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Monday, December 22, 2014

A plethera of pies!

A soot-haired chimney sweep, an exploding flue and an uncooked turkey. It’s an unholy trinity that may make all of Dominic’s Christmas wishes come true.
Despite garnering a mention in the mini blurb for When Love Flue In, nobody eats any turkey in this Christmas novella. In fact, although a variety of seasonal delights are mentioned, hardly any are consumed. However, our heroes do manage to bond over a mince pie or two.

Mince pies are one of my favorite Christmas treats. They start trickling onto the supermarket shelves toward the end of September, taking over the aisles and high profile positions near the entrance and the tills once the Halloween items have been cleared at the beginning of November.

Even with this easy availability—or because of it—I have a rule; I will not buy any mince pies until 1st December. A rule that my waistline will hopefully thank me for come 2nd January when I dare to crawl back on the scales.

Of course, buying mince pies and turning them down are two completely different issues. At every Christmas themed event I attend, from Christmas markets to nativities and carol concerts some well meaning individual will try to entice me with a plate of mince pies and a cup of mulled wine. The hot spicy wine I can pass on without a second glance but to turn down the traditional Christmas pastry takes a stronger woman than me. After a meal so large I’m claiming I couldn’t eat for a week, a mince pie appears with my coffee and before I know it there is nothing left but a few crumbs.

For a creation with so few ingredients no two mince pies are the same.
The pastry case can be puff or shortcrust—even filo these days, although not in my house—it can be lidded or open with a pastry decoration. (I’d rather not mention the travesty of the poor souls covered in icing.) The mincemeat itself can contain any variation of dried fruit; a mixture of sultanas, currents, and raisins are essential but I’ve seen glace cherries and apricots in more adventurous versions. 
When they are homemade I always dive into the ones where the mincemeat has tried to escape from the seams of the pastry and bubbled up into a chewy coating on the case.

For me the perfect mince pie has a rich, buttery pastry that crumbles when you bite into it. It should be stuffed to bursting with mincemeat made with plump, moist fruits and soaked in quality alcohol—brandy is always my preferred option—and finally dusted with a liberal sprinkling of icing sugar.

Never was the mince pie more important in my house than in a couple of days, on Christmas Eve. Before going to bed my son would leave out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer (only one mind, they had to share). Funny how, come morning, the carrot would only have a bite taken out of it but Santa had eaten every last crumb of that tasty treat. My parents started this tradition with me and my siblings and I hope my son will carry it forward into his future.

Do you like mince pies? Are they even a part of your festive celebrations in your country?

Find out more about Lillian Francis here:

A soot-haired chimney sweep, an exploding flue and an uncooked turkey. It’s an unholy trinity that may make all of Dominic’s Christmas wishes come true.
Dominic is celebrating his first Christmas since his divorce, and although he’s spending it on his own, he’s determined to have a traditional Christmas morning, including a roaring fire. Unfortunately, Dominic’s chimney is blocked, which is why Reagan, a soot-haired chimney sweep, is head and shoulders up Dominic’s flue. Dominic is just lucky the man had a cancellation on Christmas Eve.
Unable to take his eyes off Reagan’s low-slung jeans and enticing arse while Reagan sets about the hearth with rods and brushes, Dominic knows five years is a long time to be obsessed with the man who sweeps his chimney every Christmas. This year there’s nothing to stop Dominic from acting on his desires—except his own insecurities.
An exploding flue provides the opportunity for more than just polite conversation and could be the catalyst for a perfect Christmas. But Dominic will need to stop hiding who he really is before a special sweep can light a fire in his heart.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.

Excerpt from When Love Flue In:
“So that’s why you watch me. You’re making sure I’m doing a good job. For your mum’s memory. And I thought you were worried I’d steal the family silver.”
“Er, no. Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.” A blush crept up Dominic’s throat and he ducked his head. He concentrated intently on the small plate in front of him, a shop-bought mince pie apparently the focus of his attention.

Suddenly, Dominic jumped to his feet. “Damn, I forgot the cream. Can’t have mince pies without cream. It’s in the fridge.”

Reagan was closer and he needed to do something to break this sudden awkwardness that had crept into the kitchen. He pushed himself to his feet before 

Dominic could move. “I’ll get it.”

The fridge door literally groaned as he opened it, the hinges making a low protesting whine. It was no wonder, the amount of food the shelves held. It was like opening an Aladdin’s cave of Christmas treats. There was a huge turkey crown and a large cooked ham. A crystal bowl of trifle perfectly displaying the different layers of sponge, fruit, custard and cream, nestled on a shelf next to a Yule log decorated with holly and icing sugar snow, the thick chocolate ganache just begging Reagan to swipe his finger over to taste. A whole medley of winter vegetables took up the bottom shelf. Searching for the cream, Reagan found a cacophony of different flavors and thicknesses crammed in amongst a variety of cheeses.

Attempting to free a plain, extra thick double cream from its wedged position between several different cheddars, Reagan remembered the soot-covered carpet in the living room. He had gotten it as clean as he could but the fibers would need a professional clean to get the soot out of the pile. The heavy tread of many feet would spread the fine dust throughout the house. Reagan had visions of mini Dominic’s, all blond hair and big brown eyes, playing on the carpet, getting sooty patches over their best Christmas clothes.

Turning back to the table, Reagan put down the cream before pulling out his phone.

“One of my mates is a professional carpet cleaner. I might be able to catch him before he goes to the pub. I doubt if he’ll come out himself but he might lend me his gear.”

“Why?” Dominic asked, in bemusement. “I already told you that could wait. You got most of the soot out and I’ll put a rug down before I light the fire tomorrow.”

“You can’t leave the carpet like that.” Reagan could feel his eyes widening in panic. His voice might have risen an octave too, and he was certainly talking faster. Running off at the mouth, his mum would say. “Your guests. They’ll trek soot everywhere. Get muck all over their clothes. I mean, how many have you got coming? There’s enough food there to feed an army.”

“Calm down and put your phone away.” Dominic reached out and picked up the cream. He spooned a huge dollop onto the top of his mince pie. The blush was back but this time it was less intense, barely a faint dusting of color over his cheeks.

Finally, Dominic admitted, “It’s just me tomorrow. No guests.”


It's almost Christmas Eve, and Santa is getting ready. Fancy a treat of your own? I've got one epub copy (or a pdf if you'd prefer) of When Love Flue In to give away.
Leave a message in the comments with your name and email address and be in with the chance of winning an eBook!


  1. What is the difference between a sultana and a raisin? And they kind of sound delicious (you know, now that I know there isn't any actual MEAT in them ;p) and mulled wine...IDK, I kinda like that stuff :D


    1. I'm not sure. I think it's the colour of the grape. Sultanas are white grapes.
      If you ever make it back over her I'll make you some...even if it's the middle of summer! (Ha ha, you should have linked to that post on your blog.)
      I had mulled cider the other day, that was nicer than mulled wine. But then I don't like red wine.

  2. I love mince pies to they are so wonderful and delicious I can't resist them either and every year I mourn there loss and have to wait until the following year to eat them again.

    1. Shirley Ann, if you leave your email address and whether you'd rather have epub or pdf, I'll send you a copy of the book.