The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown
Sourcebooks Landmark
April 2014
Paperback, 320 pgs
ISBN: 1402287038
Source: ARC from the publisher

About the book:
It’s Fried Green Tomatoes meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in Carolyn Brown’s latest women’s fiction novel: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off! With her unique Texas drawl and cast of quirky characters, Brown brings laugh-out-loud humor to a poignant women’s fiction novel, centered around three cousins working through some of life’s toughest situations…

In the small town of Cadillac, Texas, business is booming at Bless My Bloomers, the fancy lingerie shop run by Carlene Lovelle and her cousins, Alma Ray and Emma Grace. But irony strikes when Carlene discovers another woman’s silk bikini underwear in her husband’s briefcase. Carlene recognized them, not because they were hers, but because the hussy had bought them in her shop! Lenny Joe had crossed the line and no one, not even the Good Lord, can help him out of the fix he’d put himself into.
For ten years, Lenny Joe’s team has dominated Cadillac’s Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off.  But with Carlene’s Bless My Bloomers team now in the ring, it’s anyone’s game—and when there’s pride and food involved, things are bound to get messy!
With a cast of eccentric characters inhabiting the small tight knit town, Carolyn Brown’s signature wit is tinged with a Texas twang you won’t forget. At its heart, The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off showcases the poignant side of female friendship… and the unexpected power of a big bowl of award-winning chili.

My thoughts:
This is one of those books that brought me outside my comfort zone. I don't normally read "chick-lit" so I was hesitate to accept this book. However, I decided it was time to branch out and I dove in. I found this book endearing and engaging. I never would have thought a book that chronicles a bunch of southern women (don't forget, I'm NY born and bred) and their trials and tribulations would interest me as much as The Red Hot Chili Cook Off did. I have not read any other of Carolyn Brown's books, so I can't compare, but I can say that the town of Cadillac and those who reside there is incredibly fun. I laughed and (gasp!) even teared up at some of the drama that ensues. Being from NY, it was also neat to be transported to a place that I have never experienced. After reading this book, I feel like I know Cadillac, Texas and totally get Southern living (yea yea, I know that I don't really, but that is just how good Brown did describing the town and the life of these women).
The plot didn't draw me in as much as the characters and the whole idea of the rich southern belles did. I believe it was that aspect of the novel that kept me engaged more than the plot line of the divorcee one-upping her ex. However, the love and romance that was scattered throughout the book is great- not over done and just the right amount of spice. I was pleased with how it enhanced the story and wasn't just there for the hell of it.
This is a very humorous book and I found myself giggling a lot. I was rooting for the girls and cheered on their efforts at their lingerie shoppe and their quest to win the cook off. Brown did a great job of making the reader align with Carlene - we hate Lenny and all that he stands for. The epic rivalries between the girls and families is also an addition to boost our hate for the ugly souls and mold our love for the good. When it comes down to it, this is a story of good versus bad and making your own way. Plugging along when you feel like you can't move another inch. It is inspiring, funny, and full of big bold characters!
About the author:
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than sixty books published. She writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances, as well as women’s fiction. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. For more information, please visit www.CarolynLBrown.com

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Image, book synopsis, and author information provided by the publisher

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