I honestly don't know exactly how to feel after finishing Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton. On the one hand I genuinely enjoyed parts of this book, and there were some really great moments here. But I also had a few things that I didn't like and didn't work for me, and that left me with mixed feelings overall. One thing I can say though is that Alice Clayton definitely knows how to write a wonderful blend of humor and steam, giving you just the perfect amount of each to keep you flipping pages and not wanting to put her books down.
After a childhood of being known as the chubby girl, Natalie Grayson has it all. Embracing her curves and gaining some confidence, she now has a fantastic job that she is great at and can have any man she wants. But the sexy owner of Bailey Falls Creamery seems to be the one man that turns her into a pile of mush. Every Saturday morning she heads to the farmer's market to see him and each week she is only able to utter two words to him while buying some of his amazing Brie. But when her work sends her to Hudson Valley, she knows that now is her chance to make him see her as more than just the woman who buys his cheese every week.
I really liked Natalie most of the time. While she did have her moments of being a bit high maintenance, she was also strong and confident. I loved how she had overcome her feelings of not being enough and all that she had been through in her childhood and past relationships. She went after who and what she wanted, and made no apologies. Oscar I struggled a bit with if I am honest. He was sexy and had some great moments with Natalie. But there were also times that I hated how he treated her, and I wanted nothing more than to throttle him. He seemed surface deep to me for the most part, despite getting details on his past. While the chemistry was really strong between these two, I wasn't 100% sold on their emotional connection.
I think part of my problem buying into the relationship between these two was the fact that Oscar's ex was so prominent in his life still. It was way too much for my taste and Natalie had a problem with it for the majority of this book. But Oscar basically told her to suck it up and get over it, and Natalie was suddenly okay with it. That didn't work at all for me, and honestly didn't quite ring true for her character and all that she had grown into after her past. Frankly I got sick of Oscar's ex being around so much and seeming to never give up, and I was even more sick of Oscar shrugging it off and continuing on like her butting in and dropping by constantly was normal. He seemed more concerned with her feelings at times than Natalie's, and that was no okay with me. So while I liked parts of this story, I didn't love the book as a whole. Unfortunately some of those things just never left me able to really get behind Oscar and Natalie's relationship and I just didn't feel like they were as solid as they should have been. I know I will read more from Alice Clayton in the future, but honestly this one wasn't my favorite of hers.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**