So apparently today is National Chocolate Cake Day. Yes, I know. Who makes this stuff up? And I figure that means a link to a killer chocolate cake recipe is an absolute necessity for this post. However I also have a new trilogy coming out next month and I really wanted to talk about. After giving the matter some thought, however, I found a way to link the two into one semi-coherent post.
First the series.
Gwyn Carmichael, Luke Kelly and Brenda Donovan are three cousins who have just inherited their family’s business—The Wild Geese Inn, located in Atlas Beach, New Jersey—following the death of their maternal grandmother, Moira Gallagher. Atlas Beach is fictitious, but it was fun (and more than a little trippy) to go back to my roots and write books set in my original home state of New Jersey.
Each book in the Games We Play series focuses on one of the cousins as they attempt to manage their love lives and their inheritance—all of which is complicated by a variety of supernatural forces. But I’ll let them tell you about that...
* * * *
[Brenda] eyed the others uncertainly. “So you really want to do this, huh?”
“Hell, yes, I want to do this,” Luke assured her. “I’ve always wanted my own bar, even if it is haunted.”
“Don’t be silly,” Gwyn told him. “The bar’s not haunted.”
“Of course it’s not!” Brenda agreed.
“It’s the hotel that’s haunted,” Gwyn continued. “The bar is infest—”
“Stop that,” Brenda interrupted angrily. “That’s what I started to say before. If you really want to do this, there are conditions. We have to stop with all the hocus-pocus.”
“For example?” Gwyn asked.
“Number one,” Brenda said, “the hotel is not haunted. It’s an old building, Gwyn. I know you love it. But you have to admit it’s not in the best of shape. The walls are too thin, the stairs creak, the pipes make noises, the lights flicker, it’s drafty—that’s all normal. And maybe you think it sounds romantic, but when you tell our guests that the hotel is haunted—”
“Which it is.”
“—you’re just calling attention to the hotel’s deficiencies.”
“What else?” Luke asked, jumping in before the girls got into it. Too much of his childhood had been spent watching the two of them fight and make up.
“Number two. There is no boggart in the bar.”
“Okay, stop,” he said, starting to get annoyed himself. “Now you’re going too far. You don’t know that for a fact.”
Brenda shook her head. “C’mon, Luke. How’s that even make sense? It’s an Irish bar; what would a mischief-making Scottish spirit even be doing there?”
Luke grinned. “Making mischief. Obviously. Besides, it’s people they attach themselves to, I think. They’re family spirits, like the bean sidhe. Who’s to say there’s no Scotch-Irish somewhere in our family mix? There’s some funny stuff goes on in that bar, Bren. I’ve seen it.”
Brenda nodded. “I’m sure there is. Do you know why people go to a bar in the first place?”
“To have a drink?” Gwyn suggested.
“Exactly. And what happens when people have a few too many drinks?”
“We make money?”
“They get clumsy. They trip over their own feet. Sometimes they fall down. They misplace things—their keys, their wallets, their phones.”
“Their clothes?” Gwyn smiled at her cousin. Brenda ignored her.
“They make stupid jokes and play stupid pranks and generally act—”
“Stupidly?” Luke supplied.
“And that’s all there is to it. There’s no supernatural troublemaker behind it. The only spirits in that bar are the ones that come in bottles.”
Gwyn gasped. “There’s a genie there now too?”
This time Brenda glared at her.
Luke sighed. “Is there a number three?”
“Yes.” Brenda pointed toward the restaurant’s dining room. “You know that odd-colored stone floor tile in the entryway?”
Luke and Gwyn exchanged a smile. “You mean the Blarney Stone?” they asked innocently.
Brenda glared. “No, I don’t mean the Blarney Stone,” she repeated mockingly. “For fuck’s sake, guys. The Blarney Stone is right where it’s always been. In Blarney Castle. It’s part of the friggin’ wall. No one chipped it out and shipped it across the ocean.”
“Okay, fine,” Gwyn said. “I’ll give you that one. I always thought that was crazy. What would the Lia Fiál be doing here?”
“The what now?” Luke asked.
“The Lia Fiál,” Gwyn repeated. “The Stone of Destiny? That’s what they used to call it.”
“Oh. Well, then that actually does make sense, doesn’t it?”
“That business about how if you kiss your true love while standing on the stone you’re destined to be together. Destined—get it?”
“Yes, Luke.” Gwyn rolled her eyes. “We get it. It’s still crazy.”
“Number four,” Brenda continued without waiting for the others. “There is no family curse.”
Luke and Gwyn looked at her in pained surprise. “Well, of course there isn’t,” Luke said. “You mean the ‘nothing will prosper the family Walsh in Atlas Beach until the Wild Geese return and are reunited with their loved ones’ nonsense? Yeah, that’s bullshit.”
* * * *
Each story in the series is linked to a specific holiday—which, in turn, corresponds to their release dates. Truth or Dare releases Valentine’s Day (February 14th). Never Have I Ever comes out on Mardi Gras—February 28th this year. And Two Truths and a Lie debuts on March 14th, just in time for St Patrick’s Day.
That St Patrick’s Day release is especially fitting given that much of the action in the trilogy takes place in the inn’s Irish bar and (as you've probably figured out by now) the Donovan-Kelly-Carmichael clan is Irish American.
So what does all of this have to do with chocolate cake, you ask? THIS:
Yes, that’s right. A chocolate Guinness cake with an Irish Whiskey ganache and a Baileys Irish Cream icing. BOOM. Because the only thing better than a chocolate cake is a chocolate cake made with Guinness, whiskey, and Baileys. Am I right?
Wait...no bacon? What’s up with that?
Anyway, this cake is literally the bomb—the Irish Car Bomb, that is. Oh, don’t groan at the pun; you know you were thinking the same thing.