As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Christmas celebration and Giveaway at Thornton Hall with Lynn Marie Hulsman

“This is such a lovely way to drive to a party!” Mac is more than excited
about this party.

“Christmas is my favorite time of year. “Lyn exclaims with a huge grin. “The only part that bothers me is these glass slippers. They sure are stiff and if I trip and break one…” 

“As for me I love my dress. It’s just beautiful. I must say I have never looked so good. This purple is just the perfect color for me.” AJ fluffs the skit of her gown. Grinning like a Cheshire cat. 
“Look at the size of that manor house!” Lilly shrieks with delight. 

“Woo Hoo.” Melissa grins from ear to ear.

“Let’s go in and see.” Lyn almost steps on the others in her excitement. The girls with the help of Oliver, who looks mighty fine today, exit the beautiful carriage that the lovely Lyn Marie has arranged for them. With eyes glowing in wonder the girls toss their wraps to the coat guy and rush into the large room filled with Christmas partiers. 
 Lyn Marie eyes them with question as she guides them to a special table arranged for them. “Aren’t there supposed to be six of you?” She wonders.

Five jaws drop as they look at each other. “Where’s Mary?” 

Meanwhile, back on the road to the English Manor a furious Mary grumbles as she makes her way to
the party. “How could you.” She hollers. “One bump and out I fly. They never even noticed. And who picked out this dress for me? Everyone else is dressed to the nines. Me I get a Shirley Temple dress and a long walk in the cold. Merry Christmas…” She continues to walk so even with the freezing weather and short coat she is sweating and annoyed. “Why me!” Echoes through the woods on the long road to the festive party.

Back at the party:

“Oliver is already on his way to find her. She must be just furious.” Lyn grins. “I have her real dress, I can see her face now.” The girls chuckle.
“That’s what she gets for hiding Precious.” AJ hold her cell phone to her chest in affection.

“That relationship you have with that phone is really not normal.” Mac snickers.

“At least Foster, Cuddles, TT, Morena and Nibbie are having fun. I hope Nibbie stops sniffing behinds. We were lucky that Lyn Marie allowed them to come at all.” Lilly shakes her head.

“I just want to see the food.” She strolls to the sideboards surrounding the place where tables glitter in beautiful Christmas decorations. 

Yummy creations cover them and tantalizing scents fill the air.

Lancashire hotpot, blueberry muffins, waffles on an ancient stove-top griddle, strawberry butter, pheasant pie, roasted brussel sprouts, Hungarian paprikash stew, and mushroom omelets, Large crisp goose, turkeys, beef, vessels filled with vegetables covered in rich sauce,
Christmas puddings with brandy butter, decorated cookies, the tables overflow with traditional holiday foods.

Lilly drools and Lyn hands her a cloth to wipe her face.  

Mary finally arrives on Oliver’s arm. Head held high she enters the room as all conversation hushes. Her eyes settle on Lyn like lasers. 

 “I’ll get you my pretty.”  The look on her face reminiscent of the wicked witch of the west.

“Never mind all that.” Melissa takes her hand. “We have a dress for you. Don’t be shocked. You play so many jokes on us.  Now we’re even.”

Mary eyes aglow, looks around at the beautiful decorations and

inhales the scent of balsam and pine. “Let’s welcome our author Lyn Marie Hulsman. We are here to celebrate the release of her new book Christmas At Thornton Hall. Let’s party!”

The room breaks out with cheers and Christmas music fills the air. 

“Congratulations Lyn Marie. And Merry Christmas to all!”

Suddenly sleigh bells fill the air! “Ho Ho Ho,” can be heard from a deep cheery voice. 

“It’s Santa,” Melissa yells. 

“Look his bag is full of Lyn Marie’s books, there is one for everyone.” Mary grins and grabs her copy as books overflow from Santa’s bag of gifts. 

And the people cheer when Santa exclaims in his jolly voice. 

“Merry Christmas to all, let’s party!”

website: http://www.lynnmariehulsman.com

My Next Project
My next book for HarperImpulse is a chick lit involving fine food, Irish farm life, and New York City. It features an Irish chef who is far too myopic about work for his own good. My heroine, a writer, needs something from him. Little does she know in the beginning, she needs more from him than she ever imagined.

Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don't miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend's apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas - with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she's personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it's not long before Juliet's standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.

 The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove... Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet's getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall's numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.


At 28, Juliet Hill is finally ready to be a grown-up. Her New Year's plan of leaving behind a career as chef to the rich and famous in order and go back for her Ph. D in psychology is sure to satisfy both her ultra-logical psychiatrist mom and her buttoned-up lawyer boyfriend. She'll be on the right road to stability right after one last Christmas stint in private service at Thornton Hall, arguably one of the grandest estates in the swanky Cotswalds region of England (think The Hamptons, but with thatched roofs).

Unfortunately, true to her nature, she can't convince her brain to override her heart when sticky situations arise involving lies, paternity, a one-night stand and poison mushrooms! Is a sane and predictable life in the cards for our passionate pastry prepper? Can this creative girl toe the line, leaving her secret spice blends and unpredictable men behind? On the road to womanhood, sometimes decisions are made for us, and other times we have to cook up our own destiny. Join Juliet's journey as she straddles the line between romance and reason. 

Christmas at Thornton Hall
Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don't miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!
When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend's apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas - with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she's personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it's not long before Juliet's standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove... Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet's getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall's numerous dark cupboards!

I reached around him grabbing the hot handle of the iron pot without a potholder.

“Damn!” I cried, letting go immediately.

“Slow down, Jubes. There’s no rush.” He took my hand in his, and eased my clenched fist open. He kissed my injured palm, very lightly.  “Let me wrap that hand up with some aloe gel,” he said.
The tenderness set off a longing in me that I didn’t want him to see. 

“That curry’s going to be too spicy,” I said, pulling my hand away, pretending it didn’t hurt.  “The tastes in this house are particular, you know. That combo will be too much for them, they’re not The Rolling Stones.”

“There’s a saying in India, ‘Spice wakes the sleeping.’” He looked directly at me, his emerald green eyes with the gold flecks holding me in his steady gaze. Then he took my hand again, pulling against my resistance. “Open up for me,” he said. “You must be in pain. Let me look after you."

My hand did hurt, and I did need looking after. I imagined leaning forward and kissing his full lips. He always smelled like cinnamon to me, and I could almost taste it in my mouth. After a moment I said, “I’m here to do things by the book,” and I turned away.

“That’s a shame,” he’d told me, letting me go.  He waited a long time to speak, not saying anything until I checked in, looking at his face. “You know, Jubes,” he said., “I don’t chase after women. They usually come to me.” I opened my mouth to call him arrogant and he put up a hand to stop me. “I’m not building myself up, it’s just that most women I can take or leave, so I don’t make the effort. If they show up, I say yes.” A quick, hot jealousy flared up in my sternum, and I involuntarily imagined him in bed with a faceless woman. Stop that, I told myself. He’s not yours.

“I’m not a monk, you know,” he said. “If you’d respond to what I think have been my considerable efforts,” he said softly, “I would gladly turn a blind eye to the various offers around me."
I wondered what offers he meant… he rarely left the grounds. “Who…?” I began to ask, then thought better of it. Stop the drama, I told myself. If I was going to be with Ben, I was going to be with Ben. I’d invested so much, the ship had sailed... It was the sensible thing to do. And you love Ben, I reminded myself. 

“Sorry…” I whispered and I genuinely meant it. “If it weren’t for Ben…”
“I get it. You can’t blame a man for trying,” he said, twisting his mouth into a wistful smile. He stirred his curry.

“Edward,” I began.

“Let’s just change the subject,” he said, cutting me off. “You should always try for what you want, and if that falls through, readjust. Learned that in the military. Let’s stick with the cooking.”

Lynn Marie Hulsman

 Long Author Bio: Harper Impulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman's varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins' chest, irritated Jeremy Irons's agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she's been seen onstage at Caroline's, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin' Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can't tell you what she's ghost written (obv!) but she's co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.


-Book title Christmas at Thornton Hall

-Pub date December 12, 2013

-Digital first, POD program in operation TBA soon

-Publisher: HarperImpulse

-Editor: Charlotte Ledger

-Member of the RNA, the RWA (Romance Writers of America), RWA-NYC (New York Chapter), and RWA Contemporary Romance Chapter

Christmas at Thornton Hall
On sale now!

Twitter: @LynnMarieSays

Facebook Author Page:

Amazon Link to Novel 

website: http://www.lynnmariehulsman.com

To win a copy of Lynn 's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.
(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)


  1. Lynn, I've got your book waiting on my Kindle. I'm saving it for Christmas Eve and Day to wrap around me like a warm blanket of words. Now, fair warning, keep your eye on AJ and Mac, they're prone to sneak off with the guys and you won't see them for a good hour or so...

  2. Congratulations on your new release Lynn, and welcome to your party!

  3. Thank you, Vonnie and Lyn! I have to say, any English country house with a "coat guy" who looks like the one at my party would be pretty hard to leave. (A smart lady would fake "the vapors" or "apoplexy" and insist on being a guest for a month). The Christmas Cake with my candied book cover on top is the... well...icing on the cake!

  4. So glad you like it, Lynn, and did you notice San ta is busy reading your book!

  5. Vapors for sure! He'd gallantly carry you away! Sell a million Lynn. Where's the spiked punch. Can you believe they didn't miss me when I fell out of the coach! Figures huh? I think they are jealous of my enhancements. Ahem.

  6. Well, you were at the back, Mary dear! Besides, with your habit of wandering off to scout out the local male talent...

  7. I do think it's Santa's cup of tea. Lots of talk about Christmas, holiday foods, decorations. I've heard he likes that kind of thing. And don't repeat this, but I've also heard he likes to kick back with a glass of wine and a bodice-ripper from time to time. Just sayin' what I heard

  8. Mary, I know they all love you. Here are my two guesses about why they didn't immediately scoop you up: 1. More mince pies for them 2. They were afraid all of the charming men would turn their eyes only to you

  9. The latter, I fear Lynn!:) Mary's voluptuous curves attract the young bucks like flies to a honeypot!:) But we do love her - and we love the beautiful country house where you've set your book too!

  10. Ir's my hooters, they're all jealous of my hooters. Why look at that one's butt,not to mention any names, and that one is wandering around like she has no clue where she is. And my goodness, the one with the phone, it's a downright obsession, She calls it Precious for heavens sake. " Mary whispers to Lynn."Besides we do stuff like that to each other all the time. Ya, never heard of slapstick blogging huh? Why, once one of the hostess's actually threw one of my girls out to sea, I watched it float above it's blowhole." The alarmed look on Lynn's pretty face gives Mary pause. "No biggie, she brought it right back, we do this stuff to each other all the time. It's fun--" Mary shrugs her shoulders."Well at least I know we always have each others back in a serious crisis. They are just jealous of my assets.This dress really must go. If I could only find the one they brought for me to change to..." Mary wanders off mumbling to herself. Lynn turns to see the other hostess's behind her, Lyn holding the mentioned dress. Mac waves as they snicker and follow Mary. The last audible thing Mary bellows out,"I'll get you my pretties"

  11. Now I see myself in a big country house with you girls as the innocent one, like the unspoiled Lady in Dangerous Liasons. And I thought I was the bawdy one. I'll warn you though, I'm not above spilling Mulled Christmas Wine on Mary's *ahem* hooters in order to compel her to change into whatever sackcloth dress the maid has laying around. I like my share of the gentlemen's attention, too! ;)

  12. Lol Lynn, I couldn't imagine you as 'bawdy', but I suspect you could be a little bit 'naughty'! As for the gentlemens' attention, I fear the hostesses all seek that - but we're outshone by your own beauty. Every gentleman in the room had eyes only for you when you entered the room, and it is my suspicion that the noble Oliver is quite besotted with you!

  13. Well, I wouldn't pretend that I could steal the attention, but I wouldn't say no to a glass of his Wassail if you know what I mean...

  14. *Giggle* I'm sure, gentleman that he is, that he would always oblige a lady with a glass
    of his finest Wassail!

  15. I KNEW I should have been leaving Santa a bodice ripper all these instead of cookies!!! Thank you so much for the tip, Lynn! Gosh, I bet I'm gonna get a TON of presents this year!!! LOL Thank you so much for celebrating the release of Christmas as Thornton Hall with us! It sounds absolutely as delicious as this cake! Mmmm... Oh dear, I've spilled some on my lovely purple gown. I must to find Oliver to help. Back in a bit! Keep celebrating! xoxo

  16. I'm no threat, have you seen how I look today. Santa's round helper...Don't waste the wine Lynn. I may have to call for backup!!


  17. Hi A J, Good job we have some stain remover tucked away! And I've been leaving Santa mince pies. Now I know where I've been going wrong!

    Oh Mary, you haven't changed into the 'proper' dress we got for you, the pretty, low-cut one, that lets the girls show what they're made of! I'm sure you can find a lady (or gentleman perhaps) in waiting to help you with all the buttons!

    I wonder if Lynn would give us another snippet if we ask her nicely?

  18. Sorry! I've just been touring the house. With the "gentleman" you spoke of *whispers an aside* (if you can call him that). Quite illuminating and educational. He showed me a thing or two about the manners and ways of the English. I believe he was going to treat me to something they call "The Full English," but a pack of dogs started tailing me, and sniffing my, um, undercarriage. It definitely interrupted the magic!

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Lynn, I have lived on my parent's land and the same country house all my life! My father was a hard-working farmer and my mother worked just as hard. Sadly, they died when I was 19 and 20 years old! I met my husband and married him when I was 21, and we raised two children in the same house. I had 36 wonderful years with my husband before his death 12 years ago. I am 70 years old now, and have never moved anywhere else. I have sad and fond memories in this home.
    Christmas at Thornton Hall sounds like just the Christmas read I would enjoy.
    Merry Christmas to all the Roast and Toast Authors!
    rbooth43 at yahoo dot com

  21. Why did blogger eat my comment? Pooh! I was explaining why I was late. Eye appointment ran into a hair appointment and then into supper. So sorry I was late and even more sorry my comment disappeared. Lynn Marie, your book looks fabulous.

  22. Why do they dilate your pupils and then send you out the door? My appointment was at 10:20 with the eye doctor, but the frames/lenses at the office were way overpriced. So, I my half-blind, dilated eyes through a drive through for lunch and liked to have hit a trash can before eating in the car and trying to drive to Wal-Mart without hitting anything or running over anyone. The frames there were much cheaper, but there was a huge selection and it took me forever to choose my frames. Then it was off to a hair appointment and then the grocery store. At least by the time I got on the interstate to drive home, I didn't have the dilated pupils of a fresh zombie and I was able to drive somewhat better. I think now, I need a glass of wine! Where's the bar?

  23. Lynn - you have me nearly spilling my Christmas punch I'm laughing so much! Give's a whole meaning to the phrase 'gone to the dogs'!

  24. Hi Rebecca! Your home sounds so fascinating and full of memories! I love old houses, I used to keep my horses on land in front of a beautiful old mansion in Wales, and it had so much history! Yes, I want to read Lynn's book too, it sounds wonderful.

    Happy Christmas to you too Rebecca!

  25. Lyn hugs her sister hostess. Poor Lilly, what a catalogue of disaster! Careful, we might just incorporate it into the Roast one day, sounds just like the things that happen to the hostesses trying to get to a Roast Party!

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    1. My eyes are fine today and I'm looking forward to my new glasses, but now that I can see, I realize I'm not happy with the hair cut. It seems...wopsided to me. *Hunts for scissors* Oops. Now, that didn't help...Guess I'll have to wear it curly instead of straight until that chunk grows back... Is it too early for another drink? Good news is I get to see my daughter and her husband who are visiting from Germany for the holidays. Bad news, we're headed to the in-laws. Love my husband's family, but my MIL and I have nothing in common, so conversations revolve around me talking and her not listening because she can't wait to interrupt to tell me the same stories over and over and over and over and over. After 33 years of marriage, I've heard the story of my husband charging his friends a nickel to see his new sister at least 1000 times. It was funny the first 10 times. Now? Not so much.

  27. So they were checking the backs of your eye's for secrets Lilly. Did they find any?
    Is the Full English anything like the Full Montie? Finally got to change dresses and who picked the dress?
    It's got so many dang buttons I cant reach half of them. It may be too tight too! Seventy is the new 40, so party on Lynn!
    Where are all the hot guys today anyhow???

  28. Rebecca, the description of your house and your family's life in it sounds wonderful. That's exactly what I've always dreamed of: A house filled with memories of life-cycle events and years of experiences. I am very sorry to hear you lost your parents at such a tender age. I cannot imagine. And my condolences about your husband. I'm now starting to see loss in my own world, but am realizing it's part of the human experiences. In a way, your house sounds like a family member. I'm glad it's stayed with you to comfort. Thanks for your nice words, and thanks for dropping by to comment.

  29. Lilly, you have me laughing until tears come out of my eyes. Your explanation, musings, and subsequent rant sound to me for all the world like a speech out of Steel Magnolias! I grew up down south, and that kind of colorful storytelling and picture painting is highly valued. You are one entertaining lady.

  30. *Googles "Full English* Sadly, Mary, the full English is a breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon (really kind of ham to us Americans), black pudding (don't ask what' s in it), beans, and toast. So, not nearly as exciting as a full monte, thought I had my hopes high. Sounds like you need someone like Oliver to help with those buttons. Just ask him to avert his eyes. I'm sure he will.

  31. And yeah...where ARE all the hot guys?

  32. Hi ladies, sorry not to have been around for so long but some of the gentlemen asked me to visit the stables to check out the - er - horses with them!

    I hadn't realised bacon was known more as ham over there! I don't mind the occasional full English, but without the black pudding. wouldn't touch it with the proverbial barge pole. Most winter mornings I have porridge though, with a spoonful of honey mixed in, or sometimes some of my favourite maple syrup which I brought back from my visit to Ohio this year.

  33. It's the Great Bacon Confusion, rivaled only by the Great Biscuit Confusion: Their "bacon" is more like Canadian bacon (ham-like) but they call it bacon. And don't ask for a biscuit expecting a big Cat's Head number made with buttermilk. Their biscuits are cookies!

  34. Thank you for the fun party, ladies! I'll never forget it...


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