Rating: ★★★★★| 9 hrs 59 min | Contemporary | Simon & Schuster | Release Date: 5/23/2017
In 2011, before I’d become a reader again my co-blogger/sister Jess and I were having dinner and I was high-key annoyed with her because she would not shut up about how Twilight fanfiction writers were repackaging and selling their fanfiction. Little did I know that one of those authors, Alice Clayton, would go on to write one of my favorite romances of 2019. Oh, and also one of those authors was a little known writer named EL James…and Christina Lauren
When I’d started this series I had forgotten Clayton was one of these authors but from my research (read: Googlefu), it seems like while her Wallbanger series is re-released Twilight fanfiction the Hudson Valley series is original fiction. I’m still not sure how I feel about people making money off fanfiction but it seems more acceptable now than it used to be.
Buns was the perfect conclusion to this rom-com series about three best friends who are hardworking and passionate in both their professional lives and love lives.
Our heroine in Buns is Clara Morgan, a world-renowned hotel rebranding expert who is one knock out job away from becoming a partner at her firm. Clara heads to Hudson Valley to work her magic and bring Bryant Mountain House, the failing Catskills resort, into the 21st century but Archie Bryant–the owner’s son–refuses to let her have her way.
Oh, and like…the hotel has really good hot cross buns at Easter so…hence the name.
The enemies to lovers trope doesn’t always work for me but what I liked about this one is that from the very beginning both the characters and the reader know why they are “enemies”. Also because the nature of their rivalry is purely professional it doesn’t feel like whiplash when their attraction sparks.
Everything Clayton is doing in this book just absolutely works for me. Her humor is broad and silly that got a few chuckles out of me. Clara is the confident, intense, hot-headed heroine who gets developed perfectly as she learns to lean on other people. Archie was more of a reserved with her own baggage but I thought he was the perfect match for Clara. Of all of the heroes in the Hudson Valley series, I think he got the best development. Also, I don’t know what it says about me but I really like books with heroine grovels.
Clayton’s ability to write competency is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. She really gets into the nitty-gritty of the character’s careers and hobbies in a way that makes you think she’s coming at it from her own experience. There was a tweet thread by a romance influencer about she didn’t need there to be scenes of characters jobs in romance but I think Clayton is a master at weaving the character’s job into the romance in a way that is satisfying.
Also, shout out to the audiobook narrators for this series, they’ve all be great and added something unique to the series. Buns narrator Elizabeth Louise gave an energetic performance as these two professionals spared their way to a HEA. She also did an uncanny job mimicking the voices of the previous narrators.
I was kind of sad to see this is the last book Clayton published but I’ll be on the lookout for what she does next.