Publication: July 12th 2016 by: Gallery Books
Series: Hudson Valley #2
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
My Rating: 4 Stars
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?
Cream of the Crop has been one of my most anticipated 2016 releases. I was ecstatic when I was granted access to it, and immediately started reading. I love Natalie’s story, and Oscar was just the icing on the cake. There are parts that I didn’t like, and that’s mostly due to ME and what I would have done. So, due to those little hiccups, I couldn’t give this one 5 stars. Hey, I’m an emotional reader. If something is off-putting for me in a story, I won’t look over it. Still, I am happy with this book and am eager for the next one.
We are immediately brought into the world of advertising with Natalie. She’s great at her job, so she always gets the cases no one wants; if the porta potties are any indication. I love her drive, her self confidence, and her love of all things cheese. Natalie isn’t a size 2 girl, she’s an 18 and flaunts it well. She knows what she wants and goes after it. But that hasn’t always been the case for her. I won’t spoil, so you’ll have to read it to figure out who broke her heart. In book one, we know that Natalie loves going to the farmer’s market on Saturdays. Oscar, the dairy farmer from Bailey Falls, has his booth there. They never say more than 3 words to each other, but the longing is there. Natalie loses that confidence in his presence. When a request comes through the agency from Bailey Falls, Natalie jumps at the chance. Her excuses for wanting the case is to see her best friend Roxie. At least, that’s what she tells herself. We all know it’s Oscar, and their first meeting outside of the farmer’s market is hilarious. Natalie and Oscar soon find themselves unable to go a week without seeing each other. It’s rocky, for many reasons, but it’s also hopeful in the end.
The thing I love most about Nuts is the humor and fiery chemistry between Roxie and Leo. With every turn of the page, I was enthralled. Cream of the Crop isn’t as humorous, and I wouldn’t say that Nat and Oscar have the same passion as Roxie and Leo. They are more direct and to the point. There is some banter between them, but I wasn’t laughing out loud. It was very hard to get Oscar to open up about his past. When it did show up, I was really surprised. And that is where I really felt like the story took a turn for me. I can’t explain without spoiling, sorry. I’m all for being civil, but there also has to be respect and boundaries.
I love Chad and Logan! I want me some gay friends like them. They just make you feel comfortable, and the next thing you know, you are telling them your life’s story. I love the family time that Natalie spent with her parents and brother. I also love that Roxie and Leo weren’t really in the background too much, as sometimes series that focus on different couples tend to be. They aren’t out front, but they are there. And Polly, Leo’s daughter, is about the coolest kid there ever was.
Cream of the Crop may not be as great as Nuts, but it most certainly holds its own. I couldn’t put it down to save my life. This book can be read as a standalone, but I would say read them in order. I say that because you can get a feel for what type of characters Oscar (the grouch) and Natalie (plus size diva) are. It’s like pulling teeth to get Oscar to talk about himself, and he and Natalie have lots of sex in between making cheese, getting to know the town and its people, and Zombie class. Yes, Roxie still does her Zombie classes, and she’s as busy as ever. This series makes me want to move to upstate New York. I’d also like a hot farmer to go with me. If you are looking for some contemporary romance that involves some hot farmers, and you need an agricultural lesson, then the Hudson Valley Series is what you need to read. Definitely recommended!