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I am on vacation today and my friend, author Barbara Bretton is filling in for me. Welcome her with an email (she will reply) and be sure to enter her generous giveaway: five sets of her books Casting Spells and Laced With Magic are waiting for lucky readers.
Thank you so much Barbara.
I can't remember a time when Suzanne's daily DearReader notes weren't part of my life. Can you imagine my surprise when the phone rang one morning and Suzanne Beecher told me that one of my books would be a featured romance title? I remember that call like it was yesterday: we laughed, shared confidences, and became friends. I'm delighted to share one of my Grandma El stories with you while Suzanne takes a well-deserved vacation.
Now my Grandma El wasn't exactly the cozy, afghan-knitting grandma of my childhood imagination. She had an English accent, wore Tigress perfume, danced the rhumba, and one time almost married my mother's father. (Which is a story for another time.)
The summer I was eight, my parents and I shared a bungalow on Cape Cod with Grandma El and her third husband. Oh, what a disaster that trip was. My father and his mother didn't always see eye-to-eye and those two weeks in close proximity didn't bring out the best in either one of them. I can still remember an argument about Damson Plum jam that was probably overheard all the way out in Provincetown!
Grandpa Les was madly in love with my grandmother but he wasn't blind to her faults. One day near the end of the second week he tossed my dad the keys to his car and suggested that maybe we could use a little break from all the family fun. My parents leaped at the chance but I loved the beach that was steps from our front door and begged to stay.
Grandma El always brought two thermoses down to the beach with her. "The red one is iced tea for you," she said. "The blue one is lemonade for the grownups." I'd been wondering about that blue thermos for almost two weeks. Maybe it was time to see what "grownup" lemonade tasted like. I waited until she and Grandpa were talking with some people then I grabbed the blue thermos and drank as much of the tart lemonade as I possibly could. It was the best lemonade ever! No wonder she wanted to keep it for herself.
I was feeling quite giddy as I walked down to the water, climbed into my big black inner tube with my book of the moment (My Friend Flicka) and my faded red sailor's cap. I started reading and soon I was floating out with the tide. Turns out the lemonade was really a quart of Tom Collins cocktails and, coupled with the bright sun, I quickly became the only eight-year-old DUI in Cape Cod history.
Fortunately Grandpa Les had been keeping an eye on me and plucked me from the shallow water before I floated halfway to England. My parents weren't too happy when they heard the story later and my dad demanded to know how Grandma El had let an eight-year-old guzzle down half a thermos of full strength Tom Collins cocktails.
But Grandma El shrugged it off with typical British aplomb. "It was only gin," she said.
For the record, that was my last Tom Collins!
Barbara Bretton is the award-winning, best-selling author of over forty-five books. Her most recent title, Laced with Magic, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and Booklist and was named one of Booklist's Top Ten Romances of 2009. The third book in her Sugar Maple series, Spun By Sorcery, will be released in November. When not writing, she can be found knitting up a storm in central New Jersey.