I like books set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else’s business. I wouldn’t want to live in one myself, but I do enjoy reading about them. The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee had all of the necessary requirements of small town living. There’s Viola Prescott, the grand dame of local society, who is determined to have her way no matter what. There’s Agnes, who has been feuding with Viola for as long as anyone can remember. And there’s a festival, though they call it a jubilee in this instance. If you’re familiar with the holiday festival in Steel Magnolias, this is the kind of thing I’m looking for in these books, and Blue-Ribbon delivered.
Twins Marty and Cathy run Miss Clawdy’s Café, named after their mother. Café owner by day, writer of smut by night, no one knows that Marty is the person behind the bestsellers people all over town are reading, including her sister. The poised and elegant Cathy is engaged to Viola Prescott’s son. Viola wants a politician in the family and, in order for that to happen, that politician needs a wife. Viola decided that Cathy was the girl and before she knew it, Cathy was swept up into a romance with Violet's son and engaged.
Marty’s problems are minor in comparison to the others. Trixie is fighting the town council, headed by Viola, on their plans to re-zone Miss Clawdy’s as residential and run the three friends out of business. Cathy is struggling to figure out if she really wants to marry this mama’s boy she’s engaged to. Darla Jean is embarking on a new venture that’s dangerous but satisfies her soul.
After their mother passed, Agnes swore she’d continue to look after the girls. Even though Marty and Cathy are adults, there’s no reason why she can’t still check on them, especially since she lives right across the street from Miss Clawdy’s and their residence. She can’t stand their best friend, Trixie, a woman foolish enough to still be sneaking around with the husband who cheated on her. And she really despises Darla Jean, a former escort turned preacher. But the person she hates the most is Viola Prescott who has done her best to keep Agnes out of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society since it was founded years ago.
The book, overall, was entertaining, but my favorite scenes involved Agnes. At a certain age, people tend to just say what’s on their minds, regardless of how others might react, and Agnes is at that age. She bites her tongue for no one, but she’s rarely intentionally mean. However, any time she and Violet are in the same space, you can believe hilarity is going to ensue.
At 321 pages, it should have been a short read, but parts of the book seemed to drag on. There were a few characters that seemed to serve no purpose. This was especially evident in the case of the girl’s friend, Jack. He serves as Marty’s best friend, he buys Cathy’s dream home and he’s a listening ear for Trixie. I kept thinking, okay, this is the woman he’ll end up with, but nope. He was just a platonic friend, which is fine, but he served no real purpose. Perhaps Brown plans to revisit him and his story in another book. Anyhow, it was a fairly decent read. If you love small town stories, give it a read.
Published: March 2013
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