Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate by Dawn Greenfield Ireland

Hot Chocolate

About the Book:
Meet the middle-aged Alcott sisters: Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, heiresses to the Alcott Chocolate fortune and mavens of Houston’s elite River Oaks. 

Madge ambushes Lila Mae with Dorothea’s manipulative plea: she can’t care for Bernie, their 92-year old father, any longer. Lila Mae explodes in a hissy fit—she had warned Dorothea years ago that they should put Bernie in an assisted living center.

Robert, Lila Mae’s astrologer, warns of impending problems and he’s rarely wrong.

The sisters call a meeting with Walter Branson, their solicitor. They discuss Bernie’s nurse Bambi Chaline, a blonde bombshell who looks more like a hooker than a nurse. 

Arrangements are made for Bernie to be transferred over to Lake Sides Assisted Living Center in the Uptown Galleria area and a severance package is drawn up for Bambi.

Jimmy Ray Chaline, Bambi’s bowling alley husband, is enraged that Bambi was let go. He hires ambulance chaser Mark Slade to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. 

The suit is thrown out of court further fueling Jimmy Ray’s rage. Bambi had been more than satisfied with her bonus, letters of recommendation and praise from the Alcott clan.

When Jimmy Ray fails to return home from the bowling alley that night, a series of events unfold that shocks the entire Alcott family and their extended members.

Image of Dawn Ireland

About Dawn Greenfield Ireland:

Dawn Greenfield Ireland grew up in Feeding Hills, MA and migrated to Texas in 1968. She has been writing stories since attending summer camp around the age of seven. To date she has five completed novels (science fiction and contemporary), 15 completed screenplays (one optioned in 2009) and as many scripts in various stages of completion. Dawn is the author of two award-winning self-published books: The Puppy Baby Book (hardcover) and Mastering Your Money (print and eBook). Her unique fill-in-the-blanks The Puppy Baby Book was a 2001 IPPY finalist. Mastering Your Money won the New England Book Festival eBook competition. To date she has written five novels (4 science fiction and 1 mystery) and 15 screenplays. Standing Dead won the Women In Film/Television (Houston) Reel Dialogues Screenwriting Competition, and five other scripts have successfully been recognized by: Table Read My Screenplay, Chesterfield Film Co, Greenlight Entertainment, Worldfest Int'l Film Festival Script Competition, The Writers Network Screenplay & Fiction Competition, and Austin Film Festival script competition. Her mystery novel Hot Chocolate will be debuting as an eBook in October of 2011, followed by The Last Dog, a science fiction novel, toward the end of 2011.
Dawn's Website
Excerpt from Chapter 2:

            The mantle clock softly chimed eleven times in the expansive corner office belonging to Walter Branson.

            The trim, middle-aged attorney was prepared for his clients’ histrionics, as was typical of the three Alcott sisters, who now sat in leather chairs on the opposite side of his gleaming mahogany desk. A weathered brass hat and coat rack, mounted on the wall by the door, sported three different Greek fisherman-type caps, Walter’s favorite design.

            His largest account and longest, most endearing relationship with any client dated back to 1962 when Bernard Alcott had walked into Walter’s tiny one-room office that was situated over Wilson’s Funeral Home near downtown.

            “What’s that smell?” young Bernard Alcott said as the embalming fluid fumes wafted through the vents in the floor.

            Alcott needed help in establishing a corporate identity and a business plan but he didn’t have a lot to spend. Walter was already familiar with Bernard’s little chocolate business: Walter’s wife, Zoe, had craved Alcott chocolates through two pregnancies. The funeral home smell did not deter Bernard Alcott, and Walter was thankful for his very first paying client; he proved to Alcott that he was more than just a recent law school graduate. He intervened and saved Alcott Chocolates more than once from business deals that were not in Alcott’s best interests. As his company grew and prospered, Bernie Alcott rewarded Walter by making him the legal advisor for the entire Alcott Empire – both the business and personal dealings. By that time, the Alcott net worth was about one point five million dollars.

            Now, Alcott Chocolates was an international icon and Bernie Alcott’s personal fortune was around eight point two billion dollars. Alcott Chocolate specialties were known far and wide. One could order a chocolate herd of buffalo, a replica of the White House in any flavor desired, or simply a box of assorted sumptuous chocolates.

            With locations in most metropolitan areas across the country and thirty-two locations abroad, Alcott Chocolates were available to a diverse group of followers. Kings, queens, sultans, and presidents were fond of Alcott Chocolates and were often entertained by the Alcott family.

            A parking lot eventually replaced Wilson’s Funeral Home, and Walter hated to see his first office torn down. He had moved his offices out of downtown in the late ninety’s and settled the staff in offices on West Gray, an area where his upscale clients felt more comfortable.

            “The girls”, as Walter was fond of referring to the three Alcott sisters, were icily keeping their distance from one another. Lila Mae, blotchy and with her jaw set, waited patiently.

            “Now, Dorothea, I understand that you need a break from taking care of Bernie,” Walter began.
            Dorothea Divine, dubbed “the baby” or the “Divine one,” by Lila Mae and Madge, sat erect in the straight back, rolled and pleated burgundy leather chair. Recognizing the climate for an impending eruption, Walter did not have to wait long.

            “Walter, Daddy is completely senile and has to be watched twenty-four seven. Why, I can’t even let the children entertain him for a moment unless there is adult supervision,” Dorothea burst, claiming a lace-edged hanky from her purse and dabbing at her Cleopatra eyes.

            “Oh please, spare us,” Lila Mae spat. “What children? Yvonne and Charles are away at college."

Book Quotes:

            “Are you going for the “I’m sixty-six and have Alzheimer’s so I won’t remember this ensemble tomorrow’ look?” Lila Mae threw at her older sister.

            “That beauty queen title was forty-plus years ago, Lila Mae. You are no longer classified as a ‘girl.’ You qualify for all of the senior citizen discounts, which you refuse, I might add,” Madge heckled.

            “Madge, our baby sister is a middle-aged woman who doesn’t give a rat’s tail about anyone else’s feelings. At last count, she had a staff of twelve, including the two alternating nurses. I think she can quit the hand-wringing and make her bridge club without missing a beat,” Lila Mae fumed.

            “The girls,” as Walter was fond of referring to the three Alcott sisters, were icily keeping their distance from one another.

            Dorothea’s caramel-colored Bentley pulled up to the five-car garage alongside the ten0thousand, four-hundred square-foot mansion.

            …she arrived at the second floor landing, Dorothea was greeted with a distasteful and horrific sight: rear cleavage – the butt crack peering out of a pair of very wide jeans…Let me be blunt…you either need to wear underwear, or secure your shirt inside your pants with a good-fitting belt,” Dorothea broiled.

            Bambi’s little white nurse’s cap sat atop her head of curly blonde, shoulder-length hair. She wore a form-fitting dress, unbuttoned to show ample cleavage, along with a micro hemline, white panty hose, and white wedge shoes that seemed to Dorothea to be more appropriate for a movie role – or a hooker -0 than Bambi’s professional status.

            “Giant plops of cow poop’s getting ready to hit the fan.” Lila Mae said.

            The gang arrived at Dorothea’s like a motorcade – three Bentleys followed by a Mercedes, a Cadillac, a Lexus, and a Volvo. Car doors opened and shut.

            “So, people drink at happy hour,” Madge insisted. She turned in her seat to Amelia. “What do you think, Amelia? Is this enough of a situation to warrant a drink?” “I say we get wasted,” Amelia said.

            Everyone made a bee-line for their purses, jackets, and hats and headed out the door. “Chance, you lead the way,” Henry called as he opened the driver’s door of his Mercedes. Dorothea dove into the front passenger side, and Joseph and Maria jumbled…the cars made a half moon around Bambi’s front door, like a wagon train making a circle…

My Review:

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 hollars and faints.

From bimbo nurses to the local bowling alley owner being murdered; a convoy of Mercedes, Bentleys, and Lexus’s driving from one end of Texas to another with phone buzzing between the three Alcott sisters, their lawyer, husbands, detective boyfriend, and maids and butlers. Money in envelopes; safety deposit boxes; it just 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.

As I am not a coffee drinker, my days have always begun with a cup of steaming hot chocolate. After reading this book, I added marshmallow crème to my hot chocolate. I am including my own homemade hot chocolate recipe for your enjoyment.

My Life’s Hot Chocolate

1 tin of Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
Same amount of granulated sugar
Jar of sugar
Jar for 60% bittersweet Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips
Vanilla beans

Combine the tin of Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa and same amount
of sugar in a jar. Shake until combined. Add four vanilla beans (these beans can
be used over and over.

Place two vanilla beans in jar of sugar (these beans can be used over and over)

Dump the bag of 60% bittersweet Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips in the other jar.

To make chocolate, I use an oversized cup. Fill cup with milk and pour into a saucepan.
Add two spoonfuls of chocolate chips, two spoons of vanilla sugar, and three heaping
spoons of cocoa/sugar mix. Whisk until milk is hot and chocolate is melted and combined.
Pour in to cup and top with marshmallow crème. ENJOY!

Now – for all of you non-chocoholics out there, you’ll probably want to decrease
the amount of chocolate – probably the sugar too! 


Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. 

Hot Chocolate can be purchased here:

I have a copy of this great read to give away. It is an e-book, and
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  1. This sounds like my type of book! And thanks for posting that yummy recipe. I'm a huge chocoholic so will definitely be trying it!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  2. Hello Donna,

    Thanks so much for your great review of my wickedly funny cozy mystery, Hot Chocolate. And thanks for highlighting the book quotes. I will have to try your hot chocolate recipe - sounds good!

    Dawn Ireland

  3. Thanks again for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! The hot chocolate sounds wonderful.


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