112. Summer at Castle Stone- Lynn Marie Hulsman

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Title: Summer at Castle Stone

Author: Lynn Marie Hulsman

Rating: ★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Contemporary/Romance

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. (Goodreads 2014)

I received this copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thanks to HarperCollins UK/Harper Impulse.

I picked this book up with the intention of just reading something light and fluffy, and while it did prove to be light and fluffy, it also had a couple of little niggles which I just couldn’t get my head around.

The story focuses around Shayla Sheridan, a young woman who is trying to break out from her famous father’s legacy and make it on her own in New York as a new writer, but she just can’t seem to get published aside from being offered to ghost write books of other people, the latest offer being that of an famous Irish chef- who has turned her down on her offer to write his newest cookbook over the phone. Long story short, Shayla winds up being fired from her job and in a desperate attempt to land a book deal, hops on a flight to Ireland, hoping to change Tom O’Grady’s mind which will ultimately save her non-existent career and prove them all wrong.

Like I said, this book was enjoyable, but I did have a couple of issues with it. The first was that there was constant references all throughout the book to how “Irish” everything was. I’m sorry but it seems pretty redundant. It’s like if I were to go on holiday to New York and constantly exclaim how American everything is and how “Well I’ll cross the road here at the lights because it seems like a very New York thing to do” when actually, people do it everywhere, every day- it isn’t just native to that country. There is so many references to tea drinking in this book it is ridiculous- which I also found weird because tea is more of an English stereotype (Guinness would feel more appropriate for Ireland). I honestly felt like this could be a paragraph in this book “I looked up at the Irish sky and felt the Irish wind in my hair. I looked down at my Irish mug full of my Irish tea and I Irish Irish Irish Irish”. I honestly just felt like yelling “I GET IT, YOU ARE IN IRELAND. MOVE ON”.

Shayla herself was quite an irritating character. She was flawed in an over the top manner. She would ramble on and rant for no real reason and constantly land her foot in it. An example of when this is done and it is likeable and funny is in Sophie Kinsella’s books- here, not so much. It felt too forced for me. The character would make gross generalisations about the Irish culture and heritage after meeting about three people and staying in one house on her first night in Ireland, and then the author decided to be a little more irritating and make the Irish characters quirky by writing in the accents. See: “Idiot” written as “Eejit”. I did not find this quirky at all. More incredibly annoying.

Once the romance starts up between Shayla and Tom O’Grady, as it always inevitably was, it felt more and more forced as the book went on. There would be arguments with no real heat or tension behind them, I could see what the author wanted to do – the whole argue-until-they-can’t-control-themselves—and-kiss moments, but it just felt incredibly forced. Tom would randomly explode into anger fits with no real build up or reason for it. As it went on as well, he showed signs of possessiveness which didn’t make much sense at all. Motions that were meant to seem chivalrous wound up being just out of the blue and patronising. He whisks her away on a romantic trip, he leans over and buckles her seat belt for her randomly, and when she asks why, he says “I’m responsible for you” …well guess what,, she is a grown woman and not an idiot, she knows how to bloody fasten her own seat belt! For god’s sake.

I could rant more and more but I think I’ll just leave it there before I wind up knocking another star off my rating.

I did enjoy it as a whole but it has issues which felt unnecessary.

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