Book 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.


Many thanks to Harper Impulse for providing me with a review copy of Summer at Castle Stone. I love Ireland – or at least, I love the idea of it, having never really been there. Admittedly, yes, the accent has something to do with this, but I just find in general it appeals to me in many ways. It’s not surprising, therefore, that I love books in an Irish setting, and a New York City girl finding herself in the Irish country-side? Yup, that’s definitely up my street.

When we meet Shayla Sheridan, she’s feeling pretty damn low. Her boss hates her, her agent is refusing to agree to her ghost-writing, let alone making a deal on her own book, and her love life is all but non-existent. Shayla’s trying damn hard to make her own way in the writing world away from the shadow of her famous novelist father, Hank de Winter, but despite that, she know the only reason she really still has her job is because of him. Just to make herself feel even worse, her best friend, Maggie, seems to have her life perfectly together, with both a fiancé and a book deal. When she thinks it can’t get any worse? Oh yeah, she gets fired.

In a final act of sheer desperation in order to save her career, Shayla finds herself on a plan whizzing across the Atlantic to find Tom O’Grady, and make the publicity-shy chef agree to let her write his book. Even crazier, she finds herself going undercover at Castle Stone to get to know Tom and his recipes, but what’s the least expected of all, is that she may actually start to be attracted to the way of life there.

This book was wonderfully written, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. I enjoyed the stark contrasts between the Irish countryside and NYC way of life, which were plentiful, but avoided being cliched, so that was really well done.

I did find myself getting a little frustrated with Shayla at times, but usually in the way I might if a close friend was doing something I didn’t think would end well. Mostly, I was 100% rooting for her. And I definitely understood why things got so complicated as she got to know Tom – who can resist a brooding, gorgeous irishman?

I was smiling, laughing and cringing as she dug herself deeper and deeper into a hole, and prayed she’d get out of it (preferably with at least a tiny shred of dignity in tact!). Though the storyline itself didn’t offer any huge surprises, it was well-written, genuinely funny and had a very sweet and satisfactory ending.

Rating: star-ratingstar-ratingstar-ratingstar-rating

Release date: 24 July 2014
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Check out Lynn Marie Hulsman’s guest post about writer’s space for Harper Impulse fortnight!

Harper Impulse fortnight

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