November 9, 2015

REVIEW: Nuts (Hudson Valley #1)

Nuts (Hudson Valley #1), by Alice Clayton
Publish Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: paperback, borrow with thanks from Jen at At Random
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she's back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly…and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown?

Beware - NUTS will inspire you. It will have you Googling "CSAs in my area" before you reach the last page. You will drive by yard sales and then back up and look around for old church cookbooks. You will run every time a bee comes anywhere near your cleavage. (I actually already did that last one - Nuts just validated my actions.) And you will be singing "Summer Lovin'" from Grease under your breath for weeks.

Sick of her small town and her neurotic mother, Roxie books it to California to attend culinary school and then work as a private chef for stuck-up narcissistic Hollywood bimbos. But, when she's forced to come back home and run the family diner while her mom travels the world, she does so under extreme protest. Fearful of getting sucked back into the life she hates, she resolves to remain apart and aloof from all of it. 

And, then she runs into Leo. Literally. And, he and his farm start to change Roxie's mind about a lot of things. But, after hating her small hometown for so long, she might have forgotten how to feel any other way about it. 

Roxie was a tough nut to crack (pun totally intended). She was, at the same time, open to trying new things and resistant to change. She makes a few changes to the diner menu, makes new friends, starts thinking about new business ventures in her hometown, and considers the possibility of getting attached to hot farmer Leo. And yet, she sticks to her notion that, once the summer's over, she will return to California. Drove. Me. Crazy.

Leo was all that and a box of rutabaga. I absolutely loved him. He was smart and earthy and his relationship with Roxie is a sweet, slow simmer. He's such a lighthearted man, I had no idea he could be so filthy when the situation called for it! But, oh. He SO could. His and Roxie's relationship was adorable. Their banter was adorable, and I loved the shared love of food - he grows it, and she cooks it. He's her own personal Almonzo Wilder, and as a fellow Manly lover, I can relate to that obsession.

Speaking of food, that's the best part about Nuts. This book is a foodie lover's dream. Roxie seemingly can cook anything - from fancy fois gras to grandma's black walnut cake. And, thankfully, Alice Clayton goes into delicious detail on all of it. I must confess - I'm not a big cake eater. But, while I was reading Nuts, I wanted to bake and eat cake like no one's business. I think Alice Clayton needs to make a cookbook based on Nuts. I want these recipes. 

I'm highly anticipating the next Hudson Valley book. I want more awesome food porn. I want more Bailey Falls and Roxie, Leo and their friends. I want to know what happens between Oscar and Natalie! And I just can't get enough of Alice Clayton and the humor she injects, seemingly effortlessly, into her books. 

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