Doing it at: 50%
Catnip: Farmer Boy; Small Town; Sex En Plein Air; Strong Female Lead; No Strings Attached; Summer Loving; Skinny Dipping; Food Porn
Shame Scale: There’s no hiding this is a romance, but its a sweet, smart romance that evokes no shame in the enjoying.
Fantasy Cast: Wilson Bethel; Rachel Bilson
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.
Alice Clayton gives her books fantastic names, like Wallbanger and Screwdrivered. And while the books have salacious titles, they all have smart heroines, and a tendency to make me laugh out loud. Mary pre-ordered this one way back in April, and after I finished Nuts I was ready to pre-order the second book in this series (Its called Cream for cripes sake). Nuts is crazy good, you guys.
When I was elevenish I read all of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and over-the-top loved them for their perfect hardship-porn. Pig bladders as balls! Locusts eating all the crops! Mountains of snow and the trains can’t bring any food into town! I loved every detail about calico dresses with strawberry shaped buttons and Pa’s beard twirling while he danced. But most of all I loved Alamanzo Wilder.
Look at him! He was a stone cold 1800’s Fox. And my big glowing preteen heart had a big thing for him, I can not be the only little girl who wanted a Farmer Boy of my very own? Alice Clayton clearly did, because she gave us Leo, and she’s going to get one of our special trophies for it (the trophies are shaped like penises because we are CLASSY).
Roxie grew up in a tiny town in Upstate New York, where her family has owned the local diner forever, and everyone knows her name. She was a shy awkward kid, who just wanted to meet Anthony Bourdain and open a five-star restaurant where she could use all the butter she wanted. Normal pre-teen girl stuff. Roxie escapes, to culinary school, and then to L.A., where she’s working as a private chef to rich thin people who act like butter is a poltergeist. In fact, its butter that leads to her losing most of her clients and getting talked into going home for the summer to run the family diner.
Trudy, her mom, is a free spirit. A second wave 80’s hippie, who had a rotating cast of boyfriends Roxie’s whole life. Trudy needs the diner run while she goes on The Amazing Race with Roxie’s aunt. She pretty much assumed that her daughter would drop everything and come home to help, which is classic Trudy. Roxie isn’t thrilled to be home, but she tells herself that it is only for the summer, and then back to conquer L.A.! Just a pit stop, no entanglements, no long-term plans here. She’s going to see what she can get away with changing on the menu, she’s going to go to NYC to see her best friend, she’s going to fall right on top of the cutest farmer she’s ever seen and cover them both in sugar snap peas.
Leo owns and operates a local farm, and delivers produce to the diner every week. He’s tall, he’s blonde, he has a hipster beard and a nice bulge in his weathered blue jeans. And he and Roxie keep running into and tumbling all over each other. The handsome farmer with the rough hands is definitely flirting with her, and visions of Alamanzo are dancing in Roxie’s head.
The women understandably hung on every word. He was kind, his grin was warm, and his forearms were spectacular. A vintage long-sleeved Beastie Boys T-shirt was shoved up to his elbows, his skin tanned from working outside, faded, ripped jeans hanging low on his hips. When he lifted a box of rhubarb down from the truck behind him, a sliver of skin peeked out, and I saw a woman fan herself with a leaf of romaine.
With the whole town watching and commenting Leo and Roxie strike up a fling, a slow burning summer fling that culminates on her front porch and had me reaching for the ice water.
and he whispered, “It’s been a long time for me,” and I whispered, “That’s ok,” and he whispered, “I don’t know how long I can last,” and I whispered, “Fuck me furious, then,” and he groaned and I moaned and. He. Pushed. Inside. He was thick and hard and I was wet and warm and he kept his eyes on mine the entire time, not letting me look away, not letting me shrink away from this intimate contact.
Clayton’s books may not have as much gratuitous doing it as say Kresley Cole’s, but they’re still scorching. Mary wasn’t having the patience for even potential delayed P in the V, due to a bad run of books:
But I stuck with it, because I needed to break through the EPIC book hangover I got by virtue of reading only the first half of the ARC for The Play. I’m delighted that I did because as a book boyfriend Leo is charming, thoughtful, and sexy without coming across as either a pushover or a jerk at any point. Roxie made it pretty clear that she wanted a no-strings summer romance, but as these things usually go they’re having trouble keeping their feelings out of their sex. Its hard not to fall for a guy who’s bringing you walnuts for cake and making out with you in your walk in freezer (people really DO make out in walk in freezers, despite that weird stale smell they all have).
And the town in general is drawing Roxie back in, people are hiring her to make custom cakes, with loads of real butter and tons of frosting. She’s teaching zombie invasion food preserving classes, shaking up the diner menu, and letting Leo bend her over a rain barrel in her backyard. She’s happy. She’s thinking about staying.
Finished at the diner for the day, I drove my big old American car down the middle of good old American Main Street, and thought about fucking my good old American farmer while holding two sparklers. Now that’s how I’d like to celebrate our country’s founding
When we got to our third act drama I became terrified that I was going to get cliff hanger-ed and I NEEDED a happy ending. If book one had ended with a to-be-continued on Farmer Leo and Chef Roxie I would have thrown my Kindle clear across the room.
Without being a spoiler I will say that Nuts delivered on all fronts, and left me all warm and fuzzy inside. The characters are fully fleshed out humans, Roxie’s flighty mom grows on you as the book goes along, mirroring Roxie’s own realizations that her mother despite all her faults provided her with a very lovely childhood. The high school jock who Roxie was always too shy to talk to has grown up in unexpected ways and gives Roxie a solid ally in town. And the high school mean girls…well, some things don’t change. Also; this book made me hungry. Clayton writes so lovingly and dreamily about all the food that Leo is growing and Roxie is cooking that I was inspired to make the biggest dinner of all times and my kids TOASTED me at the dinner table. Don’t read Nuts without adequate snacks in the house.
Nuts is a great palate cleanser book, a sweet love story, and warmly funny in all the right ways. I’m giving it a solid A and recommending it as a gateway book for anyone looking to take the dive from chick lit to more straight forward romance.
Check it out:
Amazon • iBooks