Sunday, July 26, 2015

Third in the Cadillac, Texas trilogy!

The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop 
by Carolyn Brown
I love this cover!
Piper, Charlotte, and Stella have been best friends...well, forever! They each know the others' deepest and darkest secrets...or do they? Evidently we discover in the beginning of this story about poor Stella and her mother, Nancy's, determination to 'marry her off'! Nancy should have known better than to enlist the help of the Prayer Angels led by Heather when she spoke up:
  "Pray for my daughter. She needs a husband." (1)
Which was then posted verbatim on the sign in the churchyard the very next morning, and set off the 'shit storm' with which both Stella and Nancy must deal over the next few months. As Piper so elegantly put it,
"Hey, Stella, have you seen the billboard in front of the church? I saw it when I took the boys to day care. Who's got a pregnant daughter in town?" (6)
Then Charlotte echoes the same sentiments as she walks in:
"...what does that sign mean? Who's pregnant? Who is getting a baby by Mother's Day? Boone and I've decided to wait two years to get pregnant. Mama says that I shouldn't start a family when I'm past thirty, but if we wait two years then I'll only be twenty-nine when the baby comes. Now, would somebody please tell me whose daughter needs a husband because she's pregnant?" (7)
And, like Piper, Charlotte immediately believes Stella IS pregnant! 
  "Some friends you are. I'll say it one more time--I am not pregnant. I can't believe Mama did this. She's lived here her whole life and she knows how folks talk. This could ruin our business. You know what small-town gossip can do. We don't need a scandal like this." ...
  "The town is barely big enough for two beauty shops as it is, and we've just now got things built up and..." (7) 
And then she bursts into tears. Though Trixie reminds them,
"I understand how you feel, but don't worry about the shop. If we've proven anything up at Clawdy's, it's that gossip is damn good for business." (8) 
(See The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee for proof of that.) The same proved to be very true for Carlene, Alma Grace, and Patrice at Bless My Bloomers, too (The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off)! 

  "I've never seen you cry like this," Charlotte said.

  "Not since that rotten boy ruined your reputation our sophomore year," Piper said.
  "I'd almost forgotten about that son of a bitch," Charlotte said. (8)
Awww...but Stella certainly had not forgotten, not one bit, which explained her reluctance to tell all about her love life! Piper said she should be pissed...and:
"She was pissed--God almighty, but she was pissed--but a tiny little part of her heart understood that her mama only had her best interests at heart. Too bad that little 10 percent couldn't do anything about the pissed-off 90 percent." (9)

Nancy enters the shop and no one says a word...until she asks why everyone's so quiet. She brings out her favorite saying, "Lord love a duck," (13) and admits she had no idea the other Angels would react this way and spread such gossip. When she tries to get the others to trim her hair (Piper whispers to her, "I wouldn't trust her with scissors if I was you." (14)), Piper states aloud,

  "Not on your life. I wouldn't touch anyone's hair who's prayin' for a marriage to take place. I wouldn't wish a damn husband on my worst enemy, and Stella is my friend." (14) 
You see, Piper is still in the throes of bitterness due to her ex-husband's adultery and unwilling to believe any woman could ever be happy married, or that it will last! (I could relate to that belief, since it required years for me to soften up on that hard-core attitude following my own spouse's betrayal and resulting divorce!) However, Charlotte is currently engaged and planning a wedding, so Piper must tamp down her own negativity to support one of her very best friends. And Charlotte politely declines the offer to cut Nancy's hair:
  "No, ma'am. I have to work every day with Stella. If I cut your hair she'll think I'm on your side. I wish Stella could find someone to love her like Boone loves me, but it would be wise if you'd take her name off the list and let her do her own husband hunting." (14)

However, in so many ways, her mother needn't worry... Just because her daughter has chosen not to inform anyone of recent changes in her own personal life, that doesn't mean she needs help, at least not this kind of 'help'! :) Ah...the dangers of exposing your own personal hopes and fears to others, especially in Cadillac, Texas! 

Agnes befriends Stella in her battle against Heather (and Violet): "Us redheads got to stick together." (32) And they do! The shit storm truly heats up when Heather decides this is her 'golden opportunity' to establish a 'marriage ministry' with Stella to be the first woman she successfully marries off, and to raise money she plans a 'barbecue ball' ("glorified barn dance" according to Agnes) with single women on one side and single males on the other, to be paired off for the evening through a random drawing of names. Once Violet becomes her staunch ally in this plan, Agnes makes her own plans! And when Agnes plans...well, let's just say, I would always want her to be on 'my side'! :) Who comes out the winner in this battle of wills? 

Piper finally has the opportunity to directly stand up to her ex-husband after he literally and figuratively infiltrates her personal space and demands his summer visitation with their sons, taking them away with him. I loved how she worked this all out: moving and not giving him her new personal address, insisting they always meet at the shop in the future. And Stella's parents get to spend their time helping Piper and her preparation for their own grandchildren? Well, who knows? 

I admit I initially found it just a wee bit difficult to fully 'suspend my disbelief' with some aspects of this book, though I suppose anything is possible. Cadillac is such a small town and yet twice now (the first time was in The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee) a man has been sneaking into a woman's house to make love to her and no one notices! Ah, well...okay, I'm in, regardless of my first reaction! :) And I admit I found it a bit strange that your two best friends would not only have keys to your house, but would feel free to wonder in and out of it at will. Not me! I want my house to myself unless I specifically invite someone to visit! ;) It worked well for the three of them, well, perhaps not so much at times for Stella and her man... :)

What happens in the end, you might ask? Well, you should read it to find out! It even seems that Piper has softened up a bit regarding males toward the book's end! There are many other surprises, too, and most people appear to be quite happy, well, perhaps not Heather...or Violet...but did they deserve to have their dreams come true? And I'm really anxious to see what the new flower shop owner has to contribute to Cadillac! (Hint to Carolyn's editor!)  However, until then, The Wedding Pearls is due to be released December 15th! Another women's fiction entry for Brown. Perhaps a nice gift suggestion? 

As Charlotte's grandmother always said, 

  When life gives you lemons, make chocolate chip cookies and make the whole world wonder what you've been up to." (81) 
Ah, yes, make 'em wonder...that is my plan! :)


  1. Thank you for the awesome review! I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to Cadillac, Texas!

    1. Only stating my opinion! :) Anxious to read Wedding Pearls now! :)