Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: Hot Chocolate & Bitter Chocolate

Author: Dawn Greenfield Ireland
Title: Hot Chocolate
Publisher: Artistic Origins Inc
Publish Date: Oct 2011
Book Blurb: 
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.

Review: This is one fabulous cozy mystery. This is book one in the Hot Chocolate Series and it definitely is different from so many other cozies out there. The Alcott sisters, Lila Mae, Dorothea and Madge are heirs to a chocolate company.

I absolutely loved these characters, especially Lila Mae. They are great southern ladies and an absolute hoot. Lila's gentlemen friend is Chance, a detective for the local police force. These two are quite a couple and when you toss in some really quirky household help, like Joseph and Amelia and you get a book that's full of laughs.

What I loved about this book was how you weren't sure who was going to end up dead. You thought Jimmy Ray was the bad guy at the beginning. You even thought Bambi might have been less than the innocent bimbo she seems to be, but that wasn't the case.

In fact, after Jimmy Ray's murder the family embraces Bambi. She's quite a character too, though she's a little harder for me to love, because she really is the stereotypical dumb blonde. (But she has a heart of gold) The sister's aren't the norm either, because its a little bit hard to imagine middle aged women embracing Bambi as a possible...erm stepmother with a potential heir to the chocolate business, but they do.

I loved that Diane kept you guessing about Jimmy Ray's killer to the very end, which made this an absolutely delicious read.

Rating: 4 flowers

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 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.

Review: Bitter Chocolate is book two in the Hot Chocolate series, and we get to see all the fabulous and quirky characters from book 1 as well as a few more.

There were some things that left you wondering at the end of the first book like 55 year old Dorothea's pregnancy (OMG it might be TWINS!) as well as Bambi's. (Will she marry the father of her baby too).

I really loved Teddy, who is a new character in this story, and I liked getting to know Tilly a bit better too. Oh and there just might be romance in the air for those two as well as some of the other more familiar characters in this book.

I still wish we had more insight to Bambi and Bernie. Bambi's change from what seemed to be your typical blonde bombshell bimbo to sweet girl/mother is a bit to easy, but she's so lovable that you really don't care.

With the murder of Zoe's brother in law at Amelia's house and a few other nasty deeds, this is truly a fun read!

Rating: 5 flowers

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 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).


Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour! I'm glad you enjoyed the first 2 books in the 'Hot Chocolate' series!

Anonymous said...

Yet again a Cozy Mystery series that seem really cute! I've added this to my wishlist.

Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs using images from the Tea Time kit and the Saturday Night kit by MK-Designs