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Publisher's Summary

Hot Chocolate is a cozy mystery with an astrology theme. 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.

©2011 Dawn Greenfield Ireland (P)2013 Dawn Greenfield Ireland

Critic Reviews

“Narrator Kelley Hazen is a marvel, EVERY character from the three Bentley driving, Alcott sisters of Houston, Texas to the heavily accented Latino and Chinese servants to the 92-year-old father to Bambie Chaline (who sounds just like her name) is believable and highly entertaining…Hazen and Ireland are an ideal match, their characters and text mesh, giving listeners an unusual, very witty and worthwhile mystery. Because there are so many details and diverse personalities, audio is the ideal format for maximum pleasure.” ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hot Mystery, Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow Creme

Where does Hot Chocolate rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I love this book. It's top of the line in story, production, reader and laughs.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Bambi triggers all the action and keeps the story moving. I love her as a character, not so much if she was a person in my life. She makes me laugh as do most of the eccentric characters in this crazy cozy. As we say in Texas, What a Hoot!! More fun than a barrel of rattle snakes!

What does Kelley Hazen of Storyteller Productions bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The characters come to life with her voice and tongue in cheek reading style. Her voice totally matches the feel of the book and adds another dimension. I read the book first, and listening afterward, enjoyed it even more.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened over a two-day period, and it kept me company through all my household chores. It sure made the time go faster.

Any additional comments?

Dawn Ireland has honed her craft over the years, and has developed a voice that suits her natural humor and Texas style. I can hardly wait for her next book, Bitter Chocolate. What will this wonky group of rich Houston women get involved in next? I know it will be a lot of fun. I read a lot of mysteries, and this was one of my favorite light-hearted comedic novels. It's a great weekend read or listen. I love audio books.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

SMASHING, A REAL SMILE

Would you listen to Hot Chocolate again? Why?

Yes, it's hilarious and very detailed. Lots of varied characters and deep relationships and intrigue. The Alcott family is a hoot and so many relatives and friends!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Joseph, the housekeeper. He is a mystic and really caring for the family, running around trying to protect everyone and keep everyone taken care of.

Which scene was your favorite?

When the sisters get together it's a riot. There is a scene where they are all driving in different cars and the way they stay in touch on their cell phones is pretty funny.

Any additional comments?

This audiobook is great fun! A real pleasure to listen to!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

THIS COZY MYSTERY IS A RIOT!

Would you listen to Hot Chocolate again? Why?

Oh yes. The same reason I would listen to a re-run of a great NPR show like 'Car Talk' or 'Wait Wait Don't Tell' or watch a rerun of MASH - It's timeless. This is a whole new genre of entertainment. She should be writing scripts & creating characters for TV.

What other book might you compare Hot Chocolate to and why?

Any book that has a good mystery, fresh hilarious characters, a great sense of humor and good clean fun.

Which character – as performed by Kelley Hazen of Storyteller Productions – was your favorite?

'Joseph the Asian Housekeeper' is absolutely hysterical. This story is ripe with characters. It has more diversity of character than any audiobook I've listened to.They are all so eccentric and so clearly created. It's really refreshing to hear a narrator that sounds like an adult and not a pinched, nasal teenager.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

'Upstairs, Downstairs' - Houston, TX!

Any additional comments?

I hope this is a series. I'd love to hear more from The Alcott Sisters.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Marshmallow Creme

I enjoy a good cozy mystery from time to time. This book left me wanting marshmallow creme. I found some of the characters to be over the top, yet I enjoyed them. The imagery in this book was well done and I thought the narrator did an excellent job with the various characters and had distinguishable voices for them. This book is a clean cozy listen. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review. The mystery in the story was well done too, and the astrology theme was unique. I would definitely listen to more books by this author and narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a hilarious story

Omg this is such a good story. I had a little problem with some of the characters voices and wondered if I could make it through the book. Thankfully I got through because this one was almost too hard to put down. I think there were too many characters for the narrator to actually do them justice with their own voice. I did not like Bambi's voice. Sometimes the pitch made it hard to hear what she was saying. Stories like this is what makes listening even better. It has murder, mystery, a loveable Louie the dog an Asian housekeeper that I absolutely loved. The narrator nailed him perfectly. I could practically feel the energy rolling off of him. This was a perfect combination of murder mystery and comedy. I really look forward to the next book. Looks like the comedy will role over. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent combination of narrator and story

What made the experience of listening to Hot Chocolate the most enjoyable?

The narrator.

What did you like best about this story?

The Alcott family. I enjoyed how the sisters are close and even when there seems to be a threat to the family, they act in a generous and kind way.

What about Kelley Hazen of Storyteller Productions’s performance did you like?

Her performance of Joseph. She makes him unforgettable even though he doesn't play such a major role. She also makes it very easy for the listener to visualize each scene. I particularly admire how in a story with so many characters, she makes it possible for the listener to know who is who.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

I would like to know what happened next. There was a big change in the Alcott family and I'm curious to see how it all unravels.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 05-06-18

Murder and mystery

Jimmy Ray is murdered in his own bowling alley and the suspects are numerous, including members of the Alcott family he had tried to sue shortly before his death.
The story dragged a little where there was a bit too much unnecessary detail about insignificant things. But then a lot of things were left unexplained at the end.
There were a lot of characters which I found a bit confusing. The narrator had quite a few different voices which helped me to keep them separate as I was listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A little too slow but not bad overall

Well, I only listened to one of Ms Ireland's books before, "Prophecy of Thol", which I liked a lot. This one, however, I like a little bit less...

The book has a good premise: a rich family decides to put their 92-year-old father in an assisted living center, which also means letting his nurse go; the nurse's husband then takes them to court for wrongful termination, loses the case and soon after... is killed. One of the family members is a suspect and all are trying to solve the murder...

As I said, the premise sounds really good. What doesn't work so well for me, in the audio version at least, is the execution... There are a few things that I found slightly irritating:
1) the pace of the plot is definitely too slow; I think it took like two hours to get to the lawsuit and then another hour to get to the murder itself... (maybe it was less, but it felt like an hour...);
2) there are so many characters introduced one after another in such a quick sequence that for a while I lost track of who was who and what their relationships were; what's more, some of those characters do not really matter when it comes to the plot and appear only once or twice, and the one character that does matter is mentioned almost by accident and on the very last pages of the book - he almost seems to jump out of a magician's hat, for the sake of solving the murder...;
3) the book doesn't feel like a murder mystery at all; I had an impression of listening to a social drama, not a cozy mystery, with all those concerns and worries and talks about everything but the murder case at hand...

Having said all that, I still think the book deserves a chance... It is rich in social observations, it has quite a number of quirky characters that will make you laugh. The murder plot itself is rather logical, although I'd like more clues on the way as to who the culprit is:)
The "astrological" side of the story is also funny, with a wide range of believable, realistic reactions from everyone involved in the case:) So, even if it's not a nail-biting murder mystery, it certainly is a funny, intriguing social drama:) And although not the best cozy mystery ever writtten, it's a book that you probably won't regret listening to.

As for the interpretation by Ms Hazen, I generally liked it (as usual) although one or two voices really irritated me this time, sounding definitely too unnatural. And I had a poblem with understanding some of the lines belonging to Bambi's parents - I just couldn't make out what they were saying, but that may be due to the fact that I'm not a native speaker of English and their lines were very heavily accented.... Otherwise, it's a solid, professional interpretation, as usual with Ms Hazen.


DISCLAIMER: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Awesome Listen

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the narrator and it was great. Three middle age heiresses find themselves in the middle of a murder case after the fire the 92 year fathers nurse. The characters are well written and unique with just the right amount of suspense and humour. The plot is fast paced, and keeps you listening. I thought I had it all figured fairly early in the book, I was wrong. There are a lot of characters in this book and the narrator does a wonderful job with all of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Everybody Seems Addicted to Marshmallow Creme

This is a book (and, presumably, a series) without a main character. We've got three middle-aged sisters and their household staff members and life partners. And a 92 year old old goat of a father who founded a chocolate empire that didn't really get much attention. The chocolate, not the man.

We didn't get a lot of backstory on most of the characters, making this book feel as if it wasn't the first in the series. We are dropped into the family fully in motion. The sisters are quirky and funny and rich. We are meant to like them because they are also smart and they treat their staff as family. It worked for me.

What didn't work for me was the working of the mystery itself. I can't really say more without spoiling the book. This aspect may not trouble anybody but avid guessers. Also, there were some things that got a lot of detail that were not especially necessary or helpful in moving the plot along (like the very full description of the diner). Having said that - I should also say that I'm planning to listen to the second book and will hope for more to come soon.

Kelley Harzen, the narrator, was uneven for my taste. As the neutral exposition teller and as most of the characters, she was wonderful and I'd have given her five stars if not for the few characters who deserved no more than two stars.

Overall, it was fun. I enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful