Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family’s reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It’s been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can’t be that bad… Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again? At least she has a new job-sure it’s cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don’t complain! But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around.
Queen Elizabeth Wake from the beginning seemed like an unlikeable, bitter, lonely woman. She gets fired from another in a long line of jobs and after ten years away from her hometown in Texas, finally decides to go back just to see her sister and nephew. Queenie’s family is the trashy family in town, their mother was the town tramp and they have always been treated as second class citizens.
Merry Carole, Queenie’s sister, didn’t help their cause when she became pregnant at 17 to the town golden boy, but her son, Cal, is worth all the heartache. Merry Carole is now the premier beautician in town and she has to cater to the elegent and mean women who continue to treat her like crap because 1) they have no place else to go and 2) they can.
Cal is Merry Carole’s son, 15, who is about to be named the quarterback of the high school team in his freshman year. Many are saying it’s because Merry Carrol, a tramp like her mama, is sleeping with the newly divorced coach. But Cal is a sweet, hard working kid who doesn’t let the vitriol get to him. His father finally starts to pay attention to him because he can throw a football and he has friends, including his half-brother (though neither kid know that they’re related).
Well, there’s nothing the Wake sisters can do to dig themselves out of their “reputations,” however undeserved. And Queenie coming back after all this time feels like she’s finally admitting to being good for nothing. She’s immediately confronted by all the bad blood between her family and the better class of folks in North Star, Texas, including the love of her life, Everett Coburn. The only thing that Queenie really has, aside from Merry Carole & Cal, is the only thing her mama ever gave her, her ability to cook. She takes a job at a nearby prison, cooking the last meals for convicted murderers, but the macabre job starts to get to her and Queenie isn’t exactly sold on the idea of staying in North Star and facing her past and the shame she feels for being Brandi-Jacques Wake’s daughter.
I loved this book. I guess I really like books set in small towns, with all the drama that comes with it. Despite my initial impression of Queenie, I really started to empathize and like her, especially after we get what she’s been through regarding her mom and Everett (but that doesn’t happen until further along in the book). The other charachers, though, Merry Carole & Cal, are so perfectly rendered, you immediately like them. I have a hard time believing the other women in this town, though…are there still people like this? I suppose there are. They do become more believable as the story comes together. Queenie’s path to redemption and her interactions with her family, the people in town, her friends and the people at the prison are interesting and add a lot to the story of this woman wanting to know if it’s possible to go home again. I recommend this book to fans of chick lit, the characters and situation is believable and engaging, as well as entertaining. I will be reading more by this author.