Friday, July 3, 2015

Not just any old Cadillac Jubilee! :)

The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee

I was quite curious about this book as I began reading it for our Borders Book Club meeting in June 2015. I try to never 'research' a book much before reading it because I want my reaction to be as unbiased as possible; my goal is to always open myself to the reading experience with as few preconceived notions as possible. However, I did know that Carolyn Brown had written a ton of romance, so I was a bit hesitant since romance is a genre I typically do not read or enjoy much. I was pleasantly surprised by Brown's enjoyable writing style with that southern humor built in. 
All members really liked this book! It was great fun to discuss all the humorous (and some serious) incidents and comments!! It made for lots of laughter and shaking of heads! 

And how did this Jalapeño Society start? 
  More than forty years ago, Grayson County and Fannin County women were having a heated argument over who could grow the hottest jalapeños in  North Texas. Idalou Thomas, over in Fannin County, had won the contest for her jalapeño cornbread and her jalapeño pepper jelly for so many years that most people dropped plumb out of the running. But that year, Claudia's mamma decided to try a little something different, and she watered her pepper plants with the water she used to rinse out her unmentionables. That was the very year that Fannin County lost their title in all of the jalapeño categories to Grayson County at the Texas State Fair. They brought home a blue ribbon in every category that had anything to do with growing or cooking jalapeño peppers. That was also the year that Violet Prescott and several other women formed the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society. The next fall they held their first annual Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee in Cadillac, Texas. 

...Idalou died right after [that] first Jubilee, and folks in Fannin County almost brought murder charges against Claudia's mamma for breaking poor old Idalou's heart. (9)
Hah! That's probably not far from the truth! Some people take their State Fair competitions very seriously! 

We all pretty much agreed that Agnes was our favorite character. There was no-thing and no-one she wouldn't tackle--literally and figuratively! As Marty mused
  God Almighty, but she'd be glad when her great-aunt died and she could quit the club. but it looked like Agnes was going to last forever, which was no surprise. God sure didn't want her in heaven, and the devil wouldn't have her in hell. (4)
Hah! My kinda woman! :) And there was the time she almost shot Trixie:
  "We heard a gunshot," Jack said.
  "That would be my shotgun. It's up there on the floor. Knocked me right on my ass. I forgot that it had a kick. Loud sumbitch messed up my hearing." Agnes hollered and reached up to tough her kinky red hair. (15) 
Agnes had rushed across the street to 'save' Trixie from the man Agnes saw attacking her in her upstairs bedroom, shot a hole in the upstairs hall ceiling just outside Trixie's room, and immediately had the town cops in Trixie's house. There was no love lost between Agnes and Trixie. Trixie realized it was the candlelight that threw two shadows against her window shades and got Agnes all upset.  
Lord, Agnes Flynn was a meddlesome old witch. Claudia Burton Andrews had taken care of Agnes like she was her mother instead of her aunt, and she'd passed the legacy of looking after her on down to Cathy and Marty. But Trixie damn sure hadn't taken on the job of caring for the nosy old toot, so she could keep her red hair, stinky getup, and shotgun across the street. (19)
Darla Jean helps Trixie debrief,
"You almost got caught, girl! God is talkin' to you pretty strong. He's sayin' that if you don't give up your wickedness, he's goin' to stop talkin' and let Agnes take care of things. You want that?"
  "Hell no! I'd rather face off with the devil as that old girl. But I'm not giving up my Wednesday nights either. I'll just be more careful." (25)
And exactly what is she doing on those nights? 

Then when Violet lies about Agnes's niece, Catherine, right in church no less...
  Damn! Where was that shotgun when Agnes needed it, anyway? Well, a woman worked with what she had and since her shotgun was at home, she doubled up her fist and decked Violet right there in front of the people, the preacher, and even God. ...dead silence reigned. It damn near broke her knuckles, but it was worth every bit of it. (163)
Oh, Agnes, if only I could just once let loose like that with no recriminations or paybacks! :) Haven't we all had times when we would have loved to do just that?!? 

And what would happen if (or perhaps more accurately when) Cadillac discovered the true identity of Candy Parker? Better yet, who would admit to knowing about Candy's books? 
  When her first book sold and her editor asked her if she was going to write under her name or an assumed one, she made the decision to use the pseudonym Candy Parker. She didn't intend for anyone in Cadillac ever to know that she was writing erotic romance. So Candy Parker...was her second secret. The first being keeping...Agnes out of the social club, no matter what the cost. (33) 
And why is it so very important that Agnes not become a member of the 'social club'? Granted, Violet is the president and that would undoubtedly lead to trouble...but...

What about Ethan and Anna Ruth? And where do Andy and Catherine fit into all this? Ah, and several different triangles: Violet, Ethan, and Catherine AND Catherine, Andy, Anna Ruth...and... `So many secrets--so little time! 

  Marty waited until she heard the back door slam and pulled out her phone. "I'll call Jack. You call Cathy. This is too damn good to wait until morning."
  Trixie giggled as she dialed the phone.
  Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society--who gives a shit?
  Friendship--always and forever priceless. (321)

I admit to feeling as if there were perhaps a few too many truly evil/bad characters in this book who appeared to have not one redeeming quality. In my experience, each of us is a mixture of 'good' and 'bad'...but that certainly didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book overall, and I was so curious to see what the second installment in this trilogy, The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off, had in store. Here is what Carolyn Brown had to say in our interview with her!

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