The-Blue-Ribbon-Jalapeno-Society-Jubilee-CoverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

Cathy and Marty are the owners of Miss Clawdy’s Café, a restaurant set in their mother’s old house. They started the café in honor of their mother and in honor of her award-winning jalapeños that she grew for years in the backyard. However, there is also a club named after their mothers’ jalapeños known as the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society. While they don’t want to be a part of it, Cathy and Marty are in the Society because they are the only ones who know the secret to the award-winning jalapeños and without them, the club wouldn’t matter anymore. Their neighbor, and aunt, Agnes has always wanted to be in the Society, but since she’s never been voted in the next best thing to that is caring for Cathy and Marty.

Cathy is currently engaged to Ethan, who is running for Senate, and is constantly at odds with his mother, Violet, who is also the head of the Society. Cathy would be much happier reading trashy romance novels in the back booth of a bar than she would being married to Ethan and having to look and act just right. When Ethan presents her with a prenup that she must sign, she finally gets up the nerve to tell him off and walk out of his life. Violet, however, is steaming mad and refuses to let it go so she begins to start rumors about Cathy. Agnes, the loving aunt that she is, proceeds to take matters into her own hands and picks a fight with Violet at the Jubilee. Not just a cat-fight, but a knock-down-in-the-dirt fight.

Trixie is the ex-wife of Andy, a local cop, but while he’s been dating another girl, she and Andy still get together on Wednesday evenings for a weekly rendezvous. However, no one knows about this even though a few people suspect what is going on. Trixie, with the help of call-girl-turned-pastor Darla Jean, finally comes to terms with her relationship with Andy and admits that she can do better. Firmly, she breaks things off with him and she finds herself freer than she’s ever felt before.

The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee left me a bit under-whelmed. The plot was a bit confusing at first and it honestly took me until about a 1/3 of the way into the book before I was able to keep the characters straight. There were just too many people to keep track of and too many story lines to follow. There’s more to the story than what I have room to write here, even…just too many sub-plots that while interesting, just weren’t important enough to be included in a summary. It’s sad, really, because Brown could have saved those details for a different book and been able to expound on them greatly. I think the biggest disappointment for me was that we were never told what the secret was for the award-winning jalapeños! At one point, it’s implied that Cathy thinks she has figured out the secret (because the mom apparently went to her death not telling) but then at another point in the book, we’re told that Cathy actually knows what the secret is. It’s pretty confusing when the author doesn’t keep very good track of her own plots!

Brown’s writing does have some redeeming qualities, though. I found myself giggling and laughing throughout the book and at near tears during other parts. I like a book that can draw me in to certain characters’ mind so that I can truly relate to them. I understand that this is Brown’s first attempt at chick-lit and it’s a pretty decent try! I would give her another shot if she were to write another.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.