Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Club: Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis

By: Hope Frost
A-Tac is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. The members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets. I am not usually a huge stickler for reading in order, but I would say to for the A-Tac series. In the first book you are introduced to the team and give a little back ground, that being said....I was hooked on this series from the very first HOT paragraph.

Nash and Annie were not only partners they were lovers. But when Nash thinks that Annie is a traitor and not only left him for dead but she disappeared without a trace, he has no other option then to try and move on. He takes a job with A-Tac and 8 years later, his job and Annie cross paths again, but this time, she is on the wrong side of the law, or so Nash suspects. Annie is a trained assassin and the best in the business, until she retired. When her son is kidnapped, she is given no other choice but to follow through with an assassination plot the kidnappers have mapped out for her. If she refuses, her son dies. When Nash discovers that Annie is the assassin they are supposed to subdue on his latest mission, sparks fly!!!

One of the things I found interesting is that the members of A-Tac are actually professors. They each teach classes in their expertise, it isn't just a front. I loved that there are women on the team and they are protected but not coddled. I loved that you are kept guessing until the very end, I don't like figuring out the who-did-it part half way through the book, the intrigue is part of the fascination I have with romantic suspense.

The series book has it all, HOT love scenes , lots of hunky men and strong women...there is suspense in each story line and it is revealed that there is a traitor in the group. You gather clues throughout the entire series on this traitor and I was wrong about 10 different times and still wrong, and completely shocked when the truth was discovered.

Find out more about Dee's books at her website and check out the cool, interactive A-Tac site. Dee will be giving away copies of Dangerous Desires (Book 2) and Desperate Deeds (book 3) to two lucky participants today, so make sure you comment to win!

It is still cold in Southern Oregon, so I wanted to share my favorite recipe for Chicken & Dumplins (my kind of comfort food). And after mine, Dee has sent one of her favorites for readers to try!

CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS

Ingredients:
3 to 3 1/2 lb. stewing chicken, cut up
4 celery stalk tops
1 med. carrot, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 sm. onion, sliced
2 sprigs parsley
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
5 c. water
1/2 c. Bisquick

DUMPLING DOUGH:
2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, place all ingredients, except Bisquick and dumpling dough. Cover pan and heat to boiling. Cook over low heat about 2 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from pan to cool enough to chop. Add chopped chicken back in to pot and adjust heat to medium high.

Prepare dumpling dough from recipe. Drop dollops of dough directly in to boiling pot. Cook uncovered over Medium heat, 10 - 15 minutes....Enjoy!!

S'more Brownies
Ingredients
Crust:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch fine salt
Brownie:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
4 large cold eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Topping:
4 cups large marshmallows
Directions
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.

And the recipe from Dee:
Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from recipe from Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro, NYC)


Serves 6
This classic dish is served at Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro and is known as “the best macaroni and cheese in town.”

Ingredients
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
salt
Black pepper in a mill
3 cups Gruyere or Comte, grated (from 6 to 8 ounces)
1/2 cup mascarpone (can substitute ricotta or farmers cheese)
1lb dry pasta

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour 2 quarts of water into a 3-quart pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. In a small sauce pan, melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, toss well, and set aside.
3. Put the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt it over low heat. Add the flour and cook for 4 minutes, whisking constantly. Pour in the milk and cook for 4 minutes, whisking constantly. Add 2 teaspoons salt , 4 grinds of pepper (can substitute a shake or two of white pepper), the Gruyere and mascarpone, and continue to whisk until the cheese is well incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the cheese sauce into a large bowl.
4. Add 2 tsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and add it to the bowl with the cheese sauce. Mix well with a wooden spoon. (can just mix in the baking dish if your prefer).
5. Pour the macaroni mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approximately 40 minutes. Serve.

Also really good with one bag of Italian grated cheese (Kraft) – 2 cups. And chopped sharp cheddar. About a cup and a half. Instead of the gruyere and mascarpone.

59 comments:

Aly said...

WOO HOO! I had read all of Dee's backlist and was thrilled to see this new series was coming out!

I, like Hope, enjoyed the fact that although the University is a cover for A-Tac, the members are actually professors that get in there and teach. And know their subject! Of course I laughed at the girls that just needed to hang back to talk to the professors. There were never any HOT professors at my college :::pout:::

The entire A-Tac team captures your attention. Although Annie & Nash are the main characters for this book, I think Dee did a great job of setting up the next books with great characterization.

Add a great mystery that keeps you guessing and you have a great read!

And thanks for the recipes! They all look great but very dangerous too! :)

Alison said...

LOL Aly...there were no HOT professors at my school either!

Dark Deceptions was my first Dee Davis book and it wont be my last. I loved the action, suspense and the chemistry between Annie and Nash. All the twists and turns kept me hooked.

I can't wait to read the remaining books in the series...Dee did a great job letting us get to know the other A-Tac team members in this book.

Thanks for the recipes...they look AMAZING!

krisgils33 said...

I love this book! and the series! oh, and pretty much absolutely everything ever written by Dee Davis!!! :-)

Annie and Nash are such great characters; I love that aspect where you've been demolished by someone and are still attracted to them. Such torture! I especially enjoy how the setup for the rest of the series is subtle and not in-your-face obvious at the end. Alot of books do that and it is such a turn off.

Great job hostessing Hope! Thanks for the recipes. which, as you know, I'll likely never use!....but I do enjoy collecting them :-)

Mary G said...

-

Barbara said...

Dark Deceptions was my first Dee Davis book also. Awesome book! The whole series is great, can't wait for the next one. Have a great day! I'm off to check out the interactive A-Tac site I just spotted!

Amy in CA said...

I have read all of Dee's backlist (in fact Aly may have started me on them??) and LOVE them! They are hot with twists and turns you didn't always see coming.

mmmmmmmm . . . macaroni and cheese . . . this recipe will be tested! There is nothing better than mac & cheese for dinner (and maybe an apple cuz veggies DON'T go with m&c!!!)

Mary G said...

Elite Ops - check
Reunited lovers - check
Secret child - check

Yep, pretty much my fave recipes all rolled into one. I loved this book. Don't enter me. I have all of them.

BTW also loved Eye Of The Storm.

Ronlyn said...

Morning all! I'm still blurry-eyed thanks to a kiddo who wanted to party all night. Hopefully I'll be making more sense soon...

Marie Force said...

Hey there,
I am bleary-eyed too thanks to a kid and husband who have the coughing crud. Look forward to chatting today!

Hope said...

*waving* Hello from the left coast.

I loved this whole series, and I agree with Aly, I didn't have any hot professors either.

Please welcome Dee today ladies, she will be visiting shortly. Thanks for coming in to chat with us Dee.

Dee, for those who don't know...when is the next A-Tac series out? Will we be seeing more of the original A-Tac team?

Aly said...

I am just curious why I get the blame for starting people on things? LOL!

I really had to think back -- far far far back -- and could not come up with a single hot professor. And what a damn shame that is! I think we all need to go find Sunderland and hang out there :)

Hope said...

It really is best to just blame you Aly :)

I think that if there were more hot professors in my accounting classes, I would have gotten better grades.

Dee Davis said...

Hi guys,
Sorry to be checking in so late! But how much fun to be here. And seriously the mac and cheese is sooooooo good! (and you're right not at all good for you!). There actually were a couple of hot professors at my college, so it wasn't too much of a leap when creating A-TAC. And Sunderland is actually based on Hendrix where I went to school--although I moved it to NY.

The next A-Tac book--Deep Disclosure is coming out in September and definitately features other A-Tac members as well. In addition we're going to be seeing a lot more of Harrison Blake (from my Last Chance series)-as he joins A-Tac full time. The fifth and sixth books Deadly Dance and Double Danger will be coming out next year.

Dee Davis said...

Oh and I'm announcing here before anywhere else that there is going to be a new A-Tac novella --coming out this summer. It's called Daring--and will feature one of the current A-Tac members who is on leave working in Africa.

And thank you for all the lovely comments about the books!!!!!

Hope said...

YAY....a Novella :) That should keep me going till September!!!!

I love all of the guys and gals from the A-Tac group, but I have a special fondness for Nash and Annie. Do you have a favorite that you have already written or are in the process of writing?

Dee Davis said...

I don't really have favorites. Although I'll admit, that I am slightly more fond of Drake and Avery for some reason. And I should add that the novella will only be available in e-format but in all the various formats--Nook, Kindle, I-pad etc...

Marie Force said...

Aly,
Didn't you get the memo that you are the one who is blamed for everything around here? LOL! You get us started on these series that take over our lives. So yes, it is YOUR FAULT! :-)

Marie Force said...

Dee,
I always like to ask visiting authors about their path to publication. There's always a good story in the journey! Do you mind sharing yours?

Dee Davis said...

Mine is actually a Cinderella story. I was approaching the big 4-0 and sort of rudderless. My daughter was in school and so while I wanted to be home for her, I also wanted to do something for myself. So I made a list of things I'd always wanted to do-like be in a Broadway Musical or Be a Rock Singer. LOL. Those ships had kind of sailed. But on the list I'd also written "write a book". And that I decided could be done at home in pjs without worrying about body image and vocal strength. So I began to research the industry and work on ideas and out of all of that came Everything In Its Time--my--literally--first novel. A time travel set in fourteeth century Scotland. I finished in August of 1998. Got an agent in February of '99 and she sold the book that September. And it came out in July of 2000. And here I am eleven years later, pinching myself on a regular basis--because I still can't believe that my words actually grace the pages of a book!

Mary G said...

Love it. Job I can do in my pj's.
What a great story.

Hope said...

Great story Dee...I will have to try and find a copy of Everything In Its Time.

Do you have a writing routine?

Dee Davis said...

Yes and no... I write during the day mainly when everyone is gone. But sometimes toward the end of a book when it's coming fast and furious I stay up late and write at night as well. I like it because it's quiet and there are fewer distractions! My "office" is in the bedroom becasue apartments in NYC are small. But it works out well. I usually hit a writing groove just after lunch.

Dee Davis said...

Late night writing is done at the dining room table though as husband would not be pleased if I was clacking away in the bedroom.

Hope said...

Do you have any books coming out or in the works that aren't A-Tac?

Dee Davis said...

I don't have anything else at the moment, Hope. Which is sort of unusal for me. But I'm really enjoying concentrating on the series for the time being.

I have been thinking about reissuing my three time travels (all out of print) as e-novels. But mainly just in the thinking stages.

Ronlyn said...

catching up on some of the comments: Aly & Hope...I had a few hot professors. Several NOT hot professors, but there were a few of them that were yummy...

Ronlyn said...

Dee, have you ever had a character that you just HAD to write about? Someone who burst onto the scene and wouldn't be ignored?

Dee Davis said...

I did actually. There is a character in The Promise (a time travel) named Arless who was a walk on character--but he was so entertaining (at least to me) he wound up with a much bigger role (although a not so happy ending).

Tara said...

It's all Aly's fault! Alright, now that I got that out of the way....

Marie, I downloaded The Wreck, and am excited to have a new book to read on my flight home tomorrow.

Hope,a great introduction to an amazing book and author. And the recipes, ladies, I can't wait to try these. I am a sucker for brownies and mac and cheese, yum!

Dee, I love the A-Tac series and am so excited to see there are more to come. I love Annie and Nash and enjoy seeing them again in the other A-Tac books.

Well I am off to meetings all day, so I won't be back to play until late tonight. Have a great day everyone!

Marie Force said...

That's a great story Dee! I work at home (often in PJs) for my day job, so it's a great thing to be comfy at work. Congrats on your success!

Marie Force said...

Thanks for getting The Wreck, Tara! :-) Safe travels.

Hope said...

Who are you reading right now Dee? I finished my A-Tac reread this week and am currently in between books, I can't decide who I want to tackle next. I have been on a cowboy kick the past few books, so I am thinking a SEAL should be coming my way soon.

Alison said...

I am so jealous of you ladies getting to work in your pjs!

Alison said...

Now, that I've expressed my jealousy :-)

Dee, where/how do you come up with ideas for your books?

Dee Davis said...

I just finished reading Countess of Scandal by Laura McKee. And recently read the latest Draycott Abby book from Christina Skye.

Dee Davis said...

Ideas come from pretty much everywhere. Sometimes it's a character that jumps into my head and I fashion a story around them. Like Riley in Dark of the Night Or sometimes it's the place that drives the story like The Promise which is set in a fictional version of Creede Colorado where my family has a summer home. Or sometimes a newspaper story, or a new technological advance will stimulate a story. A-Tac came from a thought I had about my brother in law (a teacher) and how interesting it would be if he led a secret life. And Sunderland and A-Tac were born.

Dee Davis said...

Oops that's Laurel McKee

Hope said...

Dee, when dreaming up A-Tac, did you have all the characters pretty much defined or did some of them surprise you as you went along?

Ronlyn said...

What is your favorite type of research in re: to the technical aspects of the A-Tac series?

Dee Davis said...

Characters always suprise me as I go along. There are always things about them that they reveal when I least expect it. But I did draw general outlines of everyone before I started Dark Deceptions, and for the most part what I originally wrote is pretty much how they turned out. Except for one character (who for the sake of the series shall remain unnamed who totally shocked the heck out of me.)

Dee Davis said...

I am always fascinated with the places I write about. And had to learn a lot about Colombia for Dangerous Desires. But technically, I'm not sure I "enjoyed" it, but was fascinated with learning about suitcase bombs and nanno technology for Desparate Deeds. And I also am always interested in the capabilities of computers and computer forensics in today's world. Part of the the initial setting for Dark Deceptions is New York City and real life places (sometimes slightly altered) that I frequent. The dog run below where Nash first captures Annie is where my dog actually likes to hang out.

Hope said...

Oh intrigue.....

I am not a writer, don't think it is something I could do, or honestly would be interested in. I like my review blog as it is all my own opinions BUT....what advise do you have for those who do want to write?

Mary G said...

Welcome Dee
Many articles have been written regarding the balance of romance and suspense in romance novels.
Is it something you have to think about or does it flow naturally?

Ronlyn said...

LOL @ all of your qualifications Hope.

Johanna R Jochum said...

I have not read Dee's books! This is the first I have heard of your work. I will be changing that fact soon. This series sounds HOT! I love romantic suspense and from everyones raves I just have to get this book! Thanks for sharing with us today!

Hope said...

Ronlyn, just wanted to be upfront LOL...and the cold meds are making me wordy too (thats my story)

Dee Davis said...

BIC Butt in Chair. Writing is about perseverence more than anything. Nora Roberts once said you can fix anything but a blank page.

Dee Davis said...

I think the answer to that Mary, is a little of both. It is crucial to make sure that not only are the suspense and romance balanced but intertwined, the two enhancing each other. And I think sometimes I get too involved in one side or the other and so on revision I need to adjust accordingly.

Marie Force said...

LOL on the BIC, Dee. That is the truth, and perseverance is my favorite word when it comes to my writing career. One of my favorite quotes about writing is: A professional writer is an amateur who didn't give up. I also love Nora's quote. She puts it right out there.

Melanie (Books for all eternity) said...

a frienf of mine absolutely loves your books, but I haven't had the time to read them yet...
wish you all the best, Melanie

Hope said...

Sorry everyone...I seemed to have stalled out (cold meds kick my butt).

Dee, did you know who your traitor was going to be when you started the series? I changed my mind about who it was so many times, and I still had it wrong!!!

Dee Davis said...

yes, almost from the beginning. I will admit it was going to be someone else in the very original conception, but fairly quickly I realized it needed to be who it was.

Jolene Allcock and Family said...

Wow, the plot sounds amazing. I literally cannot wait to get ahold of this book. Is this the first in the series?

Hot professors, I feel like I missed out. I didn't go to college, but maybe I should take some classes to see some of these hot professors. :) I did have a crush on my softball coach in highschool. He wasn't professor hot, but older man hot. Jeesh, I am way off subject. Back to this amazing book I can't wait to read and a new author. Yipee, love finding new authors

Hope said...

Jolene, yes this is the first in the series... so far there are 3 but another comes out this year then 2 more next year....if you love romantic suspense, this is the series for you!!!

Hope said...

Dee, thank you so much for stopping by today visiting and talking about A-Tac. I am going to have to scoot and get the dinner thing going then head out to karate with the little human. Marie will get in touch with you about the give aways.

Thanks everyone for stopping by, don't forget next week when we talk about The Chief by Monica McCarty!!

SMOOCHES!!!

Dee Davis said...

It was great fun hanging with you guys today! Thanks so much for asking me to be here!

oklanannie said...

Late on the scene but still wanted to stop by and say hi and thank Dee for visiting book club. Enjoyed the A-TAC series immensely. Loved all the characters and especially enjoyed the different setting on the college campus. Looking forward to Dee's next book!

Thanks to Hope for hosting and for the wonderful new recipes to add to the collection!!

Crystal said...

Sorry I'm late to the party! I've been dealing with a sick hubby and now the kids are following suit. **sigh** Oh well, but I am here now.

I sure wish I had some hotties like the A-Tac team as my professors. I think I would have paid a little better attention if I had. This series is HOT! I was grabbed hook line and sinker right off the bat. A wonderful series that I can't get enough of.
I haven't had the chance to read through everyone's comments hopefully when I get everyone to bed I'll have some quiet time to get back here!

Marie Force said...

Hey there,
I entered everyone who commented into the drawing since I know y'all love your signed books and our winners are....

HOPE

and

CRYSTAL

Send me your mailing addresses at marie@marieforce.com and I will pass it along to Dee! Thanks everyone!

Next week: The Chief by Monica McCarty!