Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

The Basics:
Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman
Romance, Chick lit
Published July 24, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

It sounded lighthearted and fun.


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.

My thoughts:

Summer at Castle Stone is a lighthearted romp from New York City to the pastoral wilds of Ireland and back.

The story follows Shayla as she hits a new personal low in New York and finds herself grabbing onto the only opportunity that presents itself: traveling to Ireland to ghost-write a cookbook for Tom O'Grady.

As a romance, I think this book was a very slow build. The only contact we had with Tom in the first several chapters was by phone, and the focus was clearly on motivating Shayla's impulsive trip. Once Shayla and Tom meet in person... well, I had mixed feelings. Shayla's got so much going on, fitting into this new world that her attraction and relationship with Tom is sort of another box on the list rather than the starring element.

I don't know how I felt about Shayla. In New York, she's such a mess, completely at the whims of her best friend, her father, her boss, her co-workers, her agent and kind of flailing around at best. I liked her much more once she arrived in Ireland and was more thoughtful. Tom was a little distant for me - as a reader, I wasn't quite as clueless as Shayla about what was going on, but I still felt like he played his cards pretty close to the vest for the majority of the story. I wanted everything to work out for Shayla, but I don't think I was really invested in her relationship with Tom (perhaps any hot Irish man would have done, in my mind?).

The beginning of the book was a real whirlwind of disaster. Shayla could *not* catch a break, and I tried to read it in the spirit of comedy or as a series of zany antics, but it was hard not to be depressed by it all. Truly, if this is what life is like in New York, why does *anyone* live there? I think it also set the tone for me and because I assumed that her deception regarding her identity was going to end poorly, I was waiting for the other shoe to fall until that was cleared up.

This was not a traditional romance, I thought. It was entertaining at times, certainly, but I think approaching it as chick lit is a better idea. Because the romance is only one component of Shayla discovering herself and getting her life back on track, I think reading this as a humorous chick lit novel is the way to go.

Bottom line:

Summer at Castle Stone is a lovely journey from New York to Ireland, and I think that it was quite satisfying on many fronts. I'd recommend it as a lazy day at the pool read or while kicking back in a lounge chair while the kids are playing in the yard. Read it for Shayla's story rather than her love life.

3.5 stars
For fans of chick lit, Ireland, fish-out-of-water tales, journeys of self-discovery

No comments:

Post a Comment