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Hot Chocolate: Book 1 of the Alcott Family Adventures [Kindle Edition]

Dawn Greenfield Ireland
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 460 pages
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Series: Hot Chocolate (Book 1)
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Book Description

Meet the middle-aged, eccentric 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. The sisters fear that Bambi has her sights on being the next Mrs. Alcott and the need to separate her from their father is at critical mass.

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. Out from under the ever watchful eye of Dorothea, Bernie takes to the Lake Sides social scene like a butterfly to sugar-water. He's the best dressed senior and chases the nurses relentlessly. He may be 92, but he's a handful.

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. Bambi had been more than satisfied with her bonus, letters of recommendation and praise from the Alcott clan. She does not want to sue her former employer and the Alcott chocolate empire.

Jimmy Ray's eyes dazzle as Mark Slade convinces him that the court will award Bambi millions. The judge dismisses the suit as frivolous and it is thrown out of court further fueling Jimmy Ray's rage. He's shocked when the callous attorney demands his bill be paid upon receipt.

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.

Who killed Jimmy Ray Chaline? Was it Bambi, his innocent looking wife? Could it have been Tilly, Walter Branson's half-looped niece who had a mysterious relationship with Jimmy Ray? Or was it Dorothea Divine - the weapon came from her house where Bambi worked for three years.

The Alcott clan is in turmoil and no amount of chocolate will soothe their nerves until they solve the mystery and Dorothea is off the hook.

Editorial Reviews


Do you like the Grandma Mazur in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series? You'll love Hot Chocolate. The characters are all quirky and funny, and, when you aren't laughing out loud, you'll be smiling. I've read Hot Chocolate, and I want more hot books from Dawn Ireland, so I can laugh some more! -- By Laura V. Arzola

From the Author

How Janet Evanovich changed my life -- Everything had been going gung ho from 2000-2002. My new dog book (The Puppy Baby Book)  just launched and won an IPPY award shortly after publication.

Artistic Origins, my technical writing business, was thriving with contracts/work, and I was renovating my new house. While that part of my life was great, my dating life was non-existent. It had been six (6) years since I even HAD a date. That is not a typo.
I guess there is a reason for some things and we just have to wait until the veil lifts to see clearly.

You are most likely sitting there wondering what on earth does this has to do with Janet Evanovich, but I promise you, it is coming. Bear with me.
A guy roared into my life in early 2002 and swept me off my feet. I was blindsided. I ended up selling my house, moving out of state and living an idyllic lifestyle for one year. At that point, the great grandfather of all disasters struck. I should have asked way more questions than I did prior to moving, but I did not. Oh well...

Toward the end of summer in 2003, you-know-what hit the fan. I am talking beyond bucketfuls - it was clearly by the dump truck-full. In a nutshell, within minutes on that fateful day I was not only destitute, but had nowhere to go. I was homeless! Good friends back in Houston took up a collection so I could move back home.

Then even MORE you-know-what hit the fan. I couldn't find work. It seems that while I was off lolly-gagging in my new princess lifestyle, technical writing had been outsourced overseas.

If that isn't enough, like rubbing a raw onion into an oozing sore, I had to hire an attorney to handle the nightmare legal mess, which had me living in fear.

And because all those jobs were outsourced, I did not work for the remainder of 2003 through 2005. My resume went around the country and around the globe with little or no response. I lived off credit cards and the charity of friends and family.

My brain was frozen and I could not write one word. Total creative shut down for months.
Then, someone gave me a battered copy of One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. I read that paperback overnight.

O M G! That book changed my life!

I loved Stephanie Plum. What a sassy, wild and crazy gal! I loved Lula! I loved Morelli. I loved Ranger. I loved Grandma Mazur. I loved all the wacky characters that poured out of Janet Evanovichs head.
Then, one night I had a crazy dream about this wealthy woman named Lila Mae Alcott whose family was rich out the wazoo from their chocolate empire.

I must have had a hot fudge sundae or something before bedtime for that to end up in my head.

Hence, my mystery novel Hot Chocolate was born. And my characters are so sassy and outrageous, but unlike Stephanie Plum, these gals are middle-aged wealthy women from Houston's elite River Oaks!

Janet uplifted me. Those characters were in my brain cells. I started writing again.
Work came through. A gigantic technical writing project dropped into my lap. I could hardly believe my good fortune.

Over the next two years I bought every Stephanie Plum book that I could get my hands on.

So - many, many thanks to Janet Evanovich! Janet taught me so much about writing and characters. I love her. I hope I get to meet her in person one of these days!

Product Details

  • File Size: 444 KB
  • Print Length: 460 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Artistic Origins Inc (October 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005XQYP5C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,580 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DELICIOUS MYSTERY WITH VIVID CHARACTERS February 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The middle-aged Alcott sisters, heiresses to the Alcott chocolate fortune--Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea--are fit to be tied. In the midst of busy lives, they must deal with their ninety-two year old father, Bernie, who has become quite the handful.

His nurse Bambi, is another kind of handful, but when they decide they must move Bernie to an assisted living facility, the generous severance package they offer to Bambi is not enough to ward off a lawsuit brought by Bambi's husband, Jimmy Ray Chaline.

Luckily, the Alcotts, very wealthy and well-known in Houston society, have a great lawyer. Chances are good that the suit will be dismissed as frivolous.

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. Dorothea is typically the "baby" of the family, and definitely likes being the center of attention. Lila Mae relies on astrology and believes that proper Feng Shui arrangements in a room can make all the difference. Madge, as the oldest, has some unusual habits. Even the peripheral characters, like the staff at each of their homes, as well as Lila Mae's astrologer, felt like important pieces of the production. I also enjoyed close-ups of the relationship between Chance (a detective with the police force) and Lila Mae, not a typical pairing.

Jimmy Ray is another kind of person altogether. As the owner of a local bowling alley, he is something of a cheap-skate and seems to keep Bambi on a short leash.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Escapist Read! November 3, 2011
By Katy D.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a fun story! This is one of those books that made me laugh out loud more than once. I love the characters and the story keeps you on your toes. The setting in the south is fun too. This author is definitely onto something - can't wait for more from her!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rolling in the aisle Laughter! November 4, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Do you need a break, just a few good hours of harmless fun? Do you like the Grandma in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series? You'll love Hot Chocolate. The characters are all quirky and funny, and, when you aren't laughing out loud, you'll be smiling. I've read Hot Chocolate, and I want more hot books from Dawn Ireland, so I can laugh some more!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creamy, rich, delicious and indulgent read February 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Hot Chocolate is a creamy, rich, delicious and indulgent read that will warm you and nestle you in a blanket of satisfaction.

I am a huge lover of the cozy mystery genre and when I read the blurb for Hot Chocolate by Dawn Greenfield Ireland, I was instantly intrigued. A group of middle-aged sisters, each incredibly different, unique and ornery in their own way solving a mystery? Add the twists and intrigue of voodoo notions and practices; quirky, yet lovable, characters and you have a mixture and texture sure to be a huge hit!

Set in the South, Hot Chocolate has many of the fun and sassy hints of that region. The main characters of Lila Mae, Dorothea and Madge are created so real and impossible not to love. Their southern style and way of life shows through strongly, making for an even richer reading experience. The fact that the girls' 92-year-old father is a horny, yet hard-to-resist gentleman is a hoot as well.

The thing about Hot Chocolate is the fact that this is a story that is so easy to read and quick to get into. It is smooth and is written in a way that the reader feels as though they are right there with the characters and actually knows the characters - not only the main, but the secondary characters as well. I loved Bambi - the poor, pregnant widow; Chance, Lila Mae's love; Joseph and Amelia, employed by Lila Mae, but more like family; and of course Jimmy Ray, the victim (though I have to say the focus on this guy's teeth got a teensy bit tiresome, lol) and I cannot forget to mention Uncle Tito (what a hoot he is - not to mention unforgettable to boot!)

Not only is Hot Chocolate an enjoyable cozy mystery, it is packed full of surprises and yummy food talk. I must admit that I loved the hint on how to make a delicious Cafe Mocha!!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and sweet February 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
There are times in life when only a serving of comfort food will cure what ever ails you. When these time strike, sisters Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, as heirs to the Alcott Chocolates Company, find themselves turning to steaming cups of hot chocolate topped with generous dollops of marshmallow fluff. The main reason for consuming such quantities of that dark nectar is the ongoing care of their 92 year old father, Bernie, or rather the termination of the employment of his voluptuous day nurse, Bambi.

Things heat up a further notch when Bambi's husband, Jimmy Ray determines that she was unfairly terminated and sues the sisters for an outrageous sum. Jimmy Ray is not a lovable person, though the sister's have to admit that he has done a great job revamping the local bowling alley.

Author Dawn Greenfield Ireland has created a very comfortable group of characters that I would immediately feel at home with, should I happen to be in Houston. Even though the sisters are extremely wealthy, they are not pretentious in any way. Lila Mae starts each day by making and eating breakfast with Amelia, her cook. Dorothea treats her staff, Maria and Joseph as though they are family. Ms. Ireland even managed to make me feel bad for the way Jimmy Ray is treated.

This book was fun to read and each time I thought I knew who did it, Dawn would add a new twist or reveal an unknown connection and I would be back to the beginning. Some of these twists include Lila Mae's boyfriend, Detective Chance Walker, Uncle Tito, who is some sort of Mexican shaman, and popping up at critical moments, is the astrologer Robert. These very diverse characters combine to make a memorable 'family' who I'd like to read more about.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Audio Book Review
This is the first audio book I have ever reviewed, so this was an unusual experience for me. I realize that the book review needs to focus on the content of the book, but I truly... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ruth A. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny murder mystery?
This book had a little bit of everything. Romance, murder, even recipes and it hits the spot like a cup of good mocha. Read more
Published 8 months ago by she wolf
3.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate and Houston old-money quirky
The rich really are different, aren’t they? And the Alcott sisters, Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, are a perfect example of ‘different. Read more
Published 8 months ago by So, I Read This Book Today
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
The book was entertaining enough but it kind of fell short on true human emotions and reactions.
Published 8 months ago by Sassycat
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Sisters and Three Times Crazy
This was a quick read and a really fun book. Loved the characters, even the hinky ones. I'm looking forward to Book #2. You won't be sorry.
Published 8 months ago by Anita Nelam
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery wrapped in chocolate.
I received the book from the author for an honest review.

What a delightful tale! I really enjoyed every minute of this book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lynelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun eccentric characters!
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra

Some spoilers – but will try and limit these as best as I am able. Read more
Published 9 months ago by OpenBookSociety dot com
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book
I don't usually like novels but this writer has it going on! I LOVED IT!! I look forward to reading more from her.
Published 10 months ago by Marian LaSalle
5.0 out of 5 stars Delectable "who done it"
Interesting characters and richly detailed - I switched back and forth on the audio just to enjoy the accents. The storyline was believable without being predictable. Read more
Published 12 months ago by AmyCQ
1.0 out of 5 stars just not good
I got to 11% and could go no further. Just awful. Typos, misuse of words, and I still have no idea of what the storyline was about. Glad I didn't pay for this.
Published 12 months ago by C. Koch
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More About the Author

Dawn Ireland is the CEO of Artistic Origins Inc, a 100% woman-owned publishing company that has been doing business since 1995. She's the award winning author of The Puppy Baby Book and Mastering Your Money.

Hot Chocolate is book 1 of the Alcott Family Adventures, followed by Bitter Chocolate. Spicy Chocolate - book 3 - is on the way. In addition to the Hot Chocolate series, Dawn has written several science fiction novels that will debut in the near future, along with other comedies.

Originally from Feeding Hills, MA, Dawn migrated to San Antonio in 1968, then when her first son was one year old (1971) her family moved to Houston where work was more plentiful.

Dawn is the co-author of the animated screenplay Memoirs of a Dog (with Barbara Mackey) which won the Spirit Award of the Moondance Film Festival (children's category) 9/2011. Her dark comedy Plan B was a finalist in the Table Read My Screenplay script competition in 2010. Mastering Your Money won the New England Book Festival eBook category in 12/2008. Melody, A Girl and Her Dog, and Passage were finalists in the Worldfest Int'l Film Festival Script Competition in 2005.

The Puppy Baby Book was proclaimed a finalist in the prestigious IPPY book competition (2001) less than 90 days after publication.

And years before any of these successes, Standing Dead won the Women in Film and Television (Houston Chapter) screenplay award in 12/99.

Dawn has been a member and benefactor of Women in Film and Television (Houston) for decades. Her day job is Sr. Technical Writer for an oil company.

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