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. His good looks disappear when he opens his mouth, as he has very bad teeth.
All the players are in place, and we think we have them figured out. So when something unexpected happens one night at the bowling alley, the Alcotts, Bambi, and countless others are caught up in a mystery that had me turning pages rapidly. Who or what could be responsible for the shocking events? What will Bambi discover when she starts searching through her husband's dresser drawers and files? And what other surprises await the Alcotts?
Through all the excitement and intrigue, we are gifted with wonderfully descriptive moments in the lives of the characters, including the delicious food they enjoy. The dishes are presented so realistically that I could almost taste them. As a final pleasing treat, there are several wonderful recipes at the end of the book. A five star read.