About the Book
When stressed out New York executive Rosie Hamilton inherits her Aunt Bernice’s run-down cottage, it couldn’t have come at a better time. With her love life, if she could call it that, exploded in her face and suspension from her job swinging through the corporate jungle, she reckons a couple weeks in Devon could be just the escape she needs from the glamorous, yet trauma-strewn landscape of her life in Manhattan.
But life hidden away in the thatched lodge is dull and how can she contemplate tackling the jungle of a garden in her Louboutins and Armani skirt suit? Rosie, uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy masquerading as community spirit, yearns to return to her old life of social indifference, until she stumbles upon her aunt’s old, hand-illustrated recipe book .With no other activity to occupy her time, she bakes, bakes, bakes as if her life depends on it. With no form of transport either, Rosie takes to the road on Bernice’s ancient bicycle, warm Devonshire scones in the wicket basket up front.
She even has time to date! Austin, her aunt’s handsome, sharp-suited solicitor, is straight from her New York wish list of boyfriend material; and Charlie, the local luxury Spa Hotel’s general maintenance guy, definitely not her type, irritatingly chirpy and lacking in life’s ambition.
With recipes from Aunt Bernice’s own baking book for you to try at home; Corporate Manhattan or rural Devon? Austin or Charlie? Stiletto Heels or Bicycles Wheels? Which would you choose?
What I most love about the story is that love and romance can be found when, where and with whom you least expect it. Rosie's life in NYC is so hectic that she has no time for love or relationships, but even when there is an enforced change of pace, it takes her some time to realise that happiness can be found in the most unexpected of places.
I have always had a herb garden in my back garden. Every recipe in the novel has been tried and tested and, like Rosie in the novel, they didn't always work out first time. But if at first you don't succeed......! And I think that adage can be a writer's resolution, that despite the hurtful rejections and criticisms of our work we all encounter, we must keep on trying, again and again.
I hope every reader of Stiletto Heels will feel an affinity with the character of Rosie, maybe see a little of themselves in her, particularly her desire to make everyone happy, sometimes at her own expense. Of course, I also hope they thoroughly enjoy the heart-warming story with an uplifting message and happy ending
One of the fun things about the novel is that Rosie delves into her Aunt Bernice's illustrated recipe book and attempts to recreate her recipes with varying degrees of success. My favourite recipe is for Lavender Shortbread. It has a deliciously subtle aroma of lavender. Here it is - if you decide to try it out - it would be awesome if you posted a photo of the finished product to my author page.
(NOTE FROM LISA: While Lindsey is DELIGHTFULLY British, I've Americanized some of her terms, and added the equivalents to the recipe in case you want to try it---WHICH I WILL because I have Lavender Sugar from Canada I bought last summer!!!)
Aunt Bernice’s Lavender Shortbread
(1 cup) 200g softened, unsalted butter
(1/2 cup) 100g lavender sugar
(1 1/2 cup) 200g plain flour, sieved
(3/4 cup) 100g semolina (flour)
Beat the butter until smooth, then add the lavender sugar and mix until incorporated. Mix in the flour and the semolina until a dough is formed. Knead very lightly. Try not to overwork. Roll gently and cut out 5 cm (2 inch) rounds. Place on a greased baking tray and chill for an hour. Bake in a preheated oven, Gas Mark 4 for 25-30 mins, taking care not to overbake, like Rosie did. Leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack. Sprinkle with lavender sugar, or if you wish, lavender petals.
Home-made lavender sugar is easy to make. Wrap a tablespoon of fresh lavender flowers in muslin and tie securely. Place into a sealed jar with 500g of caster sugar (Lisa says: 2 1/2 cups - we talked about this in the group: caster sugar is ground granulated sugar-not quite powdered sugar quality. I make mine in a little coffee grinder; others in a food processor or grinder). Shake daily and after a week the lavender aroma will have permeated the sugar. Discard the muslin bag and the sugar is ready for use.
About Lindsey Paley
Lindsey Paley grew up in Yorkshire, UK. She relocated to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North East of England where she lives with her husband and young son and as many books as she can cram into the four corners of her spare bedroom.
An avid baker, with a willing family and neighbours as tasters, when she is not scrutinising her fellow human beings for ideas for her next novel, she is to be found perfecting her swing on the golf course – a hopelessly over-optimistic ambition.
Stiletto Heels or Bicycle Wheels? – which would you choose? is Lindsey’s latest romantic comedy. Her first two – The Wish List Addiction and Ugly Paradise are under contract with Prism Book Group and due to be published in 2014. She is currently hard at work on her next novel – The Wedding Yarn.