Update: The winner for this Giveaway is Yadira A. You will be contacted privately by the author, and thanks to everyone for participating!
What’s better than ice cream? Ice cream and romance! Give a listen to Marilyn Brant, the author of several flirty contemporary romance comedies.
First of all, thanks so much to Rosalie for inviting me to visit today. I’m delighted to be here!
I have loved ice cream for as long as I can remember. Having grown up in America’s Dairyland (yes, “Wisconsin!!”), I had the opportunity to eat LOTS of ice cream as a kid. We lived in close proximity to the UW-Madison, and there’s a well-known place on campus called Babcock Hall where they make really fresh, really creamy and, sometimes, really unusual flavors of ice cream. They have “Berry Alvarez,” which is a combination of berry ice cream with swirls of blueberry, plus raspberry and strawberry bits, and “Union Utopia,” which is vanilla ice cream with swirls of peanut butter, caramel and fudge, and my very favorite, “Orange Custard Chocolate Chip,” which is creamy orange-flavored custard packed with chips.
So, my delight in all things ice cream goes back decades, and when I began writing my romantic comedies, On Any Given Sundae (June 2011) and Double Dipping (out now!), my goal was to share some of that love with readers. On Any Given Sundae is about a shy dessert cookbook writer and the high-school football star — turned successful restaurant owner — that she always had a crush on, and how the two of them end up running an ice cream parlor for the summer. Double Dipping, however, my newest release, delves even deeper into the ice cream world. I actually did some serious research on ice-cream-making for this novel (no joke!), including reading a book on the history of Ben & Jerry’s, since that was the kind of premium, creatively named ice-cream I was looking to replicate in this story.
Double Dipping is a book about a dedicated second-grade teacher who fights the school’s new financial director in order to reinstate a much-beloved autumn festival. But there are secrets, ambition, attraction and meddling family members complicating matters in their little corner of Wisconsin — a town where homemade ice cream is plentiful, thanks to a local chemist called Mr. Koolemar. His brand of ice cream flavors were tremendously fun to create on paper, and there are a couple that I’d love to try to make in my kitchen!
A few of my favorite fictional flavors from the book are: “So-Ho-Ho Supreme,” which is New York cherry melded with wintergreen and peppermint, “Tangy Citrus-Pumpkin Mélange,” which is a blend of cool pineapple, orange, grapefruit and lemon flavors with the warmth of sweet roasted pumpkin and the recipe (a real one!) that starts each chapter, one step at a time, “Chunky Cherry-Chocolate Jubilee,” which has candied cherries, milk chocolate chips and shaved dark chocolate.
Okay, so now it’s your turn. What is your favorite ice cream flavor — or flavors?? Have you ever tasted a really creative combination? I have a prize for one random commenter — a PDF copy of On Any Given Sundae, which was named a “Hot Pick” in self-publishing in the October issue of Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine. (Winner will be announced on Friday, 10/28, as an update to this post.) Looking forward to reading your thoughts!
That’s right, none. So why bother with them?
But that afternoon, as she sweltered in her second-grade classroom and scanned the new financial director’s end-of-August memo, she realized the average American male had just sunk to a new low.
Cait rubbed her eyes. “Jenna, please tell me I didn’t read what I think I did. That this is some rotten joke.”
Her best friend and fellow Ridgewood Grove Elementary teacher, Jenna Murray, crossed the tiles of Cait’s classroom, handed her a pint of premium ice cream and a spoon and said, “I couldn’t believe it either…so I got us these.”
Cait stared at the ice cream, then back at the memo—unable to speak, unsure of what to do next. With the new school year starting tomorrow, she’d been prepared for the typical changes. But, Good Godiva, she’d never imagined anything this disastrous.
She tossed the awful memo onto her desk and, despite the excess calories her “full-figured” (in Jenna’s diplomatic words) body didn’t need, she yanked open the pint of Raspberry Truffle Swirl and plunged her spoon into it. Ah, creamy heaven.
In this tiny southeastern corner of Wisconsin, where the town’s motto was “Sundaes Save Souls” and the local doctors prescribed “two scoops” instead of aspirin, comfort was as close as a grocer’s freezer.
After a few medicinal spoonfuls, she recovered her voice. “How could this Ellis guy cancel the Harvest Hoopla? He hasn’t even been the financial director for a week and already he’s cutting our favorite school festival?” This was her festival, dammit. The one she hosted. The one her students loved best.
Her friend dug into her own sweet pint. “He’s despicable.”
Cait tightened her grip on the spoon. “The children are going to be crushed. The staff up in arms. I’ve already made arrangements with half the vendors and…oh, God, my mother!”
“It’s real crummy, no doubt about it.” Jenna’s voice dropped to a whisper. “But maybe if we talk to him, tell him how important this event is…the community spirit it builds…maybe he’ll reconsider. Sonja said the superintendent hired him after only one meeting, so he’s got to have a brain.”
“But does he have a heart?”
Jenna shrugged. “Who knows? But if he did this, he can undo this. And, if all else fails, we could make an appeal to Ronald.”
Cait thought of the school’s aged principal Ronald Jaspers. Not a bad man, but not an effective administrator either. “Doesn’t the financial director’s authority in these matters go over Ronald’s head?”
Cait sighed and ran her fingers through her hair, certain the blond must be turning to gray after her horrid afternoon. “Well, Budget Man Ellis has to show up by tomorrow. You’d think the guy was a fugitive. Has anyone seen him recently?”
Other than tidbits their secretary Sonja divulged last week, Cait didn’t know much about Garrett Ellis, but she was willing to bet the elusive financial director was hiding out in a cave somewhere with his calculator, crunching numbers and dreaming up new methods to wreak havoc on their fall plans.
Another teacher rushed through the classroom door. “Did you hear? Can you believe it?” the usually calm Marlene said indignantly. “What kind of an idiot would—”
“We know,” Jenna said around a mouthful of Butternut Pecan.
“Well, someone’s gotta put a stop to this.” Marlene shook a wiry fist. “And where is that guy anyway?”
Loni, one of the older teachers, marched in from her classroom across the hall. “You ladies talking about the Harvest Hoopla?” She waved her copy of the memo in the air. “I almost had a coronary when I read this thing.”
Cait reread the memo. “He’s canceling the Hoopla but keeping the Open House Parents’ Coffee. Why?”
“Who’s running the Coffee this year?” Loni asked.
“Mrs. McAllister,” Jenna said, rolling her eyes.
Marlene pretended to gag.
Cait groaned. She couldn’t bear the sight of that school-board-member-slash-socialite Shelley McAllister. Her obnoxious perkiness. Her smoldering red hair. Her evil attempts at sweet talking the administrators during meetings. That had to stop.
“Mrs. McAllister certainly has a way of getting what she wants. We should insist on getting our way, too,” Cait said.
“How?” Marlene asked. “Have you got a plan?”