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I held off on my review of Hot Chocolate as I waited to post the Bitter Chocolate Tour! But now that it is here, you will see my post for Hot Chocolate on the next page. Enjoy!
And now, with no further ado, my review of Bitter Chocolate!
Publisher: Artistic Origins Inc (June, 2014)
Category: Cozy Mystery
Series: Hot Chocolate Series- Book 2
Tour Date: June 30-July 30, 2014
Available in: ebook, 400 Pages, With Recipes
I admit it, as I have admitted it before. I grew up in the South. And yes, that does include Texas. Oh, I most definitely didn’t live the “gold spoon in my mouth” kind of Southern, but still, I know the voice of the South. And the voice is in full cry in this, the second in the Alcott Family Adventures series.
I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. – Molly Ivins
How can you look at the Texas legislature and still believe in intelligent design? – Kinky Friedman
If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money honey I run out of time. – Willie Nelson
When we left the Alcott ladies at the end of Hot Chocolate Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea had been through a rough time. When the husband of Bambi, the hotty blond bombshell nurse for their 92-year-old father, Bernie, was murdered the ladies found their lives turned upside down.
Now, in their true “Southern Lady” style, the girls have gone into seclusion, resting, relaxing (well, as much as three high strung Southern Ladies can relax!) And things are, of course, “interesting” again, in the “May you live in interesting times” way, as ‘baby’ Dorothea finds herself pregnant at 55 years old. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be dealing with hot flashes at 55, not morning sickness? Needless to say, Dorothea and her hubby, Henry, may be happy about the babies (!), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot to take in!
Twins? How wonderful!
Are you crazy? Vonnie and Charlie are in college! By the time the twins get that age, I’ll be in my seventies!” Dorothea said.
And then, of course, there is Bambi, pregnant by the selfsame 92-year-old father of the Alcott girls, (Hey! I did say in my review of the last book that Daddy was “grabby handy” right?) Now enjoying the wealthy passed on to her by her murdered husband, the disreputable Jimmy Ray Chaline, she has become close with the girls, and spends lots of time coming to grips with her new fortune and new family. So, there is a lot of baby talk going on in this newest installment. But not all is babies and butterflies, of course, and what happens next is funny, complicated and a book which could only be found in the southern climes. . .
This is a “yummy” mystery, as was quite apparent in Hot Chocolate as the girls toured Houston’s high-class restaurants, as well as the offerings of their own household cooks. And you will find recipes on the back of this volume as well – yum! And the whole funny, quirky cast returns in Bitter Chocolate as well, though a few new Houston socialites appear as well, including mute Cousin Benny, uh, make that Teddy, a victim of PTSD and yet another quirky, odd-ball character thrown into the gumbo pot of the Alcott family. And now Bernie has decided he can’t live without his Bentley.
Where’s my Bentley?
Daddy, we sold your Bentley ten years ago.
So, we add Chewie, Lila Mae’s houseman’s cousin, as Bernie’s chauffeur. Well, we never said the whole cast were WASPs!
Then there is Tilly, niece of Zoe, the wife of Alcott family attorney, Walter Branson. We first met Tilly, of course, in Hot Chocolate, when the hard drinking, coke snorting thirty-two-year-old came for a visit, and was subsequently accused of murdering the unctuous Jimmy Ray. Now, cleared of forking over Jimmy Ray, she is being forced by the family to dry out and get a life real life. But the whole “getting a real life” thing runs into a wall when Tilly’s gangster daddy is found murdered. What’s a rich, entitled, chocolate loving family to do?
Ireland’s characters, setting, and attitude are purely River Oaks Houston Southern. Mansions and food, shopping in the best boutiques and food, oh, and chocolate and food, let’s not forget Alcott Chocolates! I will admit, I found this a more refined and readable volume of the Alcott Family Adventures. I still found the constant references to just how much money these people wallow in to be rather, well, snobby I suppose you could say. A half-dozen Bentley’s at $276,000 a pop, all by themselves could feed poor families for several years. Be that as it may, the wealth is the backbone of the storyline, and I was able to put it aside as being important to Ireland’s tale.
I received this book from Ms. Ireland in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
The characters you loved in Hot Chocolate are back with more escapades of life in Houston’s wealthy River Oaks.
Lila Mae is in a tizzy over the Chocolate Ball – a huge event that she and her sisters, Dorothea and Madge, host every year. But due to unusual circumstances, Dorothea and Madge dump everything in Lila Mae’s lap. If it weren’t for Julian Gillespie of Event Is King, the Chocolate Ball would have melted.
Bernie, the Alcott sisters’ 92-year-old father, decides he wants his Bentley back. The sisters and Bambi are horrified. They hire Joseph’s cousin Chewie as Bernie’s new chauffeur.
Wolfram, Lila Mae’s new astrologer, gives clues of things to come. This leaves Lila Mae and her sidekick Amelia with brows furrowed.
On her day off, Amelia decides to bake a chocolate blueberry pie. She discovers she needs to make a grocery run. When she returns home, she discovers her kitchen door is slightly ajar. Arms loaded with groceries, she toes the door open.
Three things catch her attention: a vase of flowers on the kitchen island that was not there when she left the house, her marble rolling pin covered with blood… and a dead body on her kitchen floor.
Amelia’s eyes drift toward the dining room and beyond – is the house empty, or is there a murderer inside? She backs up, turns and hurries outside. After setting the bags on the ground, she slips back into the kitchen and snaps a picture of the dead guy. Then she calls Detective Chance Walker, Lila Mae and finally… 9-1-1.
Praise for Hot Chocolate:
“This cozy mystery is a raucous romp. A light, quick read, it is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through except maybe for the scene when the murder victim is discovered and the scene when the murderer declares themselves tho even those two scenes have elements of slapstick visuals incorporated into them.
The plot is quite masterfully constructed and kept me guessing right up to the moment the culprit was revealed and that is not easy to do as I’ve read or watched so many mystery stories I often figure it out well before the halfway point.
Where the story truly shines though is through the characters of which there are many yet each one is fully rounded and uniquely eccentric.
Food itself is nearly a character in the story and several of the recipes featured in scenes are included in full at the end of the novel.”-Joy Renee Davis, Joystory”
“Hot Chocolate is a captivating tale with vivid and fun characters. I could almost visualize myself socializing with them, and I definitely enjoyed their interactions with one another. They felt like real sisters, albeit high-society ones.
All the players are in place, and we think we have them figured out. So when something unexpected happens one night at the bowling alley, the Alcotts, Bambi, and countless others are caught up in a mystery that had me turning pages rapidly. Who or what could be responsible for the shocking events? What will Bambi discover when she starts searching through her husband’s dresser drawers and files? And what other surprises await the Alcotts?
Through all the excitement and intrigue, we are gifted with wonderfully descriptive moments in the lives of the characters, including the delicious food they enjoy. The dishes are presented so realistically that I could almost taste them. As a final pleasing treat, there are several wonderful recipes at the end of the book. A five star read.”-Laurel Rain Snow, Chocolate and Mimosas
“Hot Chocolate is a light-hearted Southern comedy. The Alcott sisters are the epitome of Southern culture. They are each other’s fiercest enemy and closest companion.
One of my all-time favorite shows is Designing Women. The Alcott sisters, Dorothea, Lila Mae, and Madge could be the Sugarbaker women. Picture Suzanne Sugarbaker every time you read something about Dorothea and you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing every time she hollers and faints. It doesn’t get better than this.
The plot is well written and from the very first page there is no doubt these women live chocolate as much as the company they own makes chocolate. From the cocoa colored Bentleys to the hot chocolate they start their day with, this book is full of chocolate – what could be better than that?! The characters were dazzling creatures and full of spunk making the book an enjoyable read. I found no grammatical errors and the book ended with a surprise you won’t see coming, a definite plus in book world.” – Donna McBroom-Theriot, My Life, One Story At a Time
“I never read anything by Dawn Greenfield Ireland before, but she definitely knows how to write mysteries the way I like them. The story is filled with twists, turns and eccentric characters that are essential in writing a cozy mystery. It’s fast-paced and keeps the readers on their toes. There are also some giggles and a dash of romance thrown into the mix. At the end, she includes some yummy recipes that are featured in the book. Suddenly I’m in desperate need of a hot chocolate with some marshmallow fluff.
This book is delicious!”- Yvonne, Socrates Book Review
“I love reading a good cozy mystery and when it’s paired with good old fashioned southern charm and whit well I’m sold! “Hot Chocolate” by Dawn Greenland Ireland gave me that plus a plenty of offbeat characters,along with a fast moving plot with a murder mystery woven in, sprinkled together with a liberal amount of humor in to make this a book that I just couldn’t read fast enough!
As I read this story I couldn’t help but think that it would make an awesome movie. Set in the south with more than a few quirky characters that had me laughing out loud on several occasions.As I read the story I found the characters getting stuck in my head and could just imagine their southern twang.
If you enjoy reading a fast paced mystery that has more twists than a winding country road, along with vivid descriptions of people, food and places that will grab your imagination and hold on tight until the final page your certainly going to enjoy “Hot Chocolate.” I loved this author’s storytelling ability and look forward to reading more of her work.”-Brenda Casto, VW Stitcher
Dawn Ireland is the CEO of Artistic Origins Inc, a 100% woman-owned publishing and technical writing service company that has been doing business since 1995. She’s an award winning independent publisher and author of The Puppy Baby Book , Mastering Your Money, and Amazon Best Seller Hot Chocolate (the first in the series, and her fifth novel). The Hot Chocolate audio book was awarded the AudioFile Earphones Award on Valentine’s Day 2014.
Her family feature film screenplay A Girl and Her Dog was awarded a Kids First! Endorsement by the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media in October 2012 and optioned by Shadow Cave Productions in February 2013.
Originally from Feeding Hills, MA, Dawn migrated to San Antonio in 1968, then when her first son was one years old, her family moved to Houston where work was more plentiful. After 40+ years of heat and humidity, she has her sights on the Pacific NW.
Dawn is the co-author of the animated screenplay Memoirs of a Dog which won the Spirit Award of the Moondance Film Festival (children’s category) September 2011. Her dark comedy Plan B was a finalist in the Table Read My Screenplay script competition in 2010 and years before that, Standing Dead won the Women in Film and Television (Houston Chapter) screenplay award.
Stay tuned for The Last Dog (futuristic/sci-fi 2015), and Spicy Chocolate (2016).