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Hot Dish by Connie Brockway
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Hot Dish

by Connie Brockway

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Minnesota Nice becomes Minnesota Boring: Based on her "Dear Readers" page, Ms Brockway clearly hoped to use this book to communicate that the superficial, non-emotional, small-town, Minnesotan culture she has lived in contains real people somewhere under all of that "Minnesota Nice." What she does is spend 95% of the book actually convincing us that the stereotype is not an exaggeration. The people and the culture are described as superficial and unemotional, unless they are being misogynistic, self-pitying, and/or vindictive. The only marginally likable characters are not originally Minnesotan. As the heroine has made it her life's ambition to be the ideal Minnesotan, she is superficial, empty, self-absorbed and not at all likable. The dilemma she faces - should she choose to have a life or just an empty persona- is left almost completely unexplored and is resolved in an epiphany that is not at all believable. Even the "romance" is one of the most shallow, undeveloped, and indeed superficial, non-events I have read. It is difficult to believe that this is the same woman who authored her previous books.

While Ms. Brockway clearly intended her observations to be "wry" descriptions of the stereotypic Minnesotan, they only reach that level of humor on a few occasions. Garrison Keillor really has nothing to worry about. It takes a rare talent to make apparently stoic, superficial, and judgmental Minnesotans funny. I can only hope that her next book is one whose purpose is to bring us into the lives of characters that are conceived with the depth and drama that usually characterize Ms. Brockway's books.

Hot Dish disappoints on every level. Rather than communicate a complex understanding of a culture, or the passionate romance that we have come to expect, this book communicates that its author is still very much an outsider who does not like much of what she sees. Indeed, at two points in the book Ms. Brockway imparts, in italics, her truth that, "It's not a matter of choosing a home as much as accepting where it is." Given the tone of the book, I am left wondering whom Ms. Brockway is trying to convince... Personally, I hope her daughter manages to make her "escape to warmer climes" permanent.
  lonepalm | Dec 8, 2011 |
This book had one of the more misleading covers I’ve seen in quite a while. It looks like a contemporary romance romp with a young beauty queen. It’s not. Both of the protagonists are around 40 years old and they spend most of the book trudging around snowy Minnesota in parkas. And it's not really a romance, either. The plot has lots more to do with blackmail, a sculpted head made out of butter a.k.a “the butter head,” incredibly incompetent thievery, and the heroine’s resentment of her home town than romance.

I’m actually not sure if the book is as entertaining as I recall or if I’m just biased because it kept going in the opposite direction of where I thought it was up to the very last page, and I really liked that. I am certain, though, that the constant use of the phrase “butter head” made me laugh. A lot. Also, having a somewhat goofy and relaxed male lead was really refreshing since the vast majority of romance males tend to be of the “suave dude” archetype. ( )
  f_ing_kangaroo | Apr 29, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045121983X, Mass Market Paperback)

Here she is...

Years ago, Jenn Lind’s family’s dynasty crashed, forcing them to move out of their Atlanta penthouse and into a cabin in Fawn Creek, Minnesota. But Jenn saw a way out—she’d win the Buttercup Pageant, grab the scholarship, and run far, far away. The plan almost worked too, until some conniving townspeople cheated her out of her tiara. Still, she swore she’d make it out someday…

Miss Minnesota?

Twenty years later, she’s on the cusp of real stardom. She’s about to leave for New York to be crowned queen of daytime TV when Fawn Creek asks her to be grand marshal of the town’s sesquicentennial. Her network accepts, delighted over the potential PR, especially since she’ll be sharing the “honor” with international celebrity Steve Jaax, a man she got tangled up with once long ago. Between the all too attractive Steve, the townspeople, and a hundred pound butter sculpture, Jenn may never escape Fawn Creek. Or even worse, she might.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:27 -0400)

Jenn Lind, determined to escape the small, smothering town of Fawn Creek, Minnesota, will stop at nothing to win the local beauty pageant and the accompanying college scholarship, a hilarious undertaking that leads her to a rebel artist who is determined to make a name for himself. Original.… (more)

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