More Than the Chili's Heating Up Cadillac, Texas
Carlene Lovelle, co-owner of Bless My Bloomers lingerie shop, found a pair of fancy red-silk panties in her husband's briefcase, and all hell is breaking loose. She custom-made those fancy bloomers herself -- and she remembers the bimbo who bought them. If her husband had a lick of sense, he'd known there are no secrets in a town like Cadillac.
Carlene's cohorts -- and their mamas -- plan to exact revenge on Lenny Joe where it'll hurt the most: break his five-year winning streak at the prestigious Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. Never before has a woman dared to compete. But the ladies of Bless My Bloomers are cooking up a storm...and it seems the whole town is taking sides in the showdown.
Welcome to Cadillac, Texas, where the chili is hot, the gossip is hotter, and friends stick by each other, no matter what the challenge.
Originally published as The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off
This was another hilarious trip to Cadillac, Texas, home of the Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. It's a small town with quirky characters, feuds, and an active gossip vine, as well as deep family and friendship ties. It starts out with a band when Carlene found a pair of fancy red panties in her husband's briefcase. They weren't hers, but she knew exactly who they belonged to. I loved her confrontation with Lenny as she told him exactly what she thought of him. That scene set the stage perfectly for the rest of the book as Carlene, her cousins, their mothers, and their friends exact the perfect revenge.
First, we have Carlene and her cousins, Alma Grace and Patrice. Together they own and run Bless My Bloomers, a fancy lingerie shop. Each of them is unique, with their own personalities. Carlene is tall, curvy, and the one with the design ideas. She has some body image issues for herself but uses her talents to make all her customers feel good. Patrice is the straight-shooting, foul-mouthed one who is ready to help Carlene bury the body if that's what she wants. She does the books for the shop and helps with customers when they are busy. Alma Grace is the quieter one, who is active in her church and believes that prayer will fix anything. She's praying that Carlene and Lenny will find their way back together. She's the one who mainly waits on the customers.
It's a riot to see just how fast the news spreads around town. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen next. Carlene just wants to get on with her life, but when Lenny gets petty and nasty, and his momma goes after Carlene too, she's ready to fight back. The best way she can think of is to steal his title as chili king by beating him at the chili cook-off. At this point, Carlene's mother and aunts get into the act. Family sticks together, and Gigi and her sisters (the cousins' mothers, Sugar and Tansy) take over the planning for Red Hot Bloomers team. There are several scenes involving their attempts to come up with the perfect recipe that had me laughing hysterically. Cayenne pepper, outdated meat, side effects in church, and finally a need for a distraction made this a riotous storyline.
This is just the beginning of the feudin' and fussin'. Carlene's marital woes spill over onto Alma Grace. The "holier-than-thou" people on the Easter committee at church push Alma Grace out claiming she's tainted by association with Carlene, not to mention that scandalous panty shop. Lenny's mom Kitty spreads rumors that Alma Grace's daddy was flirting with her, which riles up Sugar. There are confrontations over Easter eggs, angel's wings and halos, and a hilarious scene involving a cat, a psychic bird, and a jeweled leash. Agnes and Violet, from the first book, continue their feud with several more encounters.
It isn't all bad though. Patrice and her boyfriend, Yancy, grow closer as they deal with one crisis after another. Alma Grace meets a sweet and sexy cop who has quite an effect on her. I loved seeing her find a man of her own who was just right for her. Now that she's free, police chief Jack finally lets Carlene know that he's had feelings for her since high school. A growing friendship and Jack's determination not lose out this time shows promise for a much happier future for Carlene. I loved the scenes between these two, as Jack is sensitive to his timing. I also liked the way that he loved her just as she was. There are also some marvelous scenes between the sisters and their husbands. I especially enjoyed the one where the men came to the assistance of their sick wives, so sweet and romantic.
The culmination of it all was the chili cook-off itself. I loved the buildup of the intensity as the contest grew closer. The sisters' attempts to find the right recipe were fun, with some interesting consequences. I especially enjoyed the lead up to the final one. I also loved seeing them take on the previously all-male competitors and the support they got from the other women of the town. I laughed out loud as people would "invest" in the team they wanted to win and how each hoped that their "investment" would pay off. The contest itself had its own drama. I loved the comments of the judges about the Bloomers' chili. There was also a very public confrontation involving Lenny where his actions come back to bite him in the butt, with the impetus coming from an unexpected source. The announcement of the winner was very satisfying. I loved the follow-on party and all the little scenes with the main characters.