Hudson Valley #3


Alice Clayton


Clara is immersed in her job. She lives and breathes it and not much has room beside it except her two best friends who live in a small town called Bailey Falls. Her apartment is a place she sleeps in but it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “home”. Just as well, because she isn’t at home much anyway, her job requires a lot of travelling. She specializes in rebranding and has made a name for herself in her profession. This time her job sends her to an old luxury resort, the Bryant Mountain House. Wild guess where this resort is located? Yup, upstate New York, Bailey Falls. 
Upon arrival she has her first unpleasant encounter with the owner’s son, Archie and let me tell you, he seems to be exactly what you expect from a guy with such an archaic name. Old-fashioned. Proud of the Bryant traditions and history. Stuffy. And mostly composed. Unless you are a tiny whirlwind of a woman called Clara. Archie and the rebranding specialist are supposed to work together to rejuvenate the run-down resort and the cooperation goes everything but smooth. 
Soon they fight over every detail and it seems whatever Clara suggests, Archie is against it just for the heck of it.

“You’re incredibly rude, a know-it-all wrecking-ball girl who is more than a little bossy.”
I laughed in spite of myself. “What lovely things to say, coming from a pretentious, snobby, incredibly rude himself hotel boy who’d rather rattle around spooky hallways and spend time with antiques than listen to reason.”

Faster than he thought he has to admit though that Clara’s strategy is successful. And that bites. It also bites that there is an undeniable spark between them and once it’s fully ignited it burns bright. Clara finds herself wanting more but her past has shown her that people don’t stay. They all leave at some point so she armors up her heart and seals it tight.

Clara is an immensely independent woman. She has been hurt too often and attaching yourself to somebody only sets you up for more pain. While her past is really sad she still has kept her lively and sprightly attitude and takes great pleasure in riling Archie up. Her bossiness was hilarious. Her abandonment issues are understandable but I couldn’t help to get a tiny bit frustrated with her towards the end. Yet, Clara was an endearing and fun heroine.
Archie is so stiff and buttoned-up when we start out on this journey. you want to give him a hug and tickle him silly. His love and respect for his extended family runs deep. He also has had his own share of pain. Archie is a man of old stock and tradition –  the pain that comes with change makes him adverse to it so he fights Clara with teeth and nails. 
The more he interacts the more he loosens up though and when he does he becomes this adorable sweet guy who is crazy about Clara.

He gazed down at me, an expression I couldn’t quite identify on his face. “You’re a bit wonderful.”

Archie has a past we unfortunately only learn a little bit about and I would have liked to see some flashes of what he was like when he was younger. Has he always been this severe? I suppose not because the guy has a sense of humor to boot and when it comes out to play it’s a blast. I just wanted to have something more substantial on him. Nevertheless he was a delightful male lead.

My girl was wild. And loud. And obnoxious. And irritating. And bossy as all get out. And I wouldn’t have her any other way.

Clara and Archie are so different but that’s what provides the tension in this story. They complement each other and the result is better than the sum of its parts making their banter delightfully funny.

“Who chases someone up a mountain?”
“Who runs away from someone chasing them up a mountain?” I fired back.
“I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Talk to me? You want to talk to me, you ask me. You request a meeting, you send me an email, hell, you pass me a note while I’m sitting next to you at a meeting for Pete’s sake, you don’t chase me up a mountain!”

When they give in to their desire it’s downright hot and let me say…I did not expect Archie to be such a sensual man. 

This was my first journey into a small town called Bailey Falls and I’m utterly charmed. I loved the side cast of this story a lot. They completed the picture of our main characters. Ms Clayton’s writing style is effortless and humorous and so evenly paced, I was instantly a fan. Now I need to find the time to read the backlist of this author because I have a new favorite!

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