Friday, September 12, 2014

First Fight Friday: Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Goats solve their differences head-on. They don’t give the silent treatment or yell, they butt heads, and then it’s over.

Cowboy Marvin has learned humans resolve issues differently especially those romantically involved. His curiosity sparked, he has invited authors to stop by on Fridays and share the first fight out of their latest book.

A fellow Harper Impulse author and a 
Fire Writer for Written Fireside
Lynn Marie Hulsman 

           is here for ...

First Fight Friday 

with a scene from 

Summer at Castle Stone
*Shortlisted Best E-Book - Festival of Romantic Fiction

Shayla Sheridan decides to take on a tricky assignment across the pond - 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.

“Can I have a word, Mary?” I heard a firm rich voice behind me say. Infused with authority, the question was more of a statement. I knew without looking it was Tom O’Grady. My breathing sped up.

“Of course, Chef,” she said, rising from her chair.

“No, keep your seat. I just wanted to let you know Callum won’t be continuing in the kitchen. I’ll send him in shortly so you can let him go.” I resisted the urge to crane my neck around to get a look at Tom O’Grady.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll take care of it. Chef, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to meet Sheila Doyle.” I swallowed hard, preparing myself to tell him the truth about who I was, and make one last-ditch effort to convince him to let me write his book. If only I had a pitch; I needed some hook to convince him why. I stood up, turned around and extended my hand.

“Oh,” I breathed. I’m pretty tall, for a woman, but Tom O’Grady is easily a head taller. He sported a blinding white chef’s coat that buttoned diagonally up the shoulder, accentuating the broadness of his chest. Instead of the traditional tall, white chef’s hat, his unruly dirty-blonde curls were tied back in a black bandana-style head wrap. ‘Ninja angel,’ I thought. ‘Karate pirate.’ These phrases sat on my tongue, and I didn’t dare speak, lest they pop out. He grasped my hand firmly, and shook it.

Before I could explain who I was, Mary stepped in with, “This is Sheila Doyle, she’s training on kitchen duty.”

“How soon can I have you?” he asked. I examined his strong jaw. His hair was dirty blonde, but the beginnings of his beard were red-gold.


“Mary!” A young boy with a skinny neck protruding from his work polo, and an unfortunately pimply complexion poked his head around the office door. “The Qatari Princess and her ladies just arrived, and The Earl’s sitting in the lounge in his dressing gown watching videos! I haven’t read the protocol sheet but I’m fairly certain that won’t do.”

“If you’ll excuse me for just a quick second,” Mary said, rushing out the door.

“I asked how soon I can have you.” I searched his face. As I waited for him to elaborate, my heart flopped around my ribcage. “It’s only that I just let go of that useless what’s-his-name, and I could use a body. Have you experience?” he wiped his hands on the kitchen towel he carried.

“Not…uh, some.” I didn’t know how to answer. My breathing had grown shallower. I couldn’t get enough air through my nose. My lips parted involuntarily, and I was embarrassed to hear myself panting. “I wish I had more.”

He narrowed his sleepy eyes, and his full mouth pulled up at the corner. Little crinkles appeared at the corners of his eyes. Still, he seemed irritated. “You’re from America, I take it.” 

He looked past my face, and deep into my eyes. My leg was going numb from being wedged against my chair in the tight space. I could smell him from where I was standing, a combination of heady musk and sharp, tart apple. If I took a step forward, I’d be chest-to-chest with him.

“Yes.” I sensed I shouldn’t elaborate.

“You’re not going to tell me you’re from New York City?”

“I’m not.” He stood still, waiting. I’m not going to tell you, anyway. Might as well add this to the growing list of lies. “I’m from Rhinebeck, New York State. Way upstate. Nowhere near the city. The city!” I shuddered. “No. Not this girl.”

“More the country type, then.” He draped his kitchen towel over his shoulder, and crossed his arms. He stood there like he had all the time in the world.

“You could say that.” 

I wouldn’t, of course, I shifted uncomfortably. My leg was now fully numb. I tried to shuffle sideways from between the desk and chair, dragging it along with me like it was made of wood. Putting weight on it was a mistake. I pitched forward. With lighting reflexes, he caught me by the wrists.

“Easy,” he commanded. 

That voice. It was deep and smooth enough to lull me, but even with that one word, I caught a whiff of condescension that brought me to my senses. Sorry, farmer-man. You’re not better than I am. Let’s see who can write a book, and who goes to bed at night smelling of bacon fat. I could feel the Manhattan sass in me rising up. New Yorkers didn’t have a reputation as aggressive for no reason. I inhaled slowly. Baring my teeth wouldn’t get me what I needed.

“Don’t you have to get back to the restaurant?” I pushed myself back as far against the desk as I could, trying to leave an inch of daylight between us.

He stayed exactly where he was. “I don’t have to do a thing that I don’t want to do.” I could tell by the way he said it that it was true and it flattened me. He didn’t want to do this book, and he especially didn’t want to do it with me. “A few years back, I learned that the key to happiness is pleasing myself.”

“Well, that’s just unrealistic for most of us,” I huffed. Smug, selfish bastard. “Some people have to pay their dues, and suffer, and work really hard.” I thought back to my awful assistant job at HPC.

“I never claimed not to work hard.”

I felt pinned to the wall. “Well, not everyone just gets to do exactly what they want when they want.” My skin was hot and prickly. No one handed me a book deal. Manna wasn’t dropping out of heaven and into my lap. “Sometimes you have to toe the line.”

“Mark my words, Sheila. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. I learned that the hard way.”

He stared at me, and I stared right back.

“Apologies, all. Just had to suggest to The Earl that he might be more comfortable up in his rooms until he was ready to dress for dinner.” Mary let out a heavy sigh, and plopped down into her chair.

“Mary, you never said new girl was American.”

“That she is, Chef,” Mary enthused. “But never mind! She’s excellent references and she’ll fit right in. If it’s all the same to you, she’ll start in the morning. She’s only just stepped in the door, and we’ve paperwork to sort. Could I possibly pull one of the bar staff to help you in the kitchen, just for today?”

“Fair enough,” he said to Mary, still looking at me. “You didn’t say, have you been in Ireland before?”


“London?” He didn’t look away from my face.

“For a week, a long time ago.”

“I had a restaurant there,” he said, searching. “Maybe that’s it.”

“Maybe that’s what?”

He crossed his arms. “People here call me Chef, you know. And what I was saying was, I can’t shake the feeling I know you.”

“Well, you don’t.”

His face darkened.

I knew I sounded rude, but the stakes had been raised. He couldn’t find out who I was. In the last two minutes, getting this book done had become the most important thing in the world, and I could tell from the way he was acting that he would never cooperate.

“Thank you for stopping in, Chef,” Mary cut in quickly, rising from her chair and literally pushing Tom O’Grady to the office door. “We’ll see to Sheila, teach her the rules, make sure she’s sorted.”

“As long as I can have her for breakfast,” he said, walking out.

Once his footsteps faded, Mary turned to me and said, “He must like you.”

“Why do you say that?”

“The last girl who talked to him like that was made redundant before she unpacked her bag.”

Copyright © Lynn Marie Hulsman


Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman 

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.


“Witty, funny, thought-provoking & utterly addictive!” – Irish bestselling novelist and author of BEYOND GRACE'S RAINBOW - Carmel Harrington 

Summer at Castle Stone is a romantic comedy that is impossible not to like. The concept seems a bit far fetched but the story and characters, along with the lovingly described location, makes this a great read. Not just for summer, in fact, I would suggest reading while wrapped up in a nice warm throw, fire lit and a great big mug of tea near by. Oh, and maybe a slice of home-made apple tart might help!" - Blogger Margaret Bonass Madden, Library

" Plenty therefore to keep the reader turning the pages and wondering what will happen next. Lynn Marie Hulsman, on the other hand, demonstrates that assumptions about the country are not necessarily well-founded (go Grainne!) and, while she does use ‘Irishisms’ in her dialogue, she is also aware of the word order of Irish English so she doesn’t have to over-use particular words to differentiate between her Irish and American characters." - Leah, GirlsLoveToRead

Summer at Castle Stone 

is available on 
Amazon ~ iTunes Kobo Sainsbury's Nook


Her debut novel 

Thornton Hall

is available on Amazon

Want to know more about Lynn Marie?
Check out her Fire Writer Friday and 
Fire Writer Friday Follow Up interviews.

About Lynn Marie: 

Lynn Marie Hulsman believes that the best things in life are food, comedy, and romance. Lynn Marie's most recent novel, Summer at Castle Stone, has been shortlisted for "Best E-Book" from The Festival of Romantic Fiction in England. Her debut novel, Christmas at Thornton Hall is acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Last summer, she was invited to sit on a panel on global publishing at The Romance Writers of America festival in San Antonio, Texas. She is also the co-writer of the cookbooks Make Your Own Soda, published by Clarkson-Potter and The Irish Pantry, published by Running Press. She is the sole author of The Bourbon Dessert Cookbook, which has enjoyed excellent reviews in Garden & Gun Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. As a comic, she has performed at Austin’s Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival and appeared at New York City’s Caroline’s Comedy Club, Stand-Up New York, and Don't Tell Mama. She co-owns and is the artistic director of the improv group ComedySportz New York. Her very favorite thing to do on the planet is to read books, with writing them coming in at a close second. Her mission is to bring back Chick Lit. She lives with her family in New York City, where she writes for a living. 

Lynn Marie is represented by Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary.

Follow Lynn Marie Hulsman online

Thanks for sharing Lynn Marie!

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