Alice Clayton’s books have been a long-time favorite of mine. I love how fun they are to read, how they manage to tout the perfect mix of romance and humor. I’m so excited about her next novel, Buns—out May 23rd! As we all anxiously await its arrival, I have an exclusive sneak peek, plus your chance to win a print copy of the book!
The third in the hilarious yet sizzling hot Hudson Valley series from New York Time and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton.
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.
It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.
I stayed to the right as directed and began to wind my way up up up. The road twisted and turned to the top of the mountain underneath the late-afternoon sky, which was thickening with storm clouds and an ever-increasing gloom. On my left the hillside was covered in trees and thick brambles that’d be bursting with green in a month or so. On the other side the road fell off sharply, the trees giving way every so often to showcase fallen boulders, craggy and rough. I spied a trailhead, clearly marked for guests of Bryant Mountain House, winding into the forest.
The hiking must be incredible up here.
Making a mental note to investigate the off-season trails, I continued up the hill, which at this point was quickly becoming the Mountain in Bryant Mountain House. Turning my wipers up another notch against the now-steady rainfall, I turned around the final bend and there, finally, was the resort.
At least, there was part of it. The enormity of this single structure was too great to be captured in just the windshield of my tiny, impractical, andwholly unsuited for mountain terrain sports car. But what I could see was impressive as hell.
I drove under a stand of weeping willows planted along the road like soldiers, arching across and creating a tunnel effect that in summertime must be stunning. At the ass-end of winter and the equally-as-ugly beginning of spring, the bare limbs feathered together, slick with slush and almost gnarled. Not entirely welcoming.
Shivering slightly, I continued through the archway, getting my next peek at the resort. Rising high into the air, the east wing loomed up suddenly—the real money shot being either the mountain view to the west or the lake view to the east. Six, no, seven stories climbed against the wintry sky. I slowed to a stop to appreciate the architecture—fieldstone mixed with deeply burnished redwood, green shutters, soaring high gray stone chimneys. I whistled as I hit the gas again, once more twisting into the dark woods that surrounded the property. I passed several barns, the stables, the summer garden, and glimpsed just the edge of the championship golf course.
And then the road swung me back around to the front of the resort and the edge of the parking lot. One look at how fast the rain was falling and I immediately opted for valet and gunned it for the covered entryway.
Gunning it in a rain that’s bordering on icy sleet isn’t wise in a boring beige Corolla, and it is for damn sure not recom- mended in a shiny red sports car with rear-wheel drive. I spun out on the last turn, my back end slipping wildly as I clutched the wheel and tried to straighten out. I overcorrected, swung wide, and out of the corner of my eye I caught a man dressed in a green slicker and matching hat gesturing, holding out his hands and yelling.
“Look out!” I cried.
“Stop!” he cried.
I thumped the curb and missed hitting the rain slicker guy
by mere inches, who threw himself to the side at the last second, tumbling into a large shrub.
“Oh my God,” I whispered to myself, everything suddenly quiet. I looked through the wipers and saw galoshes kicking in the air, the shrub branches thrashing wildly as the man I’d nearly hit fought to climb back out. “Oh my God!”
I jumped out of the car, ran over to the shrub just as he was pulling himself loose. “I’m so sorry, oh no, are you okay? I’m so sorry!”
His raincoat, emblazoned with the words Bryant Mountain House, was caught on a limb, his hat was hanging off the back of his head by the string, and one of his galoshes had come loose.
“Oh, for pity’s sake!” he exclaimed, tugging at the branch.
“Can I help you?” I asked, reaching for the tangled limb.
“No no, I think you’ve done enough,” he snapped.
“Well, let me at least see if I can—”
“It’s fine, don’t do that—”
“I think I found where it’s stuck, just—”
“Don’t do that, it’s going to tear, it’s really fine, it’s—watch
The branch tore free, taking with it half of the raincoat, thwapping him upside the head as it rustled and resettled back into the bush.
“Wow, I can’t believe that just . . . I’m so sorry.”
“It’s. Fine.” He spoke through gritted teeth.
The two of us stared at each other. I felt terrible. He looked frustrated.
I clasped my hands behind my back, looked around, then
tried to smile. “So, where do I check in?”
Series reading order
Each can be read as a standalone
To win a print copy of the book:
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U.S. entrants only, winner chosen Sunday, April 30th
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