29 September 2014

eBook Review: Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

"This summer, lose your heart in Ireland…

Shayla Sheridan’s a New York native born into big city luxury, but she’s never really fitted in with the “it” crowd. Desperate to make it as a writer and to finally step out from her famous father’s shadow, Shayla decides to take on a tricky assignment across the pond…

Swapping skyscrapers and heels for wellies and the heart of the Irish countryside, Shayla must go about ghost-writing a book of recipes by the notoriously reclusive and attractive head chef of Castle Stone, Tom O’Grady.

The only problem? He has no idea that she’s writing it."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Summer at Castle Stone as an eBook now.

I first read Lynn Marie Hulsman's work last Christmas when I read her festive eBook Christmas at Thornton Hall. That was a very enjoyable book, and I thought Harper Impulse had found a good new author to watch out for. Lynn Marie has a new book out this summer, called Summer at Castle Stone and I thought it sounded like another good read that I could really get into. I downloaded the eBook from NetGalley, and began reading, and got drawn into the world of Shayla, Tom and Castle Stone...

New Yorker Shayla is determined to make a name for herself as an author, but not off the back of her famous father's coat-tails. However, her writing career is stalled, but Shayla has an idea for a unique cookbook that she knows she can make a success of. Shayla wants to write a cookbook for Irish head chef Tom O'Grady, who cooks at Castle Stone. The only problem is that Shayla hasn't told Tom she's coming over the pond to write for him, and she has to invent a new identity for herself, as Sheila the new skivvy. As Shayla (or Sheila) starts to get closer to Tom, she wonders how long she can keep up appearances for before all is revealed...

While at first I thought the plot of this book sounded quite similar to Lynn's first book, I very much enjoyed the story and although there were similarities, the main crux of the novel is very different indeed. I really enjoyed reading about the characters, especially Shayla. I didn't necessarily agree with her disguising her identity and fooling poor Tom, but she was doing it for what she thought was a credible reason, albeit for her own ends. It did lead to some very amusing moments though, having to remember her new identity, not letting her best friend's phonecalls spoil everything, and of course falling for Tom O'Grady against her best intentions. I did feel sorry for Shayla regarding her job though, it makes the publishing world sound absolutely cut-throat and harsh, and I admired that Shayla wanted to get a contract off her own back, not because of who her father is.

Tom was the best thing about this book for me. He was so perfect in many ways, he can cook, he's handsome and just sounds like an all-round perfect guy - you can see why Shayla fell for him despite the fact she didn't want to! He comes across quite badly at first, very rude but as the book progresses, we find out why he is as he is, and I certainly warmed to him quite quickly. The other staff members at Castle Stone are fun to read about, but for me it was all about Tom and Shayla, and their budding relationship. At it's heart, this is a love story, and I found myself ploughing for the end to see if it would all finish with a happy ending.

The book is set in Ireland, and you can tell that the author has really researched this book so well, everything from the speech to the setting is perfectly written, and is very respectful of Irish people and their country. I liked that we read it from Shayla's point of view, as an American in a strange new country, and we discover Ireland and Castle Stone along with her. One other thing I loved about this book was the relationship between Tom and his mum, they are very close but also very traditional, and I liked how both were pushed out of their comfort zones in this book. I enjoyed everything about this book, from the setting to the fab characters, and the descriptions of the wonderful dishes that Tom conjours up too. It's got all the ingredients of a really good book, and it's one that I can definitely recommend. I really enjoyed it!

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