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  • Writer's pictureLilac Mills

When deadlines loom

After a week spent writing four to five thousand words a day I'm feeling slightly manic and a bit stir crazy, having barely lifted my head from my keyboard except to take the dog for her twice-daily walks. I've been so preoccupied with getting this book's first draft written that I've found myself doing silly things, such as putting a casserole in the oven for dinner but forgetting to switch it on, and putting the bins out a day late because all the days this week have blended into one.

The end is in sight, though, so on Saturday treated myself to a day off and we all went for a long walk along the river and the canal at Brecon.

I had some butter to use up, so I thought I'd make shortbread biscuits. They're a bit on the thin side and I probably baked them for a few minutes longer than I should have done, but my goodness they're tasty and so easy to make. I used the BBC Goodfood recipe and if you want to give them a go, here it is:


150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

100g butter, chilled and cubed

50g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling



Heat the oven 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Put the flour, butter and sugar into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine the ingredients until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, then squeeze until it comes together as a dough.


On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to ½ cm thick. Cut the dough into fingers and place on a lined baking tray. Use a fork to create imprints, then sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar.


Chill the dough in the fridge for 20 mins, then bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Remove the shortbread fingers from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 10 mins.

Here's what I've read this week

Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse by Lilly Bartlett

Put your feet up and tuck into the mince pies, because you won’t have to lift a finger to enjoy this Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse!

Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie. When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can give them, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could the mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?

My thoughts...

A great little novella, this story will transport you to a rundown Welsh guesthouse, featuring two main character's who have little or no DIY skills and who are tasked with doing it up in a ridiculously short space of time, followed by providing hospitality to a reviewer and his family.

Filled with funny and often cringeworthy moments, this is a story you can easily rattle through to put you in the mood for Christmas.

Christmas at Whitefriars by Jill Steeples

When Beth Brown loses her job and her long-standing boyfriend in the space of twenty-four hours, she thinks life can’t get any worse. That’s until she finds herself in the depths of the English countryside working for celebrity chef, Rocco di Castri. Not only has she to deal with his legendary moods, but she has to contend with his prickly girlfriend, international supermodel, Pandora, and his best friend, the rock guitarist, Zak Stranger.

Struggling with her feelings of rejection and loss, Beth finds a new sense of contentment in the country and despite herself develops a fanciful crush on her boss, Rocco.

When her ex turns up unexpectedly, Beth’s certain he must want a reconciliation, but there’s unsettling news which causes Beth to question her own needs and desires.

There’s even more upsetting news for Beth when she learns that Pandora and Rocco are to be engaged. Heartbroken, Beth flees the country to go back to her old life. But will she ever find true love of her own and how will she ever get over the man who has stolen her heart?

My thoughts...

This story was so much fun! Beth is a sweet girl who is good at her job, but not so good at sorting out her personal life, and I loved her immediately.

I loved Rocco even more though. What a hunk - and he can cook, too.

Funny, gentle, with a lovely HEA, this is a wonderful book to curl up with for a few hours of blissful escapism.

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