she'll end up bringing the hero to his knee's and you'll cheer along as she does, however in Cream of the Crop, Natalie is rocking the curvy girl mantra, she's not a size 8 or 10 (I'm talking Australian sizes here) she's got curves, junk in her trunk, breasts women pay for, in a world where the media and fashion magazines tell us that big is not beautiful it's refreshing to see a leading lady sticking up her proverbial middle finger to beauty standards and saying this is me and I'm ready to rock this life. As one of those aforementioned curvy girls, watching her attitude spring forth, seeing the way she commands a room, owns her sexuality, demands respect and then hearing all of her inner most thoughts, from the down right comical to the heartbreakingly raw, left me feeling stronger, had me doubting myself that little bit less, and even allowed me brief moments of reprieve where I could admit to those days that left me feeling battered and bruised without being scared my Queen card would be taken away.

Where Natalie was lively and outgoing, Oscar is quiet and reserved, well maybe that's not entirely an apt description, Oscar lives up to his famous Sesame Street counterpart, he's grouchy and stand offish, his sometimes grunted answers and one word responses are legendary, he's untouchable, lacking a filter or any of those pesky pleasantries one would usual use he's bound to ruffle a few feather, sure he's sexy as sin, and has women just waiting to catch any crumb he may toss their way but no one ever seems to catch his eye. As Natalie bumbles and fumbles her way through their usual Saturday morning market interactions, completely losing her usual effortless cool, we see the stirrings of a man who's on the verge of change.

"Because while Oscar didn't talk much, when he's focused on something, he's all in. Fully present. This kiss, these kisses, they are lazy and unhurried, frantic and frenzied. How can they be both?"

Where Clayton could of just written the perfect romantic comedy and been done with that, she instead seamlessly blended such raw emotion that at times I found myself nodding along, sharing in her moments of heartbreak, in those quiet moments when she doubted herself, in the moments she raged, in the moments when she wandered lost and confused, in those quiet moments I felt that strong connection, the moment that catapults a book from being one I liked to one I loved, and I need to tell you that I loved this book, from the very first page I was hooked, the more I read the further I fell for these characters, the more I wanted to lose myself equally on the streets of New York and on a dairy farm, effortlessly captivating to the very last line, I devoured the words, finishing it in one sitting.
Everything about Cream of the Crop held me captive, while Oscar undoubtedly ticked all the boxes for the alpha hero, what I truly loved so much about this story was Clayton's leading lady, so many times throughout this book I found myself declaring that I wanted to be Natalie when I grew up. Fiercely strong, wildly protective, smart, funny, confident, the ability the kick ass and take names and yet still have this gentle, beautifully raw, vulnerable side, she was a shining example of the true dichotomous nature of women. This uproariously funny, supremely sexy, savvy business woman was everything I look for in a heroine, with touches of Wallbangeresque humour and Redhead heart and the sexy styling that is entirely Clayton Cream of the Crop easily rose to one of my favourite reads this year.

NUTS (Hudson Valley #1):
Nuts & Cream of the Crop PB Bundle:

GPI's review of NUTS:

About Alice Clayton:

ALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop).

She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.

Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog.

Connect with Alice on Facebook

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