I was really exhausted this morning after working all night and well into the day. So, when I crawled into bed at 2PM, I grabbed my reader to do a bit of what I call my “selfish” reading. Usually PNR, it allows me to relax, have a cup of decaf tea, and prepare myself for sleep.
Flipping through my PNR shelf, I came across The Bobcat’s Tale” by Georgette St. Clair. Now you have to realize, that shelf is all books that I have read in the past and enjoyed as a little self indulgence. Pulling it up, my brain went “Ah-HA!” You see, I knew I had read something of hers before and had really liked it. But since her readers have mostly become the BDSM crowd, I haven’t read anything by her lately. Ugh. Shiver. Anyway! I read longer than I should have this afternoon, then didn’t wake till 1AM, sigh. But it was worth it. If you have self confidence issues, pick this one up. If you like a good BBW PNR, pick this up. Just pick it up, will ya? This isn’t brain surgery, but it is certainly relaxing, and fun to boot. With a bit of a mystery tossed in as well.
I just finished “The Bobcat’s Tale” by Georgette St. Clair. I had read it quite some time ago, and ran across it again while I was organizing my shelves. The book really touched a very hurt part of me. Like the main character, Lainey, I had a very rough family life, very similar to hers. I always heard “fat, stupid and lazy!” Pretty much like Lainey. Well, I may have had curves, but I was far from stupid, though I admit to being somewhat lazy 😉
So often we are bullied into being something we are not, when what we are is perfectly fine, just as it is. I really admire Ms. St. Clair for writing a book which helped me understand that, just because I am not perfect in someone else’s eyes, I can be perfectly who I am!
“My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.” – Markowski, Hard Spell
Death is when the monsters get you. – Stephen King
Scranton, Pennsylvania fifty years after WWII is a different place than one might expect. When millions of Americans poured into Europe to fight in the war, they picked up a little something extra to bring back home besides war wives and interesting STD’s. Quaint little things like cases of werewolves and vampires and zombies (oh, my!) Needless to say, it changed the way life is lived in the good ol’ US of A. Instead of McCarthy going after ‘Commies’ he gets to do real, honest-to-goodness witch hunts – for real witches. . .
There is a lot to like about Hard Spell. There is humor and a great deal of creativity that I got a kick out of. Gustainis writes an engaging tale with a strong noir flavour which reminds me quite a bit of the feeling I get from the Nightside stories by Simon R. Green – one of my favorite series of all time. There is a feeling of reality in the very unreal situations of the book, which was pleasing. However, the role of women characters in the book was, well, I hesitate to say “demeaning” but it comes very close to the razor edge of treating women as lesser beings – something that I found less than enjoyable. Even the female SWAT team member was portrayed in a less than admirable manner – something that irritated me to no end. I wanted to shake the author and remind him that “noir” doesn’t equate with “testosterone poisoning.”
I listened to the book – the Audible edition. As much as I enjoyed Gustainis’ work, I cannot say the same for the narrator. He was, in a word, completely irritating. What narrator worth his salt cannot be bothered to check pronunciations?!?! The guy STINKS at pronunciation! Come on – you don’t know how to pronounce “were” as in “werewolf??” Weer (like a Bostonian we’re) is not even close to correct, Peter. It is rather insulting to the author that you can’t be bothered to take a moment to learn pronunciations. Especially for such common terms.
Overall, I knocked a full star off for poor narration. Another half star for some problems with trite characterizations (especially the handling of Markowski’s first partner) and with his tendency to treat his characters with something less than respect. Overall, however, this was a completely bad introduction to the series. I hope to find a more well rounded volume with the next in the series, Evil Dark: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 2 – though I won’t be buying the Audible edition. Five more minutes of Peter Brooke and I may have been forced to throw my reader across the room. . .
Classy & Sassy! Both the name of our lingerie shop, and the very much kickin’ Classy & Sassy ladies who run it. Well, Mia is the Classy, and Bryn is the Sassy, but you get the point!
The problem, however, is that the lingerie shop that Mia and Bryn have poured their hearts and souls into isn’t doing so well. And to save it, they have to move “outside the bras and panties” – in a rather big way. And “big” being the operative terminology, when they decide to start a new “personal massager” line – with the model being the ‘spokes penis’ – making personal appearances as well as the model for the perfectly molded product.
Of course, finding the perfect model requires a “test drive” – and of the five potential models Mia and Bryn choose, as Bryn is still recovering from the death of her soldier husband, Classy Mia draws the short straw – taking on the test drives of the potential spokes penises. What happens next is at times hysterical, certainly awkward, and, oh, did I mention funny? Especially when Mia hits it off right away with the first model – who isn’t actually the model she thought he was at all!
There is a lot to love in the humour of the book, but there is some really harsh reality as well. The terror of the small business owner on the edge of losing her business and snobbish and vicious family who will go to any lengths to ascertain that family who doesn’t fall into the family line doesn’t succeed.
While this is a light, romantic book it also shows a rather brilliant bit of social and familial reality which I found gave it a depth not often found in these sorts of ‘light romances.’ If this sounds good to you, don’t hesitate to buy the book.
I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.
Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.
As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.
Giveaway! Kelsey is giving an ecopy of Personal Assets, book one in the series, to one commenter on this blog!
Praise for Texas Nights Series:
Problems in Paradise:
“Starring a sexy lawman and a woman with a scandalous secret, a deliciously fun read.” – Shannon Stacey, New York Times bestselling author
“A hot man, a headstrong woman, and sizzling chemistry set against a homey Texas backdrop—Browning’s contemporary debut has all the assets that count!” -Ruthie Knox, USA Today bestselling author of Flirting with Disaster
“Sinfully hot, sassy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious—everything a southern romance should be!” -Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series
Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning
Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick
Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz
I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg
First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.
Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!
First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.
And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.
Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.
Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.
It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.
This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!
So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!
* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2
This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
Publication Date: July 14, 2014.
About the Author:
Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.
Dayna Chrissie is the lead Crime Scene Analyst for the LAPD, and from the perspective of a former crime scene analyst, I found myself breaking out in laughter at just how apt our first introduction to Dayna is. Michael Angel really “gets it.” CSI may be “sexy” to the television watching public – but it really isn’t sexy in real life!
As Dayna arrives at the crime scene where we first meet her, she cracked me up right away. First, we have the idiotic politico, Deputy Chief McClatchy, whose response to the murder in question is to send beat cops swarming all over the crime scene, stomping any possible evidence into the ground, and telling the “scene techies” to “Hurry up, we’ve got real work to do,” is spot on, and her response to him, which has him running for a puke bucket, is hysterical. Then there is her description of her crime scene wear; ‘the overall which assures that her hips stay slim and the cottage cheese stays off her thighs,’ because, damn those things are hot, and her “Stompy Gothic Boots of Doom” (They wouldn’t win any awards on the fashion runway. But they would keep corpse juices out of my socks.) Angel caught my attention right away. If you can make me laugh and identify with the main character that quickly, you have my attention. And Angel never lost it.
This particular scene is an odd case, to say the least. Peculiar clothing is only the start. Besides bullet wounds, there is a huge, charcoaled hole in the middle of his chest and Dayna has no idea how it was caused. Add that to “python-like” patterning all over his face and upper body, well, he is a puzzle wrapped inside a riddle, forensics wise.
Oh, but this isn’t the oddest thing. Oh, no. For Dayna finds an odd gold coin inside the body – a gold coin that transports her to another world. Oh, and what a world! I was tempted to say that Centaur of the Crime could be described as Alice in Wonderland Meets CSI but that is doing Dayna a disservice. She is a strong, competent, take-no-crap woman (hey – if you are a woman in a police position, you have to be all those things – just breathing the testosterone in air can cause unwarranted beard growth!) But she is also kind, understanding and very, very intelligent. A balanced character that I couldn’t help but admire.
Pulled into another world to solve the murder of a king, Dayna takes the transition well. She doesn’t go hysterical and flighty when she realizes she is surrounded by centaurs and “The Parliament” (wait till you meet these creatures – they are wonderfully written) and tasked with an investigation that no one here thinks can be done. Especially not by a woman from another world.
I loved this book. The fantasy aspects, the world building, as well as the creative development of the species and their various aspects. I have read what I would call “modern-day day fairy tales” before, and this one is at the top of my list of favorites. Enough so that I am dying to see the second volume, The Deer Prince’s Murder, come out on Audible. I am also adding some of his other works, especially The Detective and the Unicorn, to my Audible library.
Of course, a narrator can make, or break, an Audible recording. In this case, I was very disappointed by the narrator, Katrina Carmody. Narrators should understand that they are creating a piece of performance art with every book that they read, and Carmody does a less than acceptable job. As another reviewer, Busy Reader from New York New York put it in their Audible.com review: The pacing was terrible, the characters all sounded the same (with the exception of one character, which had an Irish accent, which would have been fine except that she used this accent for the Hispanic character, who otherwise didn’t have accent); she mispronounced very basic words, sometimes used the wrong words which changed the meaning, and even left words out (I checked with the e-book). Where was the director?
Drove. Me. NUTS. Yes, I have heard worse, but she is far, far from the best. How can a professional narrator care so little for her work product? And how can the production company expect to retain business when their offering is so poorly done?
Other than the disappointing narration, I would highly recommend Centaur of the Crime to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel with centaurs, griffins, and other fantasy creatures. And if you also like procedurals, Angel has a good grasp on that aspect also, so it is all good! Highly recommended.
About Michael Angel
Michael Angel’s worlds of fiction range from the unicorn-ruled realm of the Morning Land to the gritty ‘Fringe Space’ of the western Galactic Frontier. He’s the author of the bestselling Centaur of the Crime – where C.S. Lewis meets CSI. His books populate shelves in languages from Russian to Portuguese.
Michael currently resides in Southern California. Alas, despite keeping a keen eye out for griffins, centaurs, or galactic marshals, none have yet put in an appearance on Hollywood Boulevard.
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
About Dawn Greenfield Ireland:
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 SellerHot Chocolate (the first in the series, and her fifth novel). The Hot Chocolateaudio 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 SpicyChocolate (2016).
The rich really are different, aren’t they? And the Alcott sisters, Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, are a perfect example of ‘different.’ Heirs to the Alcott Chocolates fortune, the ladies are privileged and moneyed, yet don’t seem to be obnoxious about their wealth.
Lila Mae is a hoot. “Oh, no!” she said. “Not only is Mercury retrograde, but the Moon is void and it was just full in Scorpio and will no doubt clobber my sisters big time!” As your first introduction to Lila Mae, you just know that she is going to be a funny character. And she very much is. Astrology, Feng Shui, she is into it all, and has the money to make sure that her wishes are all granted. A “close friend” of Police Detective Chance, there is a cheerful and loving relationship there that brings warmth to the storyline.
Then there is Madge, the oldest of the sisters and quite a character in her own right. When we first meet her, she is trying on clothes, ostensibly for her granddaughter – as if! LOL…. As Lila Mae says when Madge poses in the fitting-room doorway: “Are you going for the ‘I’m sixty-six and have Alzheimer’s so I won’t remember this ensemble tomorrow’ look?” Enough said.
Now, Dorthea is the baby – and “baby” is the operative word here. Constantly working to be the center of attention, and the sister that I considered “spoiled out of her mind,” Dorthea is also the caretaker (if having 12 servants to hand truly qualifies as “caretaker”) to the ladies 92-year-old, grabby-handy father. When the ladies finally agree, with much hand-wringing and theatrical moaning on the part of Dorthea, to place their father in a high-dollar assisted living care facility, it is time for Bambi Chaline, his ‘hot-hotty’ blond bombshell of a nurse, to be let go. While Bambi is more than happy with her more-than-generous severance package and excellent references, her ner-do-well husband, Jimmy Ray, is thrilled to be able to hire a lawyer on behalf of his wife. Jimmy Ray smells a huge settlement against the Alcott Chocolate Empire for wrongful termination, though Bambi is quite dismayed by his actions. And when the court case is summarily thrown out of court, Jimmy Ray is first enraged – and then he is dead, a victim of Dorthea’s prized fork. Yep. Fork.
As the mystery continues to grow, there is an undercurrent of old-fashioned Southern fun and food interspersed amongst the pages, as the girls get down to finding out who killed Jimmy Ray.
I don’t want to give anything else away, but I will say that there are some funny moments in the book that kept me amused. As Elizabeth points out in her Amazon review, there are some issues that set me “that’s not right” meter fairly far off the scale. As a trained crime scene analyst, as is Elizabeth, it is rather hard to understand why the author didn’t do her research. The quirks of the ladies and their friends could have been a bit more fleshed out. Otherwise, for my particular tastes, I would call this a 3.5 star read.
I received this book from the author in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own and are not influenced by this fact.