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Hudson Valley #2

Cream of the Crop

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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 be...love?

320 pages, Paperback

First published July 12, 2016

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About the author

Alice Clayton

27 books15.6k followers
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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5 stars
3,495 (31%)
4 stars
4,537 (40%)
3 stars
2,398 (21%)
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191 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,218 reviews
Profile Image for Angie - Angie's Dreamy Reads.
686 reviews13.5k followers
September 5, 2016
**** 4.5 SWEET STARS****

Cream of the Crop is a feel good read. A delightfully fun and charming RomCom that has a cast of characters who are sure to enchant. It's safe to say that my first real reading experience with an Alice Clayton book was a huge success. In fact, I can't wait to go back and devour her other novels.

This, the second Standalone in the Hudson Valley series, brings sizzling heat in the form of a lighthearted romance. It follows Natalie, a buxom blonde marketing guru who as sassy and outgoing as it comes. Her attitude pulls you right into her super fly City girl life. Nat is one of those characters who is easy to love. A luscious, curvy woman who, in a refreshing change of pace, isn't insecure about her size in the least. She owns her body, controls her destiny, and drives her success. A commanding presence on the pages, Natalie steals the show with her outrageously, hilarious inner monologue and sometimes crude and witty banter. She's in lust **hehehe** with a farmer she's been eyeing at the market for a couple months. Broody and sexy, Oscar steals her natural badass aura every time he's around. He makes her feel nervous! Something that NEVER happens to Natalie.

Oscar, a dairy farmer and owner of Bailey Falls Creamery, is a man of few words. And alpha who has the SEXIEST caveman qualities. He and Natalie go through a routine every Saturday morning.

She goes into the market for cheese.
He hands her the cheese.
And a couple words are passed between them.

It's funny, endearing, sweet, and very very charming.

To say Nat has a crush on our hero is an understatement. She's had full blown, drawn out fantasies where Oscar is the star of the show. But when Nat see's Oscar she becomes tongue tied and can't get more than two words to fall from her lips. So when a sprinkle of good fortune, in the form of a marketing campaign for Bailey Falls, slips into Natalie's lap, she scoops it up. After all, this is her chance to get a closer look at the man she's been lusting after and also an excuse to catch up with Roxie- her BFF and our heroine in the first book.

This sweet romantic comedy was so refreshing. With tender moments, sprinkled between steamy ones, and funny moments, sprinkled between heart felt ones, every page was a delight. Alice's writing is addicting and the story was fluid, flowing easily. For new Alice Clayton readers like me, I had no issues following along with the plot or the characters. I was enamored by the world the author created, pulled in and totally smitten with all the characters. The angst is light, the sex is hotter, and the dialogue is down right hilarious.

Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking for light, happy, feel good read! Cream of the Crop is one you'll devour in one sitting, one you can't help but love and can't wait to re-read. I JUST LOVED IT.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,816 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2016
4 stars!

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Alice Clayton brings her signature laugh out loud funny and sexy stories and her charming characters once again with Cream of the Crop. It’s book 2 in the Hudson Valley series, and although it can be read as a stand alone, I highly recommend picking up Nuts if you haven’t read it. Be ready to fall in love with these characters and the town, Bailey Falls.

Natalie Grayson is a city girl. She was born that way. Manhattan is her home. She’s an executive at an advertisement firm and she loves her job, her life, and herself. Natalie goes to the Farmer’s Market each weekend. The best part of her Saturday is getting her Brie from Oscar Mendoza, dairy farmer from Bailey Falls Creamery. Oscar and Natalie don’t communicate much, but it’s obvious an attraction is there. When Natalie gets an opportunity to go to Bailey Falls, where Oscar is from, for work, she jumps on it.

The thing I love most about Natalie is her self confidence. She knows who she is, she loves herself, and she doesn’t care what others think. She is someone relatable and a heroine I could easily see myself being friends with.

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Natalie is a city girl. Oscar is a country guy. They are so different in so many ways, but those differences don’t matter when it comes to matters of the heart. When they say ‘opposites attract’, I think Natalie and Oscar were two characters they had in mind. I loved watching Natalie fall in love and take a chance on love again.
I knew I was falling for him in a big way. Whole heart, full butterflies, threatening to burst out of my chest and skywrite my feelings for all the world to see.

As I said before, this story was fantastically funny. I had so much love for Natalie, it was steamy, entertaining and sweet. So why not 5 stars? Well, as much as I loved the story and Natalie, I had some trouble connecting to Oscar. There were moments he aggravated me and overall I didn’t love him as much as I wanted to throughout the story. There were parts of him I did love, but then there were moments I was too disconnected to him. He seemed aloof and withdrawn through parts of the story and it didn’t jive as well with me. I know he’s a reserved kind of guy, and maybe it was just me, but I wanted a little more ‘something’ from his character.

Overall, I loved this story. I loved the positive body image message. I loved Natalie so much and Clayton’s writing is fun and sassy as always. If you’re looking for a read with an amazing heroine and one that will keep you entertained, Cream of the Crop is a book I would recommend!

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Profile Image for ✦❋Arianna✦❋.
790 reviews2,503 followers
July 19, 2016
4 Stars!!


Once again Alice Clayton delivered an enjoyable gem that had me smiling and grinning the entire time. I love this author’s storytelling. She always manages to make me forget for a couple of hours about real life with her quirky, funny stories. 'Cream of the Crop', the second installment in this series is the perfect mix of humor and romance and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was gripping from the start and delightful from the very first chapter.

Natalie Grayson is a beautiful woman who works as an executive at an advertising firm. She loves her job, the city (she’s 100% a city girl), her body (she’s a size 18 confident woman) and last but not least, she loves men. However, she’s not looking do get married. She only wants to have fun and enjoy herself. She is proud of her figure having the power to make any men eat out of the palm of her hand. Well…any man, except Oscar Mendoza. Natalie goes to the Farmer’s Marker each Saturday. She’s a little addictive to these visits, not only because she loves her cheese, but also because of Oscar, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery. Our heroine knows how to handle herself in any situation, but every Saturday at the sight of the sinfully sexy cheese-maker she becomes a blubbering mess. She fantasizes about this tattooed farmer man, admitting to herself that he intrigues her like no other.

“Oscar should grin more often. Because when he does, birds sing and angels weep. And holy shit, cows moo.”

Oscar is a man of few words and he’s been fantasizing about the curvy, blonde bombshell for a while now. When Natalie jumps at the chance to lead the Bailey Falls account for their tourism campaign she hopes not only that she will be able to spend more time with her best friend, Roxie, but also to get to know Oscar better.

This second installment turned out to be so much fun and oh, so very sexy. An opposites attract story, 'Cream of the Crop' was a highly entertaining read that made me smile and swoon the entire time. I enjoyed everything about the story – the vivid descriptions of Bailey Falls, the fantastic witty dialogue between the characters, the swoony romance and everything in between.

Natalie was FABULOUS heroine. I absolutely loved the sh*t out of her. Her confidence, her strength, her sassiness and the way she handled everything and everyone were simply wonderful. Needless to say, I adored her portrayal. She was an endearing, relatable character that I admired very much as the story unfolded. Her background was done very well. As the story progressed and her past was revealed my heart broke for this amazing heroine, but I have to say it was great watching her fall slowly, but surely for the sexy milkman.

“Would he be soft and gentle? Would he be strong and forceful? Would he lick my lower lip until I opened up, then slide his tongue against mine sensually? Or would he put his perfect hands on my face, turn it how he wanted it, and fuck my mouth with his own?”

Oscar was also a great character. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I didn’t love him as much as I loved Natalie. Maybe because the entire story is told from our heroine’s POV…who knows? Oscar was intriguing...enough, not very talkative, but very swoon-worthy. However, his bluntness got on my nerves at times.

The chemistry between these two was palpable and so fantastically done. Despite the fact they are opposites, Natalie and Oscar were really great together. I simply loved how sweet and sexy they were together. I would have wanted more scenes with these two together, but despite my little tiny issue here, I really enjoyed Alice Clayton’s newest release.

All in all, 'Cream of the Crop' was a wonderful romantic comedy that made me smile and laugh, with two likeable and entertaining characters, humorous dialogue and a lovely romance that for sure will make you swoon.

* ‘Cream of the Crop’ can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading ‘Nuts’, the first installment in the series too! *
Profile Image for Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog.
1,260 reviews9,962 followers
July 12, 2016
{ARC Generously Provided by Author}
(BR with Mel)

For two seconds, he thumb stroked me. I held my breath for an eternal two seconds, thumb stroked so good that I saw stars. And when we finally let go, I knew I’d never be the same. If he could make me that stupid with his thumb, what would happen if he--

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The second installment of the Hudson Valley series is destined to be another sure fire hit!! There isn't a doubt in my mind that Alice Clayton's writing is ABSOLUTE GOLD!! CREAM OF THE CROP has a beautiful and sassy Heroine who will steal your heart and a sinfully sexy Hero who will leave you swooning and panting for more!! The other character that I must give honorable mention to is the town of Bailey Falls. Alice Clayton’s vivid description of the very scenic and quaint town brings it to life for the reader. All I want to do is plan a weekend getaway to this charming little town and take in the local flavor.

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From the moment that we are introduced to Natalie Grayson, I literally fell head over heels in love with this character. This woman is not a waif by any means. She is a woman with CURVES and she is proud of her size eighteen figure. She wears her confidence well!! Strutting her stuff down the city streets of Manhattan, Natalie turns more than a head or two. If she sees a guy that tickles her fancy, it takes only a little wiggle of her behind and the bat of her eyelashes to have him eating out of the palm of her hand. I just really loved the fact that she was so comfortable in her own skin and she rocked at being a super sexy and funny Heroine. She wasn’t always this well put together woman that she is now and we learn about her emotional past as we get deeper into the story. There is just one thing that is kryptonite to her fabulousness and it comes in the form of a beautiful six foot five hunk of man who is a dairy farmer from Bailey Falls – Oscar Mendoza!!! Natalie’s Saturday morning ritual is to stop by the local farmer’s market and get her Brie fix from this beautiful man who makes her tongue tied and giddy as a lovesick teenaged girl!! I must say that I developed the same swoony feelings for this hunky farmer.

Natalie Grayson is a marketing executive for a top advertising agency in NYC. During a department meeting, she learns that one of their new potential clients happens to be the township of Bailey Falls. They're looking to revive tourism in their area. Natalie jumps at the chance to take on this new client knowing that she'll ultimately get to cross paths with sexy Oscar!! Her first encounter with Oscar on Leo Maxwell's farm doesn't go as smoothly as planned since as I stated earlier, he is her kryptonite and disastrously funny things happen to our poor heroine. But Natalie will get her swagger back and holy smokes was my tongue ever wagging and I may have even felt a little lightheaded from the serious heat that these two generated!!! They wasted no time getting down and dirty in the back of Oscar's barn and damn this man could lift this woman and hold her in all kinds of positions as if she were a tiny little thing. Oh, the pictures I had in my head!!!!

As things start to heat up between Oscar and Natalie, there will be a few challenges that they’ll be forced to deal with. Oscar loves life on his farm in the country. Although Natalie dreams of settling down someday in the country with her hot farmer, her career is at its peak and she’s not ready to leave her fabulous life in New York City yet. So how will these two be able to make things work when their lives are deeply rooted in two completely different worlds?!

So far I would have to say that Cream of the Crop is my favorite in the Hudson Valley series and even though I did enjoy NUTS, I think I just felt such a deeper connection to Natalie and wished that she and I could be BFFs!! And Oscar just made me melt into a pool of desire the second he walked onto the pages of this story! I wanted to live the lives of these amazing characters, and maybe just for a short while my imagination allowed me to do so!

CREAM OF THE CROP is available now. I seriously recommend that you get to this one as soon as possible because you’re sure to fall in love with this story!!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NHK3us
iBooks: http://apple.co/1s5usLA
BN: http://bit.ly/1syeHN9

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Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,637 followers
July 13, 2016
This book was almost amazing. Almost.

First of all, I fully appreciate what Alice Clayton did with this book. She made the MC a size 18 girl who is SEXY and she KNOWS it! Natalie is a diva, through and through.

When I search my brain, I can't think of another romance book with a plus-sized MC where she isn't either trying to loose weight or isn't very self-conscious about her stature. Natalie radiates confidence, and she gets male attention wherever she goes. She is sex-positive and she has swagger. I envied Natalie's body positivity, honestly. I absolutely adored how self-assured she was, and I enjoyed being inside her head.

I also loved how the author made Natalie not only a bigger girl, but a fit one. Natalie took work-out classes, and slammed the stereotype of a plus-sized girl who isn't in shape.

Natalie was funny and easy to get to know. Though I was a little distracted by the constant brand name-dropping for all of her designer clothes, I didn't have any issues with Natalie as a character. I liked her city-girl vibe, and I related to her pretty well.

What I DID have issues with was the other MC, Oscar.

This book is told in one POV, and that is Natalie's. Without Oscar's POV, and with Oscar being an extremely stoic character, I didn't feel like I got to know him... at all. Oscar came across as aloof, and a little off-putting, if I'm going to be honest. I got that he was attracted to Natalie, but I thought that he treated his ex-wife with more care than he did Natalie.

The whole situation with Oscar's ex was... weird. I get that they wanted to be friends after they split up, but I didn't like how passive-aggressive the ex was with Natalie, and how Oscar seemed to always take his ex's side. Not. Cool.

I also thought that Oscar was obnoxious to Natalie, especially towards the end of the book. I wanted more from him as a romantic lead, and I thought that he didn't live up to the awesomeness that was Natalie.

Though I was disappointed in the romance, I still enjoyed this book overall. It was a FUN read, with a confident female MC who owned her sexuality with no apologies. I enjoyed the female-friendship aspect of the story, though I thought it was a little heavy-handed in setting up for the next book. This book has a lot to offer, and I'm excited to try more books in this series.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for Nofreeusernames Nofreeusernames.
Author 5 books1,359 followers
March 3, 2020
Místo recenze mé oblíbené citáty. Vyzývám vás, abyste je přečetli nahlas se sexy přízvukem a bez výbuchu smíchu!

Zkřižte špatného hocha s modelem, přidejte špetku fotbalisty a velkou lžíci tichomořské vášně, a pak můžete, jenom možná, ocenit lechtivý sen, který přede mnou stál na trhu. A potom – ach, bože – vytáhl vysokou láhev čistého bílého mléka z chladicího boxu, otočil uzávěrem a pil hlubokými doušky. Dobrý bože.

Někdy, když jsem měla štěstí, rozfoukal vítr několik pramínků jeho hustých vlnitých vlasů. Tehdy se na nebi rozezpívali andělé.

Byla bych schopná vraždy, jen abych ho viděla stloukat máslo.

Budu žít na farmě, sbírat vajíčka a ručně vyrábět lahodný domácí sýr z mléka šťastných oveček, zabalený v roztomilých obalech. A pokud se mnou bude sdílet postel někdo, kdo mě probudí svým kokrháčem… to bych si nechala líbit.

Uviděla jsem Oskara. Stál na louce a byl obklopen sladkými kravičkami.

Oskar mi to na místě dělal očima. A jak… jak skandálně.

„Takže, slyšela jsem, že máš obrovskou stodolu. Nechtěl bys mi ji někdy ukázat?“
„Moje stodola je ohromná.“

V obličeji se mu zračil souboj emocí: má mě dál líbat k zbláznění v bahně, nebo mi nejprve dovolí trochu se očistit?

Na tvář se mi vkradl úsměv, který se pomalu šířil jako východ slunce… jako ten nejšťastnější, nejchlípnější východ slunce, jaký jsem si uměla představit.

„A je to,“ zašeptal… a já se udělala. (poznámka Oly: a tady v pozadí hraje Pat a Mat)

Vrhl se k mým džínům a vrátil se zpátky s kondomem, dřív, než bych dokázala říct „hej, to seno klouže.“

„Kdo se nechá ojet ve stodole a potom přižene krávy domů z louky?“
„Z pastvy,“ opravil mě.

Chtěla jsem znát jeho příběh, protože i když občas vzácně vypustil z úst nějakou perlu, většinou na každou otázku odpovídal jo, ne nebo úžasná velká prdel.

Když jsem jednou na cestě z práce uviděla ve výloze La Belle Fromage sýr z mlékárny Bailey Falls, rozbušilo se mi srdce. Když jsem ve výloze obchodního domu uviděla flanelovou košili naaranžovanou na figuríně ve stylu trendy dřevorubec, pocítila jsem mravenčení po celém těle. A když jsem ve výloze U Zabara uviděla štangli salámu, bylo to už skoro příliš.

„Dnes budeme vyrábět čedar.“ A bylo to tady. Tohle byl můj tajný sen.

Po scéně v dodávce následovala scéna v ložnici. Oba jsme naráželi do zdi jako pingpongové míčky a snažili se dostat do vedení.

Nejde jen o bludiště z kukuřice… čekala by na mě i něčí kukuřice.

Kdyby bylo fyzicky možné, aby se člověk samovolně vznítil při pozorování dospělého muže, jak stlouká máslo, byla bych to já.

Celá stodola se rozžhavila čirou vášní…

Téměř jsem ho nechala, aby mi to udělal před stovkami obložených chlebů.

Voněl sladce a svěže, s lehkým nádechem stodoly a jetele.

„Růže jsou rudé, fialky modré. Jsem moc unavený na píchání, ale to neva, protože ona také.“

Svítání přišlo časně a svižně. A stejně tak i můj orgasmus.

Obrázky podzimních listů, ledovcových jezer a maloměstské rodinné pohody mě začínaly vzrušovat.

„Miluješ ho?“ Ježíšku na křížku. Už to tak vypadá.

Ruku měl položenou na jedné ze svých pěkných kraviček a za ním se tyčila jeho ohromná stodola.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,827 reviews2,186 followers
July 3, 2016
Full review now posted

4 stars!

“Oh, yes.”

City meets the country in this newest book from Alice Clayton. Natalie is a beautiful and curvy plus sized woman working in marketing in New York City. She's confident in everything, her looks, her job, and her life. Everything that is except the cheese guy at the farmer's market every weekend. Normally Natalie has no problem approaching a man for what she wants, but this dairy farmer has her twisted up in knots.

When an opportunity with her job brings her to Bailey Falls, Natalie finds herself face to face with a certain dairy farmer, and she decides to go for it. Oscar is completely different from other men for her, he's stoic, kind and keeps to himself. Opposites attract in this countryside romance, and shows us sometimes what we need is to consider what we want, and what makes us happy.

If I ever developed lactose intolerance, I'd throw myself into the East River."

Alice Clayton delivers another funny and sweet romance. Cream of the Crop can be read as a standalone, but as always I recommend reading the first book as it really sets the town feeling in this book.

The chemistry between Oscar and Natalie was scorching, and I liked that he was on board with a plus sized heroine and loved her curves. Oscar liked Natalie for who she was and didn't want her to change. There were some issues from Natalie's past that I felt were very much brushed over near the end, but otherwise I really enjoyed this romance.

Fans of romantic comedies and Alice Clayton fans will love this book, it's the perfect summertime romance!

"Where did you come from?"
"The West Village."

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,573 followers
July 12, 2016
LIVE https://www.amazon.com/Cream-Crop-Hud...

4 Pinup and Caveman STARS

"New York comes to the country.
And in the country.."

This was a fun story, I enjoyed it so much! I was laughing and swooning most of the time, the characters were so lovable! I loved their chemistry and their moments together were super hot! This series has become one of my favorite!


"This felt amazing.This felt incredible.This felt different."

Natalie is a city girl and she loves...cheese and the guy that makes it! Who is super hot and every time she sees him she swoons! Oscar lives upstate.So when Natalie has an opportunity to work in this place where Oscar and her best friend live things will change! Get ready to laugh and get hot! These two will captivate you! Seriously I love all their moments!I especially loved them as a characters! Natalie is confident, funny and sweet! Oscar is a sexy,caveman (lol) and swoon-worthy!

This book was exactly what I needed after my previous emotional book!Sweet, funny, refreshing and super hot!

ARC courtesy of publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,652 reviews3,234 followers
May 21, 2017
4.5 When the Mixture is Just Right Stars
* * * *1/2 Spoiler Free
Alice Clayton is on a roll. Or should I say path...She started a series from the inspiration of visiting a "Farmers Market" and seeing all the beautiful produce there...round, robust lettuces...firm ripe tomatoes... and long, hard cucumbers and zucchinis...Why wouldn't any smart, sassy romance writer be stimulated with all of this "food" for thought....Seriously, though, it was a breeding ground surrounded by the push for using sustainable products produced by local farms for an idea of books with just that focus. Brilliant.

Cream of the Crop is the second book of the Hudson Valley series. We first met Oscar and Natalie as secondary characters in Nuts https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... You do not have to read Nuts to follow along in Cream... it stands on its own. The reading of the first book would just give you more back story of the town, feel of the other relationships and those types of things which we all can appreciate.

We are presented with Natalie fully formed. This is woman who has found herself. She has experienced the good and bad in life and has decided she will be in charge of her existence in it. She will not be some pawn in some man's game ever again...She will never allow herself to feel less than. She has learned to own her size 18 body and dresses like the femme fatale she is. Confidence oozes out of her. It works for her in the Advertising Firm where she is an executive and it works when she wants a little taste of man candy. Her calendar is so full, she has to turn down many of the invites to all the most sought after events in NYC. She may be large but she is in charge.

Well, she is except when she is confronted by her own Kryptonite ....Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer. There behind his booth he stands.... This Specimen of Man...Tall, Dark Wavy Hair...Muscular, where when he reaches for the Brie Natalie craves, the length and movement of his arms is a thing of beauty...and then there is his HANDS...powerful, which reduces this force of Womanhood to a nervous, dying inside, girl crushing for the first time....

This exchange happens every single week...first because Natalie has a love of cheese which I can relate to...(Well, mine would be cheesecake...) For Natalie, all cheese is nirvana and when this man hands it to her...time stops; she can't breathe and the lingering of his fingers on her hand carries her through to the next week when hopefully it will happen again. Does she fantasize about him in a more sexual way.... hell yes, she does... and every week she promises herself she will be the woman she knows how to be... use to getting what she wants...but it is like that Groundhog's Day movie...the taking of the cheese, the brief hand off, their eyes connecting in that timelessness ...it is on repeat and she can't seem to break it.

As life would happen, Natalie soon has an opportunity to handle a marketing campaign for the town where her bestie has moved to...Bailey Falls. This would be amazing and requests to work the pitch for her company. She would get to visit with her friends and maybe get a glimpse of the man who keeps getting her tongue tied.

It is during her visit to take in all the town has to offer when her friend arranges a casual crossing of paths between these two...as the friend has seen first hand how Natalie gets when around Oscar. They end up together...in enclosed space in a barn and there Natalie has figured out how to say all the things she has been dreaming of saying to this man.... and I mean a stream of thought encompassing ever way possible they could enjoy each other....

And as she waits to the sounds of silence from him...looking to see if he was still there...He starts a conversation which reveals to us exactly who this man is....a straight, no nonsense, man of few words thinker...

Oscar's past has shaped him into the solid, focused man he is today. He has found what makes him happy and is a success in his own right. This well earned success is important to him. After having a father who never felt he was good enough if he wasn't first in his sport...he was never going to submit to those feelings again. He had romance as a young guy...and then grew out of it. Realized his focus and is good where he is...

Although, he wasn't blind...and seeing Natalie every week...coming and especially going...was the highlight of his week.

This story is a wonderful tale of two people who are good for each other...they both just need to adjust their perspectives...and be able to accept who each is and be secure in their love.

Alice Clayton brings her wit, sass and sexy writing to enhance our idea of those who work from sun up to sundown to bring us the best Mother Nature can provide. We will never think of Cheese... or any other morsel of food the same way.

Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1) by Alice Clayton Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1)
Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2) by Alice Clayton Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley,#2)
Buns (Hudson Valley, #3) by Alice Clayton Buns (Hudson Valley, #3)

~~~~~ Before Reading ~~~~~
They say it is important to have your necessary nutrients everyday....
I just got served my Cream of the Crop!!!!
Will be downing this delicious read ASAP
Ok, I am a little late getting on the bandwagon for Oscar and Natalie...

But better late than never, right...

And a focused book on these two....
Should be smokin' hot...

So let's the fireworks begin as July 2016 is the time for

Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2) by Alice Clayton, Of Course!

A gifted copy was given by the author for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Dee Montoya.
942 reviews579 followers
June 7, 2016
5 +++ Tasty Stars*****

(ARC kindly provided by author)

Sweet, nutty and very delicious, are the words that come to mind when trying to describe this book. Like a delectable slice of Camembert cheese, Cream Of The Crop will melt your heart, and maybe even your underpants with a tasty combination of characters, a super fun plot and the highly entertaining signature writing style of Alice Clayton. The Hudson Valley series keeps getting better and better!!!

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Natalie Grayson is a marketing executive in New York City. She is a size eighteen bombshell who can drive any man crazy with just one sultry look. She has a lot of confidence in herself, but that wasn't always the case. Growing up being the constant target of bullies, she never thought of herself as beautiful until one boy came along and finally made her feel worthy of love, but at what price?

After giving up too much for love, Natalie turned her life around. She's worked hard to be the best in her field, has a very busy social life, and an adoring family. She's become so independent, she's not interested in settling down with any man, she just wants to enjoy life's pleasures. So why does she become a blubbering mess, unable to utter more than two sentences when she is in the presence of the sexy, dairy farmer Oscar?

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Oscar the sexy cheese maker; he is the owner of a beautiful dairy farm in Hudson Valley, New York. Natalie's best friend lives in the Hudson Valley, and she's determined to help her bestie make a move on Oscar.

Oscar is a man of very few words, but whenever he speaks, he says all the right things, or does he? He is rugged, manly, and uber sexy, and for a long time, he has been fantasizing about Natalie. But she is a city girl, and he's just a simple man from the country, can they have a real future together?

Who knew that cheese could be so sexy? Apparently Alice Clayton did because, with this irresistible new series, she is bringing sexy back to the country.

We meet these new characters, Natalie, and Oscar, who are wonderfully complicated together. Their friends, all the characters from the previous book, added to the already witty plot. A story that had me laughing and enjoying myself without regard. So put on your farmer's boots, and ride the train to Hudson Valley for a delectable, good time. Trust me after only one visit, you'll never want to leave.

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Profile Image for Natasha is a Book Junkie.
682 reviews7,439 followers
July 12, 2016
Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be shy. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them. F*ck all that noise. I took the best-looking guy home with me whenever and however I pleased.

I have been smitten with Alice Clayton’s brand of funny ever since her Redhead days, one of the few authors I know capable of making me cackle and sprain my wrist fanning myself all at the same time, and this story was all I hoped it would be—sexy, uplifting, and downright hilarious. But surprisingly, it wasn’t the hot, broody, tattooed hero that stole the show for me; it was the confident, witty, plus-sized heroine whose every word, every action made me want to high five my Kindle. I found myself highlighting entire pages, nodding, sighing, fist pumping the air with one hand while taking note of those passages with the other, and giggling every single time. A most delightful romantic comedy that I loved from the very start, and one that not only left me with the biggest grin on my face, but also hopeful that, next time I look myself in the mirror, a little bit of Natalie might have rubbed off on me, too.

Continue reading this review...
August 4, 2016
4 ★'s

I was really looking forward to Natalie and Oscar's story and I thought I had an idea how it would go but I was oh, so wrong!

Natalie's been crushing on Oscar at the farmer's market for a while now but things have had more of a fantasy aspect to them. That is, until she gets the advertising account for the city of Bailey Falls...and that just happens to be near where Oscar's diary is and of course, Natalie's best friend and heroine from the first book, Roxie.


She immediately makes plans to do some "research" and goes to Bailey Falls for a long weekend. Roxie, who is aware of Natalie's little crush, orchestrates a dinner with Natalie, Roxie's boyfriend, Leo, and naturally, Oscar.

Natalie is beside herself...she can hardly form words. This self confident woman is reduced to mush. It is quite hilarious and even more so, what she does to get over it. Just leave it up to Oscar to move things forward.

And by forward, I mean forward! Things move quickly for these two and I was a little disappointed. However, all the little dramas helped draw things out.

I've realized that I've completely jumped ship into the needing both POV's to be totally happy with a book. There was just too much going on to not have Oscar's POV and it's only obviously how much better the book would've been after finally getting his with the epilogue!

It was interesting learning Oscar's history...and Natalie's but I felt Oscar's baggage got taken care of a little too conveniently and suddenly??


I loved Natalie's relationship with her mother and how her Mom came through for her. Mom's certainly do know best.

The ending was just what we needed and again, I loved that the epilogue was from Oscar's POV.

The next book is set up quite nicely for Clara and Archie even though we didn't get much about them. I know that Ms. Clayton will work her magic!

(Prior to review...)

Oscar & Natalie...cant wait!
Profile Image for Paige ♠.
284 reviews848 followers
June 1, 2021
I decided to dnf this book at the 35% mark.

I was in the mood for a steamy book with a strong lead in the corporate world (sometimes you just get in a weird mood, you know??). I had such high hopes going into this book and there were definitely a lot of things I liked:
✅ Incredible body-positivity
✅ Very confident and sexy female lead
✅ Successful and ambitious female lead
✅ Fun city girl vibes

But the romance really was not working for me!! First off, we were barely even introduced to the love interest for the first ~30% of the book. And then once the two finally had a conversation together it was complete head over heels instalust. There was no flirty banter or funny dialogue... it was literally just:

Natalie: "Hey, you're hot and I want to bang you"
Oscar: "Okay, I'm in"

Profile Image for S.M. West.
Author 43 books1,064 followers
June 22, 2016
4.5 Pinup & Caveman STARS

Alice Clayton just knows how to bring it with the perfect balance of humor and romance to give you a highly entertaining and endearing story. I simply love the feels that her characters and stories capture and the laughs! Yes, the laughs!

This second book, like the first, can be read as a standalone although the characters do cross over from one book to another. In this one, we have Natalie Grayson, a big ad executive from New York City and Oscar Mendoza, cheese-maker and owner of Bailey Falls Creamery, nestled in the Hudson Valley.
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Natalie’s a spitfire. A sexy and confident plus sized woman who has got it going on when it comes to men. Within minutes, she’ll have any man eating out of the palm of her hand, except Oscar. This big hunk-o-burning love has featured in many of her fantasies. She’s been lusting and dreaming about Oscar for months, with only brief weekly Saturday encounters at the Farmer’s Market. But when Natalie gets in front of Oscar all her mojo goes out the window. Rendered speechless and mindless, she bumbles through a funny yet brief verbal weekly dance.

“Oh. Yes.”

Oscar is the sexy, silent brooding type. But he's noticed Natalie and he too looks forward to their weekly encounters. Natalie jumps at the chance to lead the Bailey Falls account for their tourism campaign and also she’s hoping it’ll lead to some sexy times with Oscar. These two are unlikely lovers, from different backgrounds and with different tastes (to a point) yet they fall in love. But can this Manhattan chick

and Country boy

last when their lives are not only miles apart but so are their lifestyles?

This was a heartwarming and entertaining read. If you love feel good reads with little to no drama but lots of laughs and sweet times, I recommend you pick up this book.

**ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.**

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Profile Image for MELISSA *Mel Reader*.
1,346 reviews1,419 followers
July 12, 2016
4.5 Stars!
(ARC provided by author)
(BR with Patty)

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Natalie Grayson is a curvy, confident, outgoing, gorgeous woman who comes from wealth, & was born and raised in New York. She is a city girl through & through. She loves Manhattan & her brownstone in The West Village. She has an amazing job at a huge advertising firm, & friends and family she adores. She also has a love affair with cheese & spends almost every Saturday at her favorite farmer's market at Union Square.

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Another thing Natalie loves is men. She currently is obsessing over a beautiful hot farmer who owns the Bailey Falls Creamery in Hudson Valley, in upstate NY. This tattooed stunning creatures name is Oscar Mendoza aka the cheese man... the milkman... the dairy God. Natalie looked forward to her Saturday's when she would get a glimpse of this fascinating, exquisite man. She would buy her Brie & their brief encounter was the highlight of her week & also would fuel her lustful fantasies till she got her next Oscar fix. While she was crushing hard on him, she could hardly talk to him. He made her so nervous she couldn't be her usual man eater self when it came to this man. She had it so bad for him. Eventually their paths cross outside of the farmer's market & things heat up quickly between them.

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-I'd been hit with an instant wave of lust.

-"I just go to pieces around this guy."

-"When I see him, I literally lose my mind. I can't talk to him when I see that face, and those eyes, and those lips, and all that gorgeous ink, and those hands."

-I craved him, simple as that.

-I would kill someone with my bare hands to see him hold his churn.

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I loved loved this book! Just fantastic! Oscar is just delicious & I adored Natalie. She is hilarious & I loved her confidence and her vivacious personality. We also get plenty of Leo & Roxie. I really enjoyed this one & hope the next book is Clara & Archie. :))

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Profile Image for Sabrina.
3,234 reviews1,934 followers
September 20, 2017
Get it here:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Cream of the Crop puts readers in Small Town USA with a mix of City life thrown in. Natalie is a city girl all the way and doesn't like being witout the craziness of being surrounded by people and noise all the time. So when she has to take a work assignment in upstate New York where it's small town living and everyone is in bed by a decent hour it's a shock to her. What's more shocking, the sexy creamery owner that she drools over every weekend at the market just so happens to live there.

I did enjoy this book and it was a 4 star for the majority of my experience. I found Natalie to be funny and very open about what she wanted, and Oscar had this hot brooding thing going on that I found adorable. My rating dropped down to a 3 Star because the ending was a little too rushed for me and it made me doubt the connection between these two characters. This book is still a recommended read though and could be read as a standalone in my opinion.
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,517 reviews3,771 followers
July 30, 2017
2.5 Stars

Overall Opinion: This is a tough one for me to rate, and I'm split in my decision...

I loved the h! I love the author too for how she handled a bigger bodied h! If you follow my reviews, you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when a h is made to seem/feel grateful for male attention because she is overweight or not the "ideal" body type. I get so frustrated with authors taking a larger h and making it such a focus in a negative way. Ms. Clayton -- major kudos to you for making a strong, confident woman that knows what she is working with, and has no issue using it to her advantage instead of making excuses for it! For the h and that alone -- I loved the book!

The H, however dreamy he seemed at first, sadly didn't live up to my expectations. I felt like he was just meh, and then he had to be an ass at the very end of the book! BIG spoiler so beware...

I also had some issues with their connection. Sex and lust I got for sure, but actual connection? I feel like the H revealed some things, but didn't really get to know the h on a level other than sexual. It just all felt a little shallow tbh.

So, sadly I'm going to go with a 2.5 star rating for this one. I think it could've been awesome with a more likable H, some actual out-of-the bedroom connection, and a better ending. But, what do I know?!? ;)

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Natalie and Oscar's story. Natalie has been crushing on the dairy farmer from the farmers market for a while now, so when her marketing firm gets the opportunity to work on tourism in his little town she jumps on the opportunity. It doesn't hurt that her best friend lives there too (Roxie from Nuts). After some embarrassing interactions, they start a hot affair consisting of quick weekends. Stronger feelings start to develop, there is some past baggage that both of them have to deal with, and they have some hot sexy times...and they get a HFN ending.

POV: This was told in Natalie's POV and Oscar's POV for the epilogue.

Overall Pace of Story: Good. I never skimmed, and thought it flowed well (see closure section).

Instalove: No, they take a while to develop stronger feelings.

H rating: 2.5 stars. Oscar. Oh, Oscar...I liked you ok until the last 30ish pages, and then you had to be an ass!! I'm not sure you really deserve the awesomeness that is Natalie...

h rating: 5 stars. Natalie. I loved her! Finally a 5 star h!!! She was damaged by her past relationship, but she grew from that and became an awesomely confident woman!

Sadness level: Low. No tissues needed.

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Moderate. They have some good chemistry and scenes.

Descriptive sex: Yes

Safe sex: For the most part. Condoms are mentioned in most scenes, but not in others. I don't remember any mention of previous practices.

OW/OM drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This had ok closure, but not nearly enough (just like the other one in the series). I would call it a HFN ending, as no big commitments were made between them. I did feel like their big conflict was resolved way too easily and swept under the rug to make for a clean ending.

How I got it: I got it on loan through my public library.

Safety: I'd say that this should be Safe for most readers.
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
959 reviews1,245 followers
July 7, 2016

Title: Cream of the Crop
Series: Hudson Valley #2
Author: Alice Clayton
Release date: July 12, 2016

Cream of the Crop was one of my top anticipated reads this year. What an intriguing character Alice Clayton teased us with in book one of the series, Nuts! Oscar was a hero like no other, so original and broodingly grumpy. He was that silent character in the background calling for his story to be told. And a huge, strapping hunk of a man who rides a motorcycle and makes artisanal cheese? The mental visuals alone are enough to entice you.

Natalie is a city girl living in Manhattan who has become addicted to visiting the Saturday morning market. Like clockwork, she puts on her sexiest suit of armor and confidently flaunts her curves in pursuit of catching a glimpse of Oscar the sexy milkman. Unfortunately, all of her swagger is sucked out the second she locks eyes with him. He's the only man that can make her turn into a thirteen year old with her first crush.

Cross a bad boy with a supermodel, add a dash of linebacker with a big scoop of Polynesian love, and then you might, just might, have an appreciation for the wet dream across the market from me.

Natalie was a powerhouse of sass and bold fearlessness. She took life and its challenges and made kneel in surrender. And speaking of surrender...she had any man she wanted wrapped around her finger. The confidence she exudes and her comfort in just being her honest self is the definition of sexy. You don't have to be a size zero to be appreciated and desired, and this is something she learned in a painful relationship that she swore never to fall victim again. I really hurt for what she went through, the abuse she endured was truly heartbreaking . But in the end, she became stronger from it and didn't let it rule her life. She was a beautiful, strong and resilient woman.

I loved men, and I didn't apologize for enjoying them. I wasn't looking to get married, I wasn't looking for someone to take care of me, and I certainly wasn't looking for a man to take me home and stick me in an apron.

Oscar was a very enigmatic character, he wasn't what you would call talkative or the sharing type. He could also me a majorly insensitive ass in his comments to Natalie. Not in a mean spirited way, but in a very realistic obtuse way. He's blunt and in your face when he's ready to talk, and Natalie inspires some very dirty words followed by some scorching hot actions. Once Natalie untwisted her tongue in his presence, they put both of their tongues to much better use.

The chemistry between Oscar and Natalie was immediate and intense. There was no doubt that they had an incredible physical connection and compatible personalities. They seemed to click effortlessly and had that comfortable relationship that is so at ease, making them fit without even trying.

My one complaint would be that even with the generous page count, there wasn't enough communication between them. I would have liked to have seen more time spent with them getting to know each other's pasts and learning all their little idiosyncrasies more.

If you're a fan of Alice Clayton's fresh and witty humor, hot farmers, and heroines who are proud to be their most genuine self, than this book could be for you! A highly recommended light and seductive story that's sure to have you daydreaming about Oscar churning butter, and reaching for a tall glass of milk.


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Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,547 followers
June 9, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

A few weeks ago I read a porno scientific journal about a doctor with a manbun. That imagery didn’t work out so well for me, but since my brain is a disgusting pervert it simply ignored those references and thought splooshy things about Dr. McSteamy instead. But the pervert inside my skull kept nagging me with the question of just what profession (other than rock god, natch) would longhair be splooshtastic. Then I remembered this series about farmers and this cover and oh my word . . . .

And this is the part where authors should never worry about how I’ve rated their previous books. After finishing this second book I pulled up my review for the first where I left a clear reminder to myself to not read any more of these. Good try, brain! Too bad I’m a fucking idiot and forgot. I actually really dug this one until the second half when tropes got tropey and my ladygarden dried out – but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The premise of Cream of the Crop is that Manhattanite Natalie spends every Saturday morning perusing the offerings at the farmer’s market with her final stop being Oscar’s booth where she purchases . . . .

“Cheese. Cheeeeeese. What a thin, flat, nasal-sounding word for such a luscious, rich, gorgeous thing. Hard. Soft. Ripe. Grainy. Creamy. Often stinky. I’d yet to find a cheese I didn’t adore.”

Just reading the above had my gastrointestinal system reminding me that I could never be a cheese connoisseur . . . .

We quickly discover that Natalie is a hot redhead, because . . . .

As well as being not-your-average-smexybook-leading-lady . . . .

Yep, ol’ Nat is a tried and true husky gal . . . .

“Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them. Fuck all that noise.”

Now, please note that I could really give a shit whether the broads in my porn are fat or thin or anything in between. 99.999999% of the time, I’m reading for the peen. Thanks to Natalie’s description of the dairy farmer . . . .

“I’d dated bad boys, and I’d fucked my share. But this guy was like . . . hmm. Cross a bad boy with a supermodel, add a dash of linebacker with a big scoop of Polynesian love.”

Along with a public service announcement type of commercial that plays incessantly . . . .

I got to announce just how gross I am and twisted that sweet daddy/daughter moment into my porntastic fantasy while I pictured Roman Reigns as Oscar Mendoza . . . .


Things were going swimmingly with a female lead bursting with (almost too much) self-confidence and a sexy farmer who had me chuckling as he learned just how important a comma is when Natalie couldn’t quite figure out if he was trying to tell her about her “great big ass” or her “GREAT, big ass.”

The first meet/cute between Natalie and Oscar where she went all West Side Story thinking that it “could be, who knows????” had me grinning from ear to ear . . . .

And Natalie’s internal playlist had me channeling my inner Pixie with reference to “Here Comes Your Man.” Unfortunately the never ending song stylings got old real quick . . . .

But there was still so much working for this book. Mainly all the . . . .

Then we got introduced to Oscar’s super passive aggressive ex-wife and he became a fucking moron with zero clue about what is normal/not normal regarding how couples should behave after they get divorced and Natalie did a 180 and became all broken and pathetic because of some fat-shamey type of boyfriend she had way back in the dizzle and my lady boner wilted and I got a little ragey.

This one will probably work better for nearly everyone else than it did for me. If you aren’t one who falls victim to endless eyerolls due to the stupidity in the paragraph above, you’ll do just fine. You’ll even get a good ol’ fashioned It’s a Wonderful Life type of wrap-up if you stick around . . . . .

Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,771 reviews1,472 followers
March 21, 2017
4 Cream Please stars

Cream of the Crop is a standalone and is part of the Hudson Valley series. This is Natalie and Oscar’s story. Oscar lives near Leo and Roxie (from book one). I love it when previous characters are brought in! I love me my Leo.

It’s the cute story of city girl meets country boy. To me, Cream of the Crop was written differently from Nuts. I still enjoyed Cream of the Crop and it was pretty funny. The beginning is heavily descriptive as the author sets up the tone and pace of the read. We get a huge character build-up of the main Heroine and Natalie is a very strong career driven average size eighteen city gal.

Natalie’s weight isn’t a focal point of the read, but it’s nice to have a full figure gal as the main character. She’s very confident in her appearance and I love that she loves to wear designer shoes. She goes to the Farmer’s Market weekly to check out her crush, Oscar.

The interaction between Oscar and Natalie is very mild. They don’t really get into it until the thirty percent mark, so the author builds up a lot of tension. Each week Natalie would stop by Oscar’s booth to buy cheese, they exchange one or two words and that’s it. This part was my favorite part in the book because of Natalie’s inner monologue. She’s funny and cute. As confident Natalie is, she becomes a goof in front of Oscar.

Natalie is a straight forward gal and she approaches the whole Oscar thing kind of differently from what I’ve read in previous books. It caught me off guard, but it’s a good kind. Once she becomes comfortable with Oscar, all bets are off and YAY the reading started to suck me in.

“This was moving beyond a toss in the hay and a grapple in the truck. I was feeling the feels. Which made me so very nervous… but I was rolling with it, dealing with it.”

Oscar is a big strong handsome man. He’s all muscles and tats with long hair. It’s interesting to see how he gets into the cheese business and it’s also interesting to see how the town reactions towards Oscar and Natalie. There are some obstacles that come the couple’s way, especially with the travel from city to farm life and gasp ex’s.

There are a few moments I didn’t agree with Oscar’s actions and Natalie’s reactions. I think it’s because I like the old fashion books with a possessive male and a damsels in distress female and this is not that kind of book.

Overall, I enjoyed the light-heartedness of the read and I laughed out loud at a few moments. I honestly say Oscar and Natalie are a one-of-a-kind couple.

An ARC was provided

Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1) by Alice Clayton Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2) by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop #2 AMAZON

Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews702 followers
June 10, 2016
2.5 stars?

I've heard a lot of good things about Alice Clayton's books, so I was pretty excited to download it.

I liked Natalie and Oscar well enough. She's brash and outspoken and he's stoic and quiet; they couldn't be more opposite. There are a few really great secondary characters. I loved Chad and Logan and they stole whatever scene they were in.

My main problem is that I didn't see the spark between them. Yes, there were a lot of sex scenes, but it felt like filler. Or like I was trying to be convinced that they had a connection because they constantly tumbled into bed. Couple that with the long long long sections of scenes without dialogue and countless paragraphs detailing Chanel footwear or cashmere leggings and I quickly faded.

Overall, there was something that kept me reading, but I'm not entirely sure what it was. Obviously by the reviews, I'm in the minority. I may try a different Alice book in the future, just out of curiosity.

**Huge thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
June 28, 2016
4 "Great....big ass" Stars!

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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.

July 12, 2016
Alice Clayton just upped the ante with this hilarious, unexpected, refreshing romance. Cream of the Crop is a steamy, messy Rom Com following a city girl and the sexy farmer she's been long eyeing at a New York City farmers market. The possibilities for farm themed innuendo are endless and Alice Clayton takes full advantage, delivering crude humor and smart dialogue against the backdrop of upstate New York farmland.

Alice Clayton has become my go-to author for, not only the slow burning, steamy romantic comedies she deliciously crafts, but also for the wholly captivating backdrop she places behind her addictive plots. The tastes and smells and personalities of this series are almost as addictive as the relationships she builds within it. It only took me a few pages to fall hard for the cheesemaker and the flamboyant advertising executive who longs for a taste of his wares. But just as enthralling is the idyllic small town feel Clayton captures in this book, the local businesses, the sense of community, the beauty of the country life right outside the city, the old world feel of Bailey Falls. I was just as taken with the atmosphere of this story as I was with the slow burning attraction between Natalie and Oscar.

Natalie is unapologetically sensual and unreservedly boisterous, every sexually charged flirtation that comes out of her mouth had me laughing out loud. I can not truly express how much I loved this girl. She's loud and proud, she owns her sexuality and she's confident in her womanhood. But there's a vulnerability there that one might miss if they're not looking close enough. It's clear early on that a bad relationship has marked her, and it's a long while before those bits from the past are divulged. That, along with her inexplicable nervousness around Oscar reveals a side of Natalie that she doesn't freely share. I loved seeing both of these characters' layers peeled back as this story evolved. Oscar is just as big a mystery and the way Clayton moves this story along with humor and sarcasm and a painstaking build is intoxicating. It's funny, even to me, that a story wrought with cow manure and butter churning and local produce can exude such sensuality. But Alice Clayton nailed it with this one. As it turns out, the eroticism of an actual roll in the hay is hugely underrated.

Natalie reminded me a bit of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City in the episode where she visits Aidan's upstate cabin with Carrie for the weekend and a sex fest with the farmer next door ensues. Like Samantha, Natalie is unapologetically sexual, fully embracing her knack for figuring out what makes a man tick... any man... and having him eating out of the palm of her hand regardless of the fact that she doesn't fit the mold of what society deems classically beautiful. And the romp in the barn with the farmer in this book is seriously one of the hottest things I've read in recent memory. But that's where the similarities end. Cream of the Crop takes the fashion forward city girl out of the concrete jungle and drops her into the country on a work assignment where she begins to see her world differently, her eyes opened to possibilities for a future she never envisioned for herself. While the hilarity of such a scenario is expected, what came as a surprise was the depth of emotion woven through these pages. This story is the perfect mix of sex appeal, humor and romance, but it's peppered with heavier moments, intense emotions, and raw angst that make for a story that's both heartwarming and heart stopping.

This is officially my favorite book from Alice Clayton, and it's absolutely one of my favorite books of the year. I really thought I knew what to expect going into this story, but it far exceeded anything I assumed it'd be. Funnier, sexier, more romantic, and unexpectedly intense and angsty, Cream of the Crop truly is the complete package. Alice Clayton's writing is superb in this book, the dialogue so smart and quick, the prose polished and clean. The book is light and fun and heartwarming but it's also pretty damn heavy at times. The steam is off the charts and the angst factor really balances the humor to make for a perfectly unputdownable read. This book is aptly named. I love this author's books but Oscar and Natalie's story really is the cream of the crop in the Hudson Valley series.
Profile Image for Beverly.
1,005 reviews800 followers
July 13, 2016
Alice Clayton, this woman knows how to write funny and bring the feels every time. I swear I loved Natalie, she was such a fantastic heroine and I loved seeing her get her HEA.

Natalie is besties with Roxie, we met her in Nuts. She lives in upstate New York and introduced Natalie to Oscar. Well sort of, really she just admires him from afar and becomes a complete mess when he talks to her. Now, this isn’t Natalie’s typical MO, but this guy has the power to reduce her to a bumbling idiot. She is no longer the confident advertising executive, she is a mess of nerves - which I loved, it just made her so much more relatable.

Oscar is the silent brooding type. Nobody really knows much about him, other than he is the hot dairy guy and divorced. Once these two finally connect it’s fireworks and lots of sexual chemistry. I am not sure if it’s my insane love for Natalie or just me, but I wanted more devotion from Oscar. I wanted to feel more from him because I desperately wanted someone perfect for her after her horrible past.

Like I said, this story is full of light hearted humor, but also delivers on the feels. I am sure every person can relate to feeling like less than at one point in their life. Reading Natalie’s POV allowed me to relate and feel for her. I loved her confidence and sense of humor, but what I really loved is how she owned who she was. Strong heroines that don’t come off as bitches are few and far between, Natalie didn’t seem bitchy she was someone I could see being my friend.

It’s so rare and unique when an author can have you laugh out loud and feel so much, Alice Clayton knows how to do both! I definitely recommend Cream of the Crop, which can be read as stand alone, although I recommend reading Nuts too!

ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Eliza.
664 reviews837 followers
July 12, 2016

4.5 stars

Having read NUTS, I knew I was in for a treat when it came to Cream of the Crop. Alice Clayton once again produces a prize winning-innuendo filled, rambunctious rom-com that's sure to have a spot on many favourite lists, including my own.

Bailey Falls is not just a small town in New York, oh no, it's a Mecca for hot & sexy farmers. Take Oscar, a studly dairy farmer, who can churn butter like no other. Add to this his gruff demeanour and you have a recipe too delicious to resist.

Natalie Grayson is a laugh a minute, go-getting Manhattanite with a taste for Oscar's wears. Being a city girl, what she can't stomach is the country. When work related matters mean she'll have to spend more time in Bailey Falls, the automatic upside she'll have the "friendly" neighbourhood farmer to give her some sugar.

Natalie has to be one of my favourite characters written this year. I enjoyed her fresh approach and her 'take it or leave it' attitude. Her relationship with Oscar was fun and oh, so sexy, but it also had some touching moments. My only criticism would be that I would have loved to have seen a bit more of them.

When it comes to this series you can consider me a country bumpkin. I just hope it's not too long until I'm donning my flat cap and wellies again.

Profile Image for Dali.
1,804 reviews458 followers
July 11, 2016
Charmingly fun and irresistibly sexy. A wonderfully written story about finding our inner fabulous with an awesome heroine.

In a world where a size zero is in vogue, Natalie Grayson embraces her curves and are one of her secret assets to her charmed life. She has her dream job which she excels at, a loving family, incredible friends, and an endless line of eager eligible bachelors. What more could a successful Manhattanite girl want? Simple, the best brie cheese around and its delicious provider.

For the past six months, Natalie has had a Saturday morning routing she’ll no soon break even when it makes her otherwise confident knees go week at the sight of Oscar the cheese maker Mendoza. Every week she goes to the Union Square Farmer’s Market strutting and self-assured. The moment her eyes lock on to the tall and sexy farmer though, she’s reduced to two syllable sentences until her PR firm is called upon to put the small town of Bailey Falls on the map. Will the big city girl fall for the small town charm and the farmer with the deliciously out of this world… cheese?

Alice Clayton’s characteristic humor, entertainment and sizzling hot romance is as present as always in this fabulous city girl meets gorgeous farm boy contemporary romance.
Turns out gentle sweet dairy cows get startled when someone comes running, and they don't always take too kindly to a shuffle-hop-step. One of them came after me, and although it was likely at a pace of about a mile per hour, it looked very fast in my head...
"What the hell are you doing to my cows?"

The writing is wonderful. I loved every single description from the fast moving city to the small enchanting town as viewed through Natalie’s eyes. I almost felt like I was standing right next to her all throughout her journey into the scary territory of falling in love with a reticent, silent man that seemed to be a complete opposite to her outgoing, exuberant personality.
“You’re bossy.”
“And you love it. All cavemen secretly like to be told what to do now and the.”

Natalie is a great heroine. After getting over her teenage and young adult self-esteem and insecurity issues and an abusive relationship, she’s became all about the girl power. She’s a plus sized woman and loving every inch of herself which not only made her likeable, but very much real and relateable. This story is beautiful and inspiring because of her. I loved her wit and sharp tongue as much as her confidence and the endless soundtrack going on in her head which constantly made me laugh!
“Size eighteen women weren’t supposed to show off their legs, which I did. They weren’t supposed to show off their cleavage, which I did... Size eighteen women were supposed to dress like they were apologizing for taking up too much space. I took up space. I took up space in a city where space was at a premium, and I never apologized for it.”

Oscar had enough layers to make him charming in his quiet and shy personality, but I don’t know if it was because the story was told from Natalie’s point of view that made me feel like I didn’t get to know him all that much which in turn made it difficult for me to connect with the romance and emotional bond between him and Nat. There were some hurtles they had to overcome as a couple which I felt were glossed over. Oh but the sexy times were plentiful and mouthwateringly hot. These two had an incredible back and forth.

The secondary characters were delightful. In Natalie’s words the town of Bailey Falls and its inhabitants were darling. I really enjoyed visiting there with her and all the people she interacted with including her best friend.

Cream of the Crop is book #2 in the Hudson Valley series by Alice Clayton. It is a funny, smexy hot, standalone contemporary romance. Told from the heroine's point of view that has a happy ending.

* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,040 followers
July 12, 2016
Loved, loved Natalie.

Full review to follow...

ARC provided by Gallery in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,150 reviews1,205 followers
July 12, 2016





Natalie is very happy in her life.
She's a very confident and beautiful size 18 girl living the good life in New York's West Village.


She has the perfect advertising agency job. The perfect friends and family. She's not afraid to flirt up guys. Her life is beautiful.

But there's this one guy.... the cheese guy. (Oh, did I forget to mention that Natalie is addicted to cheese? It's her biggest love!!)

Oscar sells the cheese he makes at his farm in Upstate at the Farmer's market every Saturday, and Natalie is buying it, every Saturday. For the past six months. But their conversation has yet to be more than:

Oh. Yes.

As soon as she sees him, or wants to start flirting with him, all her flirting talents leave her - MEGA leave her. She's like the shy, chubby 14 year old she once was.

But things might have to change now.
Her new project at work is to bring tourists back to Bailey Falls - Upstate New York.

The same town where her bestie Roxie lives with her hottie farmer Leo and also the place where Oscar is doing his cheesy business.

And of course Leo and Oscar are friends.
So she has to see him - at dinner and in the barn....Time to put her OH YESSES to another use ....



Nope - I'm not telling you ☺






I loved the Redhead series & Wallbanger - and I loved all the following Cocktail books, but I didn't loooove love them - but this one here... just like the first book in the series NUTS .... OY!!! SO GOOD!
It was adorable and funny and sexy from the first word to the last!
You can't help but love this slightly insane, slightly over-the-top New York girl and her HOT AS HELL Dairy Farmer!!!!

There are sooo many hilarious scenes and sexy scenes and cute and adorable scenes!

It takes Natalie such an amazingly funny but LONG time to finally start talking to Oscar. But it's definitely been worth the wait. He's the total opposite of Natalie's non-stop-talking-mouth. Those two are just totally perfect together.

You will so want your own tattooed cheese man after reading this book. ☺

Of course there are some problems in the way of an instant Happy End....
Like Oscar's ex-wife ... only she's kinda behaving like she's not all that ex.
And of course Natalie's mega-love of all things NYC might stand in the way of her moving into the Country to be with her Dairy-guy.
Also, both Natalie & Oscar have had some bad things happen in their pasts :/

But of course problems are just created to solve them - and we have LOTS of amazing reading time doing just that! And we also might learn how to make cheese. ☺☺☺

CREAM OF THE CROP was such an adorably funny & sexy & cheesy romance! (Cheesy as in Cheese!)
You'll sooo fall in love with Natalie and her Dairy-Hottie! Also, I will be permanently leaving Germany soon! Hudson Valley here I come!!! I'm accepting donations for my new farm via paypal! ☺

Now I really want to read book #3 ... it will be about a hot hotel-owner, who will fall in love with Roxie & Natalie's bestie Cara!



Smokin Hot Book Blog Email
Profile Image for FMABookReviews.
635 reviews392 followers
August 8, 2016
4.5 Stars!

❝The Hudson Valley. Where the food is pretty, and so are the farmers.❞

Teaser CotC

I have a perma-smile, sore stomach muscles, and a warm heart.

My favorite female character in a long time, Natalie is a kick ass heroine. Funny as hell, she takes no prisoners and is wonderfully strong. She knows who she is, what she wants and despite her insecurities and past, she is going to get it! Natalie is my book soul-mate! My bff! I adored her!
❝Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be shy. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them.
Fuck all that noise. I took the best-looking guy home with me whenever and however I pleased.❞

Clayton tackled our perception of body image with Cream of the Crop. Enforcing the knowledge that size doesn't matter.

My only criticism, I wanted Oscars POV. Gah, I wanted to "hear" him, know him, what he was thinking and feeling. I needed Oscar! I think the lack of connection to him was due to his character being naturally closed off and not talkative. So having his POV would have helped.
❝...this guy was like...hmm. Cross a bad boy with a supermodel, add a dash of linebacker with a big scoop of Polynesian love, and you might, just might, have an appreciation for the wet dream across the market from me.❞

We first met them both in 'Nuts'. Oscar is the owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery who brings his handcrafted cheeses to the farmers market in New York where Natalie lives. Every weekend, Natalie finds herself at that market, at his stall and unable to form complex sentences.

❝Oh, yes.❞

When the small town of Bailey Falls comes calling the big city marketing firm where Natalie works, asking for help bringing in tourists, Natalie jumps at the opportunity. Not only would she see her best friend Roxie, but she hoped to get to see one, sexy dairy farmer.

These two were complete opposites, "he was commanding, forceful, short on words but long on brooding, and the furthest thing from a natural-born salesman." Natalie was loud, boisterous, talkative, and absolutely hilarious. She was a flame and people were drawn to her. Not only did these opposites attract, but when Natalie and Oscar were together, their chemistry was off-the-charts-hot!

I loved 'Cream of the Crop'! It was a sweet, funny, and tender love story.

An ARC was provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review and did not influence my opinion of the book.

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Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,662 followers
October 19, 2017
Cream of the Crop is the second installment in Alice Clayton's humorous adult romance series titled: Hudson Valley. It is my personal favorite of the series to date. It deals with topics related to moving forward with your life, self-confidence, and emotional abuse within relationships...and of course cheese. Making cheese, consuming cheese, selling cheese. Yeah, I tackled the extra-sharp cheddar sitting in my fridge throughout this read. Cream of the Crop was a fun and sexy story that provided some food for thought. Check it out.

My favorite quote:
"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 . . . "

Alice Clayton's Hudson Valley series includes the following installments as of October 2017. Each book showcases a different romance with cameos from past/future characters.
#2-Cream of the Crop
Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1) by Alice Clayton Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2) by Alice Clayton Buns (Hudson Valley, #3) by Alice Clayton
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