Monday, April 11, 2016

Cucumbers, Pickles, and Nuts, OH MY!

"And you can't live your life fighting against everyone else's expectations."
--Alice Clayton, Nuts
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 320
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Find On: Goodreads | Amazon
Previous Books in Series: First in series of companion novels
Goodreads Description
From New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton, the first in a brand-new romance series telling the humorously sexy tale of Roxie, a private chef who gets a taste of love—but is it to stay, or to go?

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?
I had never previously read an Alice Clayton book prior to this and when it showed up in my mailbox from the lovelies at Gallery, I was really excited! The synopsis sounded great. I LOVE reading books about chefs and cooking and then add in a hot farmer, SOLD!

The Setting
A small town in the Hudson Valley is where our story takes place. After basically being thrown from LA, Roxie is asked by her mother to come home to manage the diner while she's away. It's perfect timing after losing her job in LA so she reluctantly goes back home. I loved the small town vibe. When she was talking about her difficult high school experience I did feel like I was starting to get hives and itch a little bit because I also come from a small town--not small compared to some but still small--and I could feel the anxiety of having to see people you purposely and gladly left behind. Beyond that, the feeling of coming home, of being surrounded by familiarity, the sense of belonging, I loved it.

The Diner/The Farm
The more specific setting of the diner also had me smiling. I loved the fast-paced, high intensity of Roxie working at the diner. Her trying to find her niche and try out new things was super fun to read about because I love reading about people cooking. And then the farm and Leo were fantastic. I loved how Alice Clayton weaved in farm to table living, CSAs, and how to support local agriculture. If I wasn't a fucking gypsy I would love to look into doing this and supporting local farmers. One day...

The Romance
This wasn't a conventional romance. Roxie doesn't open up to people and her "relationships" are always of a short term and sexual as needed nature. So her and Leo get on things very quickly, especially because he knows she is only here for the summer. Well, they actually finally get it on quite late in the book but the sexual tension and courtship starts pretty quickly. I really enjoyed their banter and food innuendos. I was laughing out loud more than once.

Finding A Reason To Stay
The entire book Roxie is convinced she will move back to LA to continue on with her 'real life.' When she meets Leo and gets to know him, she starts to question that plan. I loved this so much. She had zero expectation when she came home, didn't want to be there, and ended up wanting to stay because of love. *le sigh* As I said, as a gypsy looking for my stopping place, I so appreciated this aspect of the story. Did Roxie find her stopping place?...You'll have to read to find out.

The Secret
There is a secret about one of the characters that drives a portion of the conflict later in the story and I have to call a little bullshit on this. In a town that small, that thrives so much on gossip, there is NO WAY this would have been kept a secret especially when it wasn't a town secret. This character chose to keep it from the other character but not from everyone else. It just didn't feel realistic. The conflict that arose from it felt organic but now how the conflict came about. It really did not affect my overall feeling for the book or rating, I still totally enjoyed the book but this made me head tilt.

Reserved Seating
If you love farmers, diners, and healthy living...this book is for you.

1 comment:

  1. Books about small towns always wind up appealing to me, as I also grew up in a small town for most of my life. HOWEVER, I find that they either tend to really, really work for me in bringing out some nostalgia or they tend to fail me and make the small town feel not so authentic. Nuts sounds really cute (though that title totally throws me off) so I may have to look it up!

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