Monday, September 21, 2015

Bitter Chocolate

The Alcott Family eats its way through crisis ... And then three's chocolate ...

The papparazzi got a rare sighting of Houston's favorite eccentric River Oaks chocolate heiresses, the Alcott sisters, at the Chocolate Ball on Saturday night. And what a scene it was. Bambi Chaline, the former nurse for Bernie Alcott, was sporting a baby bump, and the rampant gossip is that 92 year old Bernie Alcott is the father. Once considered trailer park trash, Bambi seems to have been adopted by the family. It lends credence to the rumors about Bernie Alcott. Baby sister, Dorothea Divine, in her 50s, was also sporting a designer-decorated baby bump. What's in that Alcott chocolate? I hear they serve it at the fertility clinic.

The high-profile sisters recently went into seclusion after their prize fork was used as a murder weapon at a bowling alley [how dare they], and the family was shrouded in suspicion [Book 1 - Hot Chocolate]. Although the family name was cleared, they are once again in the shadow of another violent cloud. Wealth and privacy, it seems, comes at a high price these days.

Houston's premier local mystery author, Dawn Greenfield Ireland, has just released Bitter Chocolate, the second in her cozy foody mystery series. Hot Chocolate, her premier novel, climbed the sales charts on Amazon and proved that regional fiction can make a sweet impact in this huge national and international market. The Alcott sisters quickly became the golden girls of Houston with their wit, charm, recipes and family solidarity.

The eager fans will not be disappointed as "The Sisters" bring their quirky southern flavor and ravenous appetites to a new mystery. In Bitter Chocolate, the popular ensemble cast of characters returns and introduces a few new ones. The handsome Houston police detective, Chance Walker and the earthy tall-Texan family attorney, Walter Branson, are still on the to-do list of top Houston socialites. And, Bambi Chaline, after inheriting a fortune from her husband [the one who got forked in Hot Chocolate], learns how to enjoy her money and family connections. Cousin Teddy, a PTSD victim who is now mute, comes to stay and adds to the quirk factor. Tilly, who was absolved of the forking, is now being forced by the family to dry out and get a life.

But again, there is trouble in paradise when Tilly's gangster father is found murdered. Danger seems to stalk this family, but their beloved house man Joseph, along with Uncle Tito's spot-on visions, some astrology and a touch of numerology keep the story moving with foreshadowing, insights and guidance. And big daddy Alcott has to practically be hog-tied in his Bentley by his new driver, Chewy, to keep him out of trouble. Chewy plays Kato as Alcott stirs up more than a few hornets's nests.

Ireland has expanded her hilarious and intriguing picture of a family that eats its way through crisis in full Southern Style. We get to peek into those River Oaks mansions, eat at their tables, and shop at all the best boutiques, all while stalking a killer. Ireland likes to kill off the bad guys, because in Texas, you know, some people just need killing. And as if a good mystery wasn't enough, now you can "Eat Like the Heiresses," as the book ends with recipes for the delectable goodies introduced throughout the story. If you like a lot of daily detail and feeling like you're one of the family, this is your best summer read. *****Five Stars.

Everybody loves chocolate, and this is as delectable as a mystery comes. What's next, Ms. Ireland?

Review (C) by Sandy Penny, Founder of - feel free to repost with credit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

And a Sweet Time was had by ALL!

Last night, Thursday, Sept. 20, Dawn Ireland shared her novel, Hot Chocolate in a perfect pairing with The Chocolate Bar on Alabama. The Alcott sisters declined their invitation as they are still mad at her for the way she portrayed them. But, she's still friends with them, and is working on book #2 about their eccentric family. Gilbert from the Chocolate Bar made white, milk and dark chocolate letters for the author to share with attendees. Deeeelish. Everyone loved the amazing coffees, hot chocolate, frozen hot chocolate, and all manor of devilish delights. They even had the original southern favorite, Moon Pies. The Alcotts mention those in Dawn's book.


THIS SATURDAY, there's a repeat at Barnes & Noble, River Oaks at 2 PM. Dawn is bringing all the leftover chocolate letters to share, and B&N will be offering some sweet treats of their own. If you love mystery and chocolate, this is the event for you.

You can buy the book at the event or bring those you've bought from other locations and meet the author while you enjoy the delights of some incredible chocolate creations. Kindle purchasers can get a Hot Chocolate postcard personally signed by Dawn.

Hot Chocolate her new wickedly funny cozy mystery novel is collecting 5-star reviews on Amazon and will be officially launched internationally on 10/31/12. It is the first in the series, and her fifth novel. Stay tuned for Bitter Chocolate (she posts updates of her progress on Facebook).

The Kindle version of Hot Chocolate is on their best seller list! If you go to the page, look right under Product Details. You'll see the overall best sellers rank, then right under that, you'll see the categories Dawn is a best seller in! Please spread the word.

And, if you have read the book and have not left a review, please take the time to post a review AND click the LIKE button.

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.

You can also subscribe to her blog for ongoing updates or follow her on FB.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate Gets hotter

Dawn Ireland is in demand to sign her Hot Chocolate books at events all over Houston.

From River Oaks where the Hot Chocolate mystery takes place, to chocolate shops and bookstores all around town, Dawn is being invited to endorse the best chocolates.

You'd think the Alcotts were pulling strings just to get publicity for their products, but they're just a product of Dawn's sweet imagination, or are they?

Sometimes characters take on a life of their own, and the author is just along for the ride.

So, grab your favorite cocoa treat, settle down for a read, and find out who dunnit. I'm not telling. I don't want my chocolate supply cut off.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Delectable Men & Culinary Delights

By Dawn Ireland . Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

The Delectable Texas Men of  Hot Chocolate 

Chance Walker, handsome, earthy and rich, he’s an odd one out with the Houston Police Department. He grew up amid River Oaks wealth and had choices in his early years but wanted a career in law enforcement despite his parent’s wishes. Most of his buddies are from a solid middle-class background while he grew up with private schools and tutors, West Point and Ivy League universities with no student loans.  

Walter Branson is the glue that holds things together. What luck for him the day Bernie Alcott walked into his office without an appointment! Bernie, businessman extraordinaire with the Alcott’s Chocolates turned to Walter for legal advice when he knew he was out of his element. With Walter’s help, Alcott’s Chocolates grew without entanglements. The entire Alcott clan clung to Walter for solutions to everything from nasty divorce’s (Lila Mae from Nathan), nixing bad business judgment, family decisions, lawsuits, security issues and family squabbles. Walter and his wife Zoe are always a part of every Alcott celebration.  

Louie Alcott is the beloved Tibetan spaniel belonging to Lila Mae. His arch enemy is Scooter, the neighbor’s cat, but he doesn’t stand a chance of catching Scooter. This little prince of a dog probably does not realize that other dogs do not get fed before their mistresses eat, and his health and well being is first and foremost in all his people’s minds. The entire Alcott family treats Louie like Lila Mae’s real child, and since she is childless, Louie is raised like a human. When Lila Mae goes out of town Louie is taken to Amelia’s doggie day care where he gets to eat home-made tamales and all sorts of wonderful things.

You’re probably scratching your head wondering how come I didn’t mention Madge’s special character among her household. We’ll meet Madge’s person in Bitter Chocolate, the next in the Alcott series.

Eat Like the Alcotts

 And now for one of the fantastic recipes served up in the Alcott mansion.

Chinese Roasted Chicken

1  3 to 4 pound organic free range chicken
½ c soy sauce
¼ c lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 large roasting bag
  • Remove giblets from chicken and set aside for another recipe.
  • Rinse the chicken inside and out. 
  • Put all other ingredients in the roasting bag. 
  • Knead the roasting bag until ingredients are mixed thoroughly. 
  • Add the chicken (whole or cut in pieces, it's up to you). 
  • Slosh and shake the ingredients around until the chicken is thoroughly covered. 
  • Place the roasting bag on a plate or in a bowl and place in the refrigerator. 
  • Every few hours, turn the bag to keep the chicken coated with ingredients. 
  • After marinated to your satisfaction time-wise, cut three half-inch slits in the top of the bag. 
  • Place on a roasting pan.
  • Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for one to one and a half hours, until thoroughly cooked and juices are no longer pink. 
  • Let the chicken stand in the bag for five minutes. 

Remove from bag and dive in or, as the Alcotts might do, place on a silver platter and garnish with raw vegetables carved into flowers. Serve with a side dish of wild mushroom risotto.

Chinese Roast Chicken is one of my favorite recipes.

In the book, you will see that I use this recipe when Amelia creates Chinese Chicken Salad. The roast chicken by itself is to die for and is easy to prepare. The secret to this recipe is to marinate the chicken at least overnight in the refrigerator, then roast the chicken. So make sure you time your preparations for when you want to serve this delicious dish.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Janet Evanovich
Changed My Life

A Balanced Diet is Chocolate in Both Hands
The Wisdom of Chocolate
My Crisis of Epic Proportions

by Dawn Greenfield Ireland

Everything had been going gung ho from 2000-2002. My new dog book (The Puppy Baby Book)  just launched and won an 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’s 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 several dump trucks 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 out of the country outsourced.

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 Evanovich’s 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 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!