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.

“Wow.”

“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?”

“Yes.”


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!

Ingredients

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

Directions

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 :)

Ingredients

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

Directions

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!

27 comments:

Aly said...

Good Morning All!

Hope everyone stayed inside in the AC and read this book ;)

I am off to registration for school for my kidlets this morning but wanted to hop on and get us started!

Susan will drop in to visit - as long as Blogger behaves - so if you have questions, go ahead and ask them!

My question to Susan is what is your most favorite and least favorite part of writing a book?

Thanks so much for visiting us today!

Mary G said...

Nice post Aly! I just started reading Susan's books & thoroughly enjoyed He Loves Lucy & The Kept Woman. I plan on reading all of them eventually.

Hi Susan
There are a few of my fave authors that are also journalists: Pamela Clare & Joyce Lamb for example. How did you know you wanted to write fiction?

ShellyE said...

Great write up Aly!! I love Susan's books, and have them all. There are always laugh out loud moments, and her characters all feel like someone you know and love. Can't think of any questions off the top of my head, but will keep checking back for updates!

Ronlyn said...

Fun! Although I think you should add Mr. Hackett's Black & Blue instructional video to the recipes. ;-)
My question for Susan..."Damp mop and two tea bags per quart of water"?? WHERE did you get those tips? LOL

Alison said...

Good Morning Everybody!

I love Susan's books! They are a great mix of laugh out loud moments, great characters and good sex!

One of my favorite scenes was when the guys talked about winterizing their women. It got even better when Quinn winterized Audie and her answer made him spit his beer out! LOL!

Hi Susan - Where do you come up with all the great ideas for your books?

oklanannie said...

Happy Thursday morning everyone!
And welcome to Susan Donovan. Thanks so much for sharing your time and talents with us.

"Knock Me Off My Feet" was the first book by Susan Donovan I read. I loved the witty, sexy, nip-at-your-heartstrings storyline. The character dynamics for Quinn and Autumn were so well-defined and the "opposites attract" feature is always a favorite of mine. Needless to say, after this one, I read another and another and another.

"He Loves Lucy" is one of my all-time favorite contemporary romances and I have reread it many times. I adore the characters (both lead and secondary).

I'm looking forward to Susan's new book "Cheri On Top" to be released on August 30th. Another of my favorite storylines is the "high school crush" gets a second go around!!

Aly said...

Alison - the winterizing made me crack up too! So funny how men think...not surprising but funny! LOL!

Kara C said...

I've enjoyed every Susan Donovan book I've read, so how I missed this one is a mystery. I will remedy that today!

I'll add my voice to those who mentioned He Loves Lucy as a favorite.

Aly, your write up tells me Knock Me Off My Feet will be high on my list as well.

And reading in the AC is a brilliant idea. We are going through a week here of 'highest temps on record'. AND much of the town, including the building I work in, is without power!

Judy F said...

I love Susan's books. Take a Chance on me is a favorite. Thanks for bringing back memories from this one. I remember a certain against the window scene.

Alison said...

Judy, the window seen was great. I also liked the questions in the car before the window scene :)

Tara said...

Hi all! Aly, great write up!

Like Kara I missed this one by Susan Donovan. I'll need to add this to the TBR pile. It will give me one to read before Cheri On Top comes out.

He Loves Lucy and Take a Chance on Me are a couple of my all time favorites! Thanks Susan for stopping by today, and Aly for hosting and adding to my TBR pile.

Have a great day everyone!

Marie Force said...

Great post, Aly! Can't wait to read this one this summer! Sorry to miss the fun today. I was in my DC office.

Susan Donovan said...

Hi everyone,
Please forgive me for not stopping by yesterday. My 83-year-old mother was admitted to the ICU with renal and congestive heart failure in Upstate NY (I live in MD) so things were a little wild and I completely forgot about the blog. We aren't quite sure what her prognosis is yet, so keep her in your thoughts.

I can't tell you how much all your comments mean to me. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my books. I will answer your questions through the day.

Susan

Susan Donovan said...

Q: What is my least favorite and most favorite part of writing a book.

This one is easy to answer. I have two favorite parts of writing a book. The first is the brainstorming phase, when anything and everything is possible and my characters can be and do and say anything they like because they're not fully formed yet. My other favorite part is the first draft, when I am surprised by what comes out of my brain and find myself laughing or crying while I write. Pure joy!

My least favorite part of writing a book is where I am right about now -- three weeks away from a deadline. I turn into an insane woman unfit for polite society. :)

oklanannie said...

Thank you Susan for stopping by to answer our questions and discuss your books even when faced with such a stressful situation. Sending positive thoughts and prayers that your mother's health will stabilize and she'll be feeling much better real soon.

I love your books and can't wait for "Cheri On Top."

ShellyE said...

Thanks for stopping in Susan - will keep your mom in my thoughts for a good prognosis!!

Alison said...

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Susan! I'll keep your mom in my thoughts and pray for a quick recovery for her!

Susan Donovan said...

In case you're wondering ... the "winterizing" thing is from real life. A friend of mine from college (you know who you are, Patrick K.) developed that approach to dating in Chicago in the mid-eighties. I carried that around in the back of my brain for seventeen years.

Tara said...

Thanks for stopping by Susan. I can't wait for your next release.

I'll keep your mom and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Kara C said...

Glad you could stop by,Susan, but so sorry to hear about your mom. Will keep her and your family in my thoughts.

LOL about the deadline madness. I've yet to meet an author who lists that as her favorite part of writing. Except maybe Marie. Isn't that so fun for you, Marie? :-)

I got my hands on a copy of Knock Me Off My Feet yesterday. Can't wait to get started on it. Of course, any book of yours reminds me immediately of He Loves Lucy - one of my very first comfort reads. May have to put that in my TBR stack as well.

Susan Donovan said...

How did I know I wanted to write fiction??? That's an interesting question. I just did. Ever since I was a child I knew I would be an author. I just assumed it was my destiny. That's not to say I didn't have other dreams along the way -- I wanted to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a Broadway star, a stand-up comedienne, an abstract artist, a world traveler, an R&B singer -- but I always knew I'd end up as a novelist. I began to write my first book at the age of 39, and now, eleven years later at the age of 34, I'm still at it. :)

Where did I get the household tips for Homey Helen? Everywhere! I read all kinds of housecleaning books and blogs and websites. And I discovered, as did Audie in KNOCK ME OFF MY FEET, that its all about vinegar and baking soda.

Susan Donovan said...

Where do I get my ideas?

I'll narrow that down and just talk about KNOCK ME OFF MY FEET, because, truly, my ideas come from everywhere and nowhere at all. Some just pop up in my head for no reason and others are a direct result of something I saw or heard or experienced. As a general rule, I eavesdrop all the dang time . . . so keep your voice down if you're sitting next to me at a restaurant. :)

Anyway, for KMOMF, I was reading the morning paper while eating my cereal and ran across the "Hints From Heloise" column and snorted with laughter at her rantings about reusing bread wrappers or some such thing, and I wondered to myself . . . what if this Heloise chick doesn't even do her own dishes? What if she has a team of maids and laundresses and a personal chefs to attend to her every domestic need? What if she secretly HATES writing about this crap and would rather just be oh, I don't know, playing soccer? That's how the idea for the book was born.

Now, the idea for my hero, Stacey Quinn, was an entirely different situation. Quinn has been lurking in my brain for a long, long time. As a reporter, I hung out with a lot of Chicago cops, and, I'll admit, I had some fantasies about a few of them. Quinn was the embodiment of those fantasies. That's probably why you'll never find a Stacey Quinn in real life. (Note: If you do -- CALL ME!!!)

Susan Donovan said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind wishes for my mother. Now the doctors suspect there's a blood clot in her lung so we're waiting to figure out what the next step will be. We're hoping her ailments will be manageable with medication and we can take her home in the next few days.

Mary G said...

Sorry to hear about your mom Susan.
Sending positive thoughts & prayers.

BTW are you funny in real life too?LOL

Susan Donovan said...

@ Mary G . . . I am hilarious in real life. Just ask my teenage children. :)

This is what my daughter said to me recently: "Mom. Just stop. You think you're cool, but I'm here to tell you -- you're not. So just stop trying."

Mary G said...

OMG Marie & I have had this discussion. All of my son's friends think I'm funny & he always says, "Don't encourage her!" LOL. I remind that he is funny because his parents are.
I hear the word 'lame' a lot. If I want to drive him crazy I laugh at my own humor.

kim h said...

i love this book so hot and funny