Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Club: Knock Me Off My Feet by Susan Donovan

By: Aly Hackett

About the Book: Autumn Adams never planned to follow in her mother's footsteps as Chicago's answer to Martha Stewart—she can't cook, doesn't clean, and would rather play soccer than discuss the joys of white bathtub grout. Then some lunatic starts sending her threats in the mail and Audie finds herself under the protection of simmering, sexy Detective Stacey Quinn, a man determined to examine her every nook, cranny, and ex-boyfriend in his effort to find the stalker. A disarming combination of macho cop and sweet charmer, Quinn is hard to resist. But with Audie's bad luck at finding and holding on to Mr. Right, she think it's best to keep her distance.

I love Audie and Quinn. More Quinn than Audie but they are both marvelous characters! My love for Quinn stems mostly from his Irish heritage – DUDE! A kilt and the pipes! - but in truth, he is funny, kind, sensitive and of course HOT! LOL! Audie just cracks me up! She is so smart and funny but the fact that she is exactly the opposite of her mother and such a klutz makes me chuckle.

But it isn’t just Audie and Quinn that made this book work for me. The supporting cast definitely enriches the story and adds plenty of flavor. Griffin with all his clothes – and his personality – and Stanny-O with his Frango mints create a well-rounded cast of characters. Add to that the Quinn family and this book hits all the great characterization points for me!

Since there are so many LOL moments in this book for me, I thought I would share a few.

This one made me laugh but also made me realize that Stanny-O and Quinn had a great relationship.

Not once in their four years together had Stanny-O altered his routine. He came in the doors to the District 18 police station, got buzzed through, and immediately reached into his top right desk drawer and pulled out a bright green box of Marshall Field’s Frango Mints. And every morning he shoved the box under Quinn’s nose and offered him one, apparently oblivious to the fact that Quinn had never once taken him up on his offer.

I think this next one made me laugh because it is so me

Audie grinned, then politely pushed past him into the middle of the room. She looked around his house again—charming, organized, clean, and comfortable. Her eyes fell to the gleaming floors.

“Damp mopped with two tea bags per quart of water, Quinn?”

He nodded.


“Yeah, my brothers think I’m a freak.”

“Well, you are!” She laughed at him, suddenly spinning around to examine the spice rack over the stove. “A ha! Alphabetized! I knew it!”

He shrugged.

“The CDs, too?”


But there are also many emotional and very moving scenes.

“How can everyone pretend they’re not sad?” She whirled on him. “Aren’t your hearts broken?”

“Hell, yes, they are.”

She shook her head. “I don’t get it.”

“Audie.” Quinn laid his palm gently against the side of her face. “We’re not pretending anything, but if there’s a choice between laughing and crying, the Quinns pick laughing every time. It’s better for the soul.”

And this one

“Faith is believing in something when there’s no possible way to guarantee it. Like believing that Kiley will get to live a full life. Like believing you and I are together for a reason. Faith is taking a chance, Audie.”

All in all Knock Me Off My Feet had everything I look for in a great read - humor, great characters, a fun and interesting story line and love.

Since Quinn is such a lover of Guinness, I figured Guinness Stew would be a fabulous recipe to share!


2 pounds stewing beef

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

1 1/4 cups Guinness

2 cups largely diced carrots

Sprig of fresh thyme

Chopped parsley, for garnish


Trim the meat of any fat or gristle, and cut into 2-inch cubes. Toss beef with 1 tablespoon of the oil. In a small bowl, season the flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Toss meat with seasoned flour.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Reduce the heat, add the onions, crushed garlic and tomato puree to the skillet, cover, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a casserole and pour half of the Guinness into the skillet. Bring Guinness to a boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices on the pan. Pour over the meat, along with the remaining Guinness. Add the carrots and thyme. Stir and adjust seasonings. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat, or in a 300 degree oven until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours.

And for dessert a nice bundt cake with just a touch of Bailey's :)


1 cup chopped pecans

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake. Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.

To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading Knock Me Off My Feet. Audie and Quinn are one of my comfort reads that I go back to often! Susan is going to be popping in and out all day - as long as we don't have Blogger issues like last week - so feel free to post a question!