(Book #1 of The Hudson Valley Series)
By Alice Clayton
Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster |
Trade Paperback & E-Book: 320 pages |
Simon and Schuster Audio |Shayna Thibodeaux and Sebastian York | 8:56
Purchased. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.
When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?
Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.
I L.O.V.E.D. Unidentified Redhead Series series by Alice Clayton, but wasn’t too crazy about the author’s Cocktail Series. However, I thought the cover for this book was gorgeous and I like culinary fiction so, when an ARC wasn’t forthcoming I bought it.
It is a classic quest story with a Xena, or Diana instead of a Jason, or Parsifal, etc. I didn’t realize that until I began to write this post. While the inception of the tale is a little over the top, it does provide the impetus to make our heroine start off on her quest. What is the quest for? A stable business, a resolution of her past? Or, is her quest just to keep going in a tough profession despite the caprices of her clientelle?
But her quest is essentially finding herself. Her business in LA is dependent on the caprices of wealthy women who enjoy playing with the lives of their servants. In the magic of the story this happens at the same time as the call to go home. It’s a small town, where there have been few changes since she left. It’s almost been magically preserved (but not). That’s the problem with going home after many years: in one’s mind the people, the town and the gossip all stays the same. In reality however, even if every building is the same color it was when one left the community usually changes.
As the heroine arrives on the east coast, the quest takes a back seat to a romance. Or, does it? Clayton strikes a balance between the contemporary romance and the quest theme. It is a very loose relationship between the archetypal story and the contemporary one.
The story heats up as the heroine finds the hero wildly attractive. But like a fairy tale of old, there is some kind of mystery: the hero brings her magic beans, berries or something, but she doesn’t know where he lives. Is he the beast? Is he making dancing slippers, does he have to return to his tower every day until he is rescued. Yes, well, No, well, kind of.
So the story has a home town feel, deals with sex, relationship and parenting issues, and a big surprise. One I didn’t see coming.
The narration was good too with the narrators seamlessly providing a listening experience that defined and portrayed the characters.
I loved the story, loved the Catskill setting, loved the characters in all their hot summer glory. It is definitely a winner in my book, and brings back the magic of the Unidentified Redhead Series. It was all L.O.V.E. all around!