Friday, July 3, 2015

How hot was this chili? It could kill grass! Seriously... :)

Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown
I honestly cannot remember the last time a book's opening scene had me laughing out loud, but this one surely did! (Okay, perhaps the last Stephanie Plum adventure I read did...) I could so relate to Carlene's anger, humiliation, and embarrassment. To discover that your husband has been cheating on you in this way is the ultimate of ironies, in my opinion! And did she ever make a public spectacle of herself and especially him as a result! Good for her, I say! 
  Some men are just born stupid. Some don't get infected until later in life, but they'll all get a case of it sometime. It's in their DNA and can't be helped. 
  Carlene could testify with her right hand raised to God and the left on the Good Book that her husband, Lenny, had been born with the disease and it had worsened with the years. Proof was held between her thumb and forefinger like a dead rat... (1)
Yup! This is the very beginning of the betrayal that was now Carlene's soon-to-be-former marriage, though, in her opinion, not soon enough! The irony of this scene is overwhelming in so many ways, and you immediately understand the book's cover! 

I was hoping to resonate even better with this second installment than I did the first book in the Cadillac, Texas series, The Blue-Ribbon JalapeƱo Society, and I did! Though I wondered if that might be due in part to the fact that I could better relate to the characters' experiences and feelings depicted in this second installment. There definitely were not as many purely mean and hateful people in this book, and I did appreciate that! Though there are a couple who definitely make life in Cadillac a bunch more exciting! For me, this book contained a really nice mixture of everything! I am anxious to read The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop (Cadillac, Texas #3) due to be released July 14th! Don't forget to read the interview with Ms. Brown! She is a Tex-Okie hoot!

Now, back to our story! :) Carlene's language echoed my own way of thinking and speaking (When I can be unfiltered, that is!):
  She stood up, straightening to her full statuesque height of just a couple of inches under the six-foot mark. Damn that sorry bastard to hell. How could he do this to her?... 
  She gave [the briefcase] looks meant to fry holes through the leather, but it just sat there as cool as Lenny. Damn his black soul to hell for all eternity. She hoped that he was given a place sitting naked on a barbed wire fence and every time he fell off the devil shot him with a cattle prod. (3)
I could definitely resonate with the detailed purgatory she envisioned for Lenny! (Though I don't believe in heaven/hell, it made for an efficacious revenge, did it not?!? lol) I guess most of us feel this way when confronted with unfaithful partners. I just don't understand the point of "marrying" and/or committing to a monogamous relationship if you don't intend to follow through, but that's just me! :)

Her one clear thought after all the inevitable questions:
  She was not living in the same house with a lying, cheating, two-timing son- of a bitch. She was leaving his ass and nothing or no one could convince her to stay another night under the same roof with him. (3)
After loading her van to the point of resembling "an overflowing Salvation Army donation hut," she covered the seven miles to Lenny's car dealership in just under five minutes.
  If it hadn't been for the good brakes on her van, she would have plowed right through the plate-glass windows rammed into that pretty brand-spanking-new red Corvette in the showroom. Some days started off bad and got worse as they went along. (4)
Ain't it the truth! There are those days, though hopefully they decrease over the course of a lifetime! Even if you don't intend to read this book, just do yourself a favor and read pages 1-10! Especially if you've ever had a failed long-term relationship due to a partner's infedility, I can't imagine you won't be enthralled and just HAVE to read the whole thing! I could try to paraphrase what happens, but it's just too damn good for you not to read it yourself! And...we learn that Lenny actually works for his that makes me wonder if he is truly successful at much of anything, other than being a jerk, of course! :)

On this same day, Alma Grace is kicked out of the church choir and they've stolen her halo and her wings; Sugar Magee leaves her husband, Jamie, and moves into one of the upstairs rooms of Bless My Bloomers; and Carlene must convince herself that living with her Aunt Sugar's constant praying is better than cohabiting with her cheatin'-ass husband, Lenny!  She awakens that first morning with Sugar as her housemate:
  A week ago she'd packaged up a cute little bright red outfit and rang up the sale to Bridget who was going to Vegas with her sugar daddy. That little red pair of panties didn't have a tenth of a yard of fabric in them. Hell, they didn't have enough material in them to sag a clothesline and yet they'd turned her world, her family, and the whole town of Cadillac upside down. (81)
Did it ever. Suddenly, the three Fannin sisters, Sugar, Tansy, and Gigi, are plotting and planning to win the Chili Cook-Off and take Lenny Joe's trophy away from him this year. And during the time prior to the Cook-Off they will spend their nights in the bedrooms in the upper level of Bless My Bloomers, the specialty lingerie shop owned and operated by their daughters, Patrice, Alma Grace, and Carlene. Sugar doesn't even cook! But she's fairly certain her father's chili recipe is somewhere in her attic...and anyone can follow a recipe, right?!? :)

However, the first batch of chili 'brewed' by the three mamas proves to be less than 'award winning':
  Patrice...just shrugged...and said, "What is that foul smelling shit out there beside the porch? It's killed the grass for a foot around it and even the fire ants are making a detour around it." (117)
  "Oh, my God. Y'all tried to make chili last night and that's what's out there, isn't it? What in the hell did you put in it?" Patrice asked. 
  "Too much cayenne pepper." (119)
Too much? I reckon so! The recipe called for one tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Sugar added twice that amount, Gigi added 1/4 cup, and then Tansy ended up emptying the whole container into the pot! No wonder it killed grass and even the ants wouldn't touch it! :)

So begins the adventures of the first female team ever to enter the Chili Cook-Off. As Agnes announces,
  "Granny Fannin would be so proud of you girls for what y'all are doin'. This is as big as marchin' on the White House for women's rights. All of us women are proud as hell of y'all. I'm here to tell you that if y'all needed someone for your team, I'd gladly throw my lot in with you, but since you got enough, I'm pledgin' a thousand dollars to the cause for y'all to buy the tent. (98)  
And then she proceeds to encourage everyone to 'buy stock' in whichever team they're supporting to win the Chili Cook-Off!

This is a really BIG deal in Cadillac! And who has the winning recipe that year? Did the first female team actually beat out all those other male teams that had been competing for many years? And...most of all...was Lenny truly punished for his adulterous behaviors? And it was refreshing to see some truly awesome men as long-term committed partners: Yancy and Jamie, for example. Ah, but the best adventure of all was that of Alma Grace! Let's just say that she finally discovered a life of her own, while also 'gettin' the goods' on Lenny! I would highly recommend this series! And only 10 more days to wait for the third (and final?) installment, The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop!

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