ARC Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

10 Jul 2016

Book Title: Cream of the Crop
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley #2
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
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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Cream of the Crop, the second standalone novel in the Hudson Valley series, is the budding love story between Oscar the grouch, owner of Bailey Falls Creamery and Natalie, New York City advertising executive. Natalie has had her eyes on this big brooding cheese-maker extraordinaire and each Saturday she looks forward to him coming to the New York farmers market so she can get a glimpse of this mysterious, perfect, yet short-on-words man. Natalie is confident and self-assured around men. She has a game and knows how to play it well...until Oscar. She's good to respond with two words...until the next week rolls around. Repeat.


"Oh. Yes."

Alice Clayton has built such a quaint endearing town in Hudson Valley. Where the residents all know each other, the town square is alive and decorated with whatever season is upon us, and it's sure got it's fill of sexy farmers. We met Leo in Nuts and now Oscar, the 6ft-6in hunk of tattooed farmer beauty. When Natalie takes on a project to bring all the attributes of Hudson Valley into the spotlight to promote tourism, she finds herself from city girl to loving her inner country girl. And the best part of Hudson Valley, yeah, the grouchy cheese maker...

"Think Oscar might stumble into you with his nuts?" 

"He's a dairy farmer," I said, laughing. "I've been more focused on his milk can."

Clayton took a different angle in this book that we don't see very often. Natalie is a very voluptuous size 18 and embraces every inch of her hips, thighs and big..fat ass. And Oscar too appreciates her big...fat ass. It's refreshing to see a perfectly imperfect heroine for once in our stories. Not this pinup perfection we come to expect these days. I do have to say, however, that I felt it just a bit too much a focus. Almost feeling like a point was being made instead of a different spin on heroine choice. Once being plus-sized myself, I respect her character choice, I just felt a lot of time was spent on her big...fat ass lingo. Oscar sure appreciated it nonetheless. And her self-confidence was rocking.

I used to think abuse was someone getting hit. Now I know it's anything that makes you double over with pain, that makes you question anything and everything about yourself that you knew to be true. It's anything that tells you that you're only good if...

Cream of the Crop is one of those tropes where you take two people who are very much different, from different walks of life, and they still fall hopelessly in love. But can this big city girl give up her city life of stilettos and fine dining to go live in the country with dairy cows and noisy crickets?

An endearingly cute story low on angst, high on good feels, and just all-around enjoyable. We also got to catch up with Leo and Roxie from Nuts and their flourishing life together. Looking forward to the next installment in the Hudson Valley series. I'd love to see Alice Clayton dip her toes into MM with the lovely Chad and Logan story.... But instead I suspect it'll be between a struggling resort proprietor named Archie and a hired "fixer of failing businesses" Clara.

Advanced copy received by author in exchange for my honest review.

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.

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