Friday, September 30, 2011

Beach Bling: You Can Have Your Beach and Eat It Too!

For those of you that need a little “beach time” but don’t live near one or maybe the weather is not cooperating for an afternoon by the shore, here’s a way to bring the beach to you: whip up some incredibly edible beach of your own!   

These Sand Cups are super tasty and easy to make.  It’s a great family project, too. 

Here’s the recipe:
·                     2 cups milk
·                     1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
·                     1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
·                     1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers, crushed
1.                 In a large bowl, combine milk and pudding mix. Beat with a whisk until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes.
2.                 Fold in whipped topping and half of the crushed cookies.
3.                 Place 1 Tablespoon crushed cookies into a clear plastic tumbler. Fill cups 3/4 full with pudding mixture. Top with remaining crushed cookies. Refrigerate 1 hour.
4.                 Decorate with Gummy Sea Creatures such as:

Gimmi Shells, Gummi Starfish, Gummi Seahorses, Gummi Crabs and Gummi Fish


Gummi Octopi

 And don't forget the colorful Drink Umbrella:

Enjoy your day at the beach!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beach Read: THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, a Nancy Drew Mystery Story, by Carolyn Keene

Original 1930s cover, no dust jacket
While working on a guest blog post this week I had to dig deep to pinpoint the exact moment I realized I wanted nothing more in my life than to become a mystery writer. That defining moment occurred when I was 10 years old and read The Secret of the Old Clock, the first in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, 1959 edition. This motivated me to revisit the source of my inspiration, so I curled up in a cozy chair in a sunny spot and read the classic, only this time it was the original text of the 1930 version.  I felt like a little girl again. 

1930's edition dust jacket
cover art by Russell H. Tandy

Book Title: The Secret of the Old Clock
Author:  Mildred Wirt Benson, writing as Carolyn Keene
Genre:  YA Mystery Adventure 
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  210
Publication date:  1930 (I read a 1991 reprint of the original)
Publisher:  Applewood Books
Favorite Passage:  Long after his daughter had retired, Carson Drew sat by the fire.  At last he, too arose.
          “It wouldn’t surprise me if Nancy has stumbled upon a real mystery,” he told himself, as he snapped out the electric light and turned toward the stairway.  “Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage her to dig into it, but after all it’s in a good cause!” 

Beach Read Rating:  5 (out of 5) Beach Umbrellas

Review: I remember twice in my life when my beliefs were shattered.  First as a child when my friend Barrie told me there was no Santa Claus, and second as an adult I found out there was no Carolyn Keene.  There were actually eight writers of the original 32 stories (and many more for the more than 500 ensuing Nancy Drew books and associated spin offs), This was all the brain child of Edward Stratemeyer who formed a syndicate for the series books for children (including Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift series), wherein he’d develop the plot then send it out to ghostwriters to complete the manuscript.  The ghostwriters were contractually obligated to never reveal themselves as the author.  Fellow Ohioan Mildred Wirt Benson wrote 23 of the original titles, earning her $125 for each book, never to collect a single penny in royalties.   
          And all that adds to the mystery of these mystery books.  But that's another topic for another day. 
          But if you want to take a trip back in time on the heels of an adventurous young girl, you won’t find a better way to spend a delightful afternoon than with your old friend, Nancy Drew, Girl Detective! 

1959 edition

Cover blurb:  In this first of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, Nancy, unaided, seeks to find a missing will. Her search not only tests her keen mind but also leads her into a thrilling adventure.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beach Tale: "Miss Izzy's Obituary" (the inciting incident for THE BLOND LEADING THE BLOND)

<<News clipping from the front page of the  Braddocks Beach Bugle, Braddocks Beach, Ohio, May 31)>>

Town Matriarch Dead at Age 63
          Isabel Genevieve Tinsdale, age 63, was found dead yesterday at the bottom of the stairs of the Braddocks Beach watchtower. Although the autopsy report is not expected to be released for two more days, sources involved in the clean-up efforts indicate that loss of blood will be listed as a contributory cause of death.
          Police have declared Miss Izzy’s tumble down three flights of steep, cement stairs to be an accident, although the reason she was visiting the watchtower at two o’clock in the morning leaves many asking questions. Don’t expect answers from the local authorities, as according to Braddocks Beach Police Chief Albert C. Bennett, “Delving into a citizen’s personal business is beyond the scope of our duty to protect and serve the community. Miss Izzy took that secret to her grave.”
          Our dearly departed Miss Izzy has taken more than secrets; also gone is the magic and mystery that defined our societal leader.  Her gracious spirit was mimicked but never duplicated.  Her boundless energy was admired but never matched.  Her financial generosity was appreciated but never publicly acknowledged.  Regal in conformation and character, she was a true local treasure. 
          Born on the steps of the old Town Hall (now the Tourist Welcome Center), Miss Izzy left her mark on our small lakeside town. As a ten-year-old, she started a
Teddy Bear Drive
for orphans. It became an annual event, which last year distributed over $1,000,000 worth of toys and clothes to impoverished children throughout Ohio. As a teenager, she staged the town’s first sit-in to protest rising school lunch prices. Her actions led to a free milk policy still in effect today. Most recently, she appointed herself Braddocks Beach’s Goodwill Ambassador, making daily rounds of local eateries to spin tales of local lore in the manner of the great Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain). Thanks to Miss Izzy’s efforts, visitors to our town left feeling they were as much a part of Braddocks Beach history as the gingerbread trim that adorns the shops that encircle Town Park.
          Miss Izzy’s direct lineage to the town’s founding father gave her “royal” status among local society, leading to the official title of Town Matriarch. She served with grace, pride and flair. Her fashion choices set the trend for the season. Recipes for her culinary creations (when she shared) were hoarded like gold. Her bestselling book, Etiquette-liness is Next to Godliness, will proffer mannerly guidance to young men and women for generations to come.
          Throughout her life, Miss Izzy received many offers for her hand in marriage. Despite such romantic overtures as sky-written proposals, a newspaper headline declaring undying love and the legendary footprints painted in the street leading from both Tandy Grisholm’s and Miss Izzy’s front doors to the steps of the Braddocks Beach Church of Divine Spiritual Enlightenment, Miss Izzy chose to remain single. The consequences of this decision are that she produced no heirs to the great Tinsdale fortune. Undoubtedly, the reading of her Final Will and Testament will be the most anticipated event of the year.
          Miss Izzy is preceded in death by her parents, Jonathon and Gertrude “Irene” Tinsdale, and her brother, Jack Elliot Tinsdale. The existence of Jack’s daughter, Ellery Elizabeth Tinsdale, born in San Diego, CA was only recently discovered.  However despite Miss Izzy’s funding of exhaustive coast to coast searches, no record of Miss Ellery has been found in over 20 years and she is presumed dead. Thus Isabel’s passing is not only the end of an era, but also the end of the lineage.
          Isabel Tinsdale’s life will be celebrated in true “Miss Izzy style” with a potluck picnic and chamber music concert in Town Park on Saturday afternoon. Donations in lieu of flowers are requested to be made to the Braddocks Beach Historical Society (or as Miss Izzy was fond of calling it, the Hysterical Society), of which she was a founding member.
          I'm sure one and all will join me in saying, "Peace be with you, dear friend."
~Mystic Sayers,
Beat Reporter, Braddocks Beach Bugle

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beach Bling: Beach Wagon

ROAD TRIP!  Time to celebrate the first day of a new season.  No, not FALL, it’s officially BEACH SEASON!    What?  You didn’t know that September is THE BEST TIME to take a quick trip to the shore?  It absolutely is.  Most tourists have returned from whence they came, and locals are busy with their weekend activities like soccer games and apple pickings and GLEE practices.  This translates not only to plenty of sand to play in, but also plenty of space to park.  And in many areas, such as Rhode Island, parking is now $40 less than it was last weekend (meaning it’s free.)  So with the sun still shining and the water temperatures still above so-cold-it-sucks-your-breath-from-your-lungs, it’s a great time to grab the Car Art paint and write BEACH OR BUST in your rear window and point the hood of your car toward the coast.
I’m sure your beach bag is packed and waiting by the door.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve got the basics:  beach towels, beach hats, beach toys, beach reads, beach wine, beach wine stakes, and flip flops. 
But the summer was to short to talk about everything you’ll need, so here’s a quick list of things you’ll also want to grab before you go:  beach chairs, beach umbrellas, beach balls, boogie boards/skim boards/surfboards, water wings, water rafts, sunglasses, sun lotions (plural—with a wide variety of SPFs), potable water (to wash sand off your hands before eating your sandwich), a cooler filled with cold beverages, munchies (enough to share with the seagulls), sandcastle making tools, and, if you’re taking an infant, a pop up sun tent and diapers. 
And one more little thing…actually a very very important order to get all this stuff from Point A (the parking lot) to Point B (the edge of the water), you’ll need a cart or wagon. 
Certainly everyone who was ever a kid has an old Radio Flyer lying around:
But you'll probably want a shiney new one.  And a little advice from someone who has carted a lot of stuff to the beach, those narrow wheels dig into the sand and you end up dragging it to the water's edge.  Fortunately, the Monster Truck people inspired the Radio Flyer people, and the problem has been solved:

But those of you driving a anything smaller than an F350 may have trouble fitting any full-sized wagon into your trunk, so the Super Max Wonder Wheeler Beach Cart Easy Roll Ultra Wide Wheels 2011 Model Upgraded might be more suitable for your needs:
And some really smart guys (probably the ones tired of dragging both a cart AND a table to the beach) developed a cart/table conversion model: 

Of course those of you with kiddies will prefer the covered wagon (at least your kiddies will.  You? Maybe not once you see the $131 Us$ plus shipping price tag):

Or you can hire a yak and a Sherpa to shlep your stuff,

but the cost of importing them from Tibet might make this cost prohibitive.

But when I Goggled "Beach Wagon" the top return was this  (Oh, be still my heart.....)

1925 Ford Beach Wagon

Is that a sweet ride or what? 
Now I know what I want for Christmas!

Here's wishing you a great day at the beach! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beach Read: CARPE BEAD 'EM by Tonya Kappes

It’s not the plot or theme or setting that draws me into a book but the voice.  And this book, written in first person present tense, has got VOICE.  It’s like sitting down with your BFFs, an apple-tini in hand, catching up on what happened in the previous week. There’s no doubt that Hallie Mediate will be your BFF by the end of the book, too.         

Book Title:  Carpe Bead ‘Em
Author:  Tonya Kappes
Genre:    Chick Lit
Setting:  Originates in Chicago but quickly relocates to Cincinnati
Format:  Kindle ebook
Pages:  n/a
Publication date:  2011
Publisher:  Tonya Kappes
Favorite Passage: 
My alarm!  Not the physical alarm, but my internal alarm clock, propels me out of bed.  I lunge for my real clock and shake the life out of it.
     The damn thing.
     I need to invest in a new clock because this happens several times a week.  And Shaken Clock Syndrome has just about done the thing in.  I own up to the fact it could be operator rather than mechanical error.

AND, The Clapper scenes (as in “Clap On, Clap Off”), but I don’t want to spoil it for you so you’ll have to read the book. 

Beach Read Rating:  5 (out of 5) Beach Umbrellas

Review:  With a cute dog, an even cuter guy, crazy relatives, a career in fashion retail (the benefit of which is lots of great clothes), girl’s nights out, and a hobby of beading,  Carpe Bead ‘Em has a little something for everyone.  It’s a fun and funny super fast read.  So fast, in fact, that my thumb cramped from constant pressure on the Page Forward button.  What makes this book a little bit different from the Chick Lit genre in general is there’s a whole lot of beading going on.  Making fashionable necklaces is Hallie’s therapy of choice when life spins a little out of control, and the author, who once owned a bead store, writes these scenes with authority.  I found the creative process fascinating.  So much so that I thought about taking up the hobby myself.  The time spent with Hallie and her gal pals made for a great afternoon escape.  The voices were fresh and witty, and I found myself laughing out loud.  A lot.  The best 99 cents I’ve ever spent.  Carpe Bead ‘Em  was Tonya’s first release, and I’ve already cued up her paranormal chick lit mystery, in my E-TBR stack.      

Cover blurb:  Orphaned at a young age, Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie dreamed of escaping her hometown and never looking back. After putting herself through college, landing her dream job in Chicago, and starting a romance with her handsome running partner Bo Pompillio, life is finally exactly as she wants it.
That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her relationship with Bo on hold.
When she arrives in town, Hallie finds crazy Aunt Grace rummaging through a dumpster looking for the “perfect” welcome home gift for her niece. That’s just the beginning. After that, Aunt Grace stays busy by dying her stolen poodle’s hair pink and leaving the dog on her apartment roof to pee, throwing bricks out the window at passing neighbors, and climbing every flag pole to kiss the ornamental eagle.
Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading. When her talent is discovered by a major department store jewelry buyer, Hallie realizes that what she had in Chicago might not have been her dream life after all.
When faced with the choice of moving back to Chicago and Bo or taking a leap of faith to start her own jewelry company (with Aunt Grace in tow), Hallie has to make a decision. Will she let her past and her future collide, or will she or keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beach Tale: "Thief of Hearts", a short story

One of the best things about being a writer is meeting other writers.  I met Sandra Brown Rarery at my very first Chesapeake Romance Writers Meeting in 2001, and we've been writing friends (and personal friends) ever since.  So it is my great honor to have her guest blog here today.  So, without further ado, let's gone on with...

Thief of Hearts
by Sandra Brown Rarey

Mindy polished several pieces of jewelry and rearranged a turquoise display. Then she slid the glass door shut and keyed the lock. She did this every morning, making the rounds from the silver rings and bracelets through the watches and around to the gold and platinum precious stone items. When she finished the last display case she tucked a stray strand of mousy brown hair behind her ear and stepped into the center of her U-shaped 9 to 5 world. Her home away from home for the past ten years.
At precisely nine o’clock, her employer, Mr. Bolivar unlocked the front door. He was the first half of Bolivar and Bolivar Jewelers. The second half was Mrs. Bolivar. Poochie Bolivar, and she had only been Mrs. Bolivar for three years. Mr. Bolivar had gone through two previous wives since Mindy began working for him. The wives changed, the gold leaf scripted sign on the window remained the same. Part ownership of the store apparently passed from wife to wife. It had finally landed on a woman with a generic pet name, masterpiece nails and ever-changing Rihanna hairdos--a self-centered piece of fluff whom Mr. Bolivar worshipped.
She harrumphed at herself under her breath. Her feelings were simply sour grapes. Poochie might behave like she was a bit dense, but Mindy figured any woman who could use her natural assets to turn a successful man into Jell-O was smarter than she.
Moments later the first customer of the day made an entrance. A man, who entered in a swirl of snowflakes that he dusted from his overcoat.
The man meandered around, pausing in front of the Movado watches, and then the gold nugget rings, which she personally thought were pretentious. Mindy watched every step, every movement he made. She was mesmerized. This was no ordinary man. This was a god. A movie star. The most handsome man she had ever seen. Every few minutes he looked up and caught her gaze, responding with a smile that made catch her breath. She was embarrassed to be staring, but couldn’t turn away.
“Can I show you that ring?” she managed. Her voice was way too squeaky for her comfort.
“It’s nice,” he responded with a half smile that let her know he, too thought it was pretentious. “But I’m not here to shop for myself.” He stepped up to the display case that held her most valuable items, but he studied her instead of them.
Ideas of romance and happily ever after swirled through her brain. The kind of thoughts that she had not had for a decade. This is a man I could love, she thought. How foolish. He’s here to shop for another woman. He must be married. Men don’t come into jewelry shops to browse. It is past Christmas, so he’s here to buy a gift for an anniversary. Or maybe he is looking for an engagement ring.
He pushed his hand through his hair. “Lovely,” he murmured in a voice that was low and intimate.
She felt her face turn hot right up to her hairline. Her hand went to her throat
Only then did he look down at the jewels twinkling against their black velvet bed. His attention didn’t remain on the necklaces and earrings. It returned to her. He asked her about the local area, commented on the weather and held her in conversation until he made her laugh. The smile lines and crinkles at the corner of his eyes gave her a sense of his personality. His charm made her feel young again. He asked her name, then told her his name was Daniel Greene.
“I’ve enjoyed talking to you so much, Mindy, I almost forgot why I came here.” He pointed to a sapphire and diamond pendant. 
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

“That’s a miniature replica of a pendant owned by Wallis Simpson. She was the Duchess of Windsor.” Every time she looked at the pendant on its platinum chain, she wondered about the kind of charms a woman must have to entice a king into abdicating for her. 
“Yes, I’m aware of who she was.”
“Our sapphire is 24.4 carats. The original was over 200 carats. It was designed by Cartier.”
He didn’t blink when she mentioned the $44,700.00 price. “And that ring,” he said. “They look perfect for what I have in mind.”
“The ring is an exact replica of her engagement ring.”
“Could I ask you to put them on? I would like to see how the pendant lays and how it might look on a woman.”
She was never supposed to open the one display case with the double lock without Mr. Bolivar’s presence. But for some reason, she didn’t want this man to know she didn’t have that authority. She opened the top lock, and then the bottom lock with a second key kept in the cash register. She would model the pieces, then replace them in the display. If he truly wanted to purchase them, she would bring Mr. Bolivar in for the transaction. He would never know she broke protocol.
Mindy slipped the glittering ring on her finger. Her extended hand showed a remarkable 20 carat emerald and diamond creation. Its value could buy her a luxurious new car. The ring was showcased on fish-belly white fingers tipped with short, bare nails. Poochie’s last manicure flashed through her thoughts--a series of constellations, made of miniscule pearls set against obsidian skies and a gold quarter moon on her pinkie. The desire to curl her fingers into her palms was almost overwhelming. It dissolved when he touched her hand, turning it slightly until the sunlight through the window sparked off the emerald. His fingers slid away with obvious reluctance. Did she imagine that little squeeze?
Flustered, she draped the necklace around her neck as she watched her reflection in an oval mirror. She fumbled with the clasp. He hooked it for her, his warm touch lifting her hair slightly and brushing her neck. The sapphire nestled in her cleavage, mesmerizing her. It vibrated slightly from her heartbeat. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
“You’re beautiful.” His breath stirred her hair as they studied the necklace together in the mirror. “Your own radiance makes it shine.” His hands caressed her shoulders. When he withdrew, it felt like he took all the heat from her body.
She leaned back against him. But he wasn’t there. He’d stepped away. The friendly look on his face had turned serious and detached. “I’ll take them both. Could you gift wrap them while I get my bank card from my car?”
Mindy felt so cold goose bumps rose on her arms. She rubbed them. He’d been playing with her. Flirting. For what reason? He certainly didn’t try to talk her into a discount. She watched him head for a white Lexus parked in front of the store. What should she do? She couldn’t begin to gift wrap them yet. She had to replace them in the case, lock it and call Mr. Bolivar to complete the sale. She twisted the ring off her finger.
“Were you planning to purchase that in installments?”
The arrogant tone startled her. She dropped the ring onto the glass countertop and turned to face her employer. “No, I . . . I . . . “
Mr. Bolivar picked up the ring. He set it carefully in it‘s satin nest, snapped the lid shut and pressed the gold catch that sealed the ostrich skin box. “I see you unlocked the display.”
“I’m sorry, sir. But, he’s going to buy the ring and the pendant. I was getting ready to call you up front.”
“Who is ‘he’? And where is the pendant?”
Her hand flew to her throat. It was bare. She looked down in horror. The sapphire was gone! She whirled around to face the storefront. The glass window wavered in her vision like lake water on a windy day. The room tilted. The white Lexus had disappeared.
* * *
Four months later, Mindy munched a sandwich as she strolled a pathway bordered with lush, blooming shrubs at a resort in Williamsburg. She had lost her fifth sale this week. Folks simply weren’t buying timeshares with the enthusiasm they once had. At this rate she would soon have to get a second job.
A man stepped in front of her, blocking her way. She gasped. “You!” The crook with the velvet voice. What nerve the scoundrel had to show his face to her. “If it isn’t Mr. Greene, although we both know that isn’t your real name. What can I do for you today? Help you steal a condominium, or a timeshare? Or maybe you have your sights on something smaller, like the landscaping.” She jabbed her finger towards a brilliant red azalea.
“I have my sights on you.”
“I just bet you do. How did you find me?” And what did he want? Her heart thumped so hard she could hear it.
“I have my ways of finding things I want.” He put his finger beneath her chin and tilted her head until their eyes locked. “And people.” His finger slid down to press against the pulse at the base of her throat.
She jerked away and fumbled in her purse for her cell phone. “You’ve made a big mistake, mister. I’m calling the police.”
He relaxed into a casual slouch. “You could. But wouldn’t you rather come with me to Nice?”
“Nice?” she gasped. “France?”
“We could visit Cannes, spend some time in Monte Carlo. I’ll take you around the world, show you things you thought you’d never see.”
That voice . . . It mesmerized her. It made her think of crumpled sheets and hot, hot nights.
“That would make me an accessory to a crime.”
“What crime?”
“You know what crime,” she growled. He wasn’t going to make a fool of her again. “Grand theft. You ripped that necklace off my throat and made a fool of me. You cost me my career. I was interrogated like a common criminal. I had to endure being investigated. I was on the news,” she choked. “Mr. Bolivar is still not convinced I wasn’t in on it. If the insurance hadn’t paid off, I might be in jail, waiting to go on trial.” She angrily punched 911 on her cell.
His response was a smile. “I didn’t steal the sapphire, Sweetheart. You misplaced it.”
“I misplaced it?” she sputtered.
“9-11. What is your emergency?” The tiny voice seemed to come from a great distance.
“Um hum.“ His attention went to the pulse in her throat. “That will look lovely with a black velvet dress.”
Mindy didn’t have to look down. All of a sudden she felt the weight, the warmth, the life of the sapphire necklace.
“One of those little numbers with no straps and hardly any material. I can see you now, hanging on my shoulder at a roulette table in Monaco.” He leaned into her and whispered, “The women will hate you.” He straightened. “The men will be jealous of me. We can be in London this time tomorrow.” He fanned out a couple of plane tickets. “From there it is just a short flight to Nice.”
“9-11. What is your emergency? Hello?“

The End

About the author:  Sandra Rarey writes contemporary and historical romance and paranormal romantic comedy. She writes romance because she loves love. It is the root of human hope and the foundation for almost all of the classic tales ever told. It is the lure that pulls us together and the tie that binds us forever.

Read more about her work at:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beach Bling: Bookmarks

I hope you will excuse me a little BSP (in the writing biz, that’s the acronym for Blatant Self Promotion) but the Bling-i-est Bookmarks to ever hit the streets arrived on my doorstep this week.  They announce the upcoming release of my cozy mystery, The Blond Leading the Blond, on October 10 from Avalon Books.  And so, (if I could have a little drum roll please….) here they are:

Gotta send a SHOUT OUT to Su at Earthly Charms for not only the fantastic design, but also for the quick turnaround!  I had the proofs the same day as the request and the eye-catching and sturdy bookmarks at my house within the week.  Now that is service! 

Now I know you all are wondering how you, too, can own one of these limited edition bookmarks to tuck between the pages of your current read.  All you have to do is send your request, along with the address to where you would like them mailed, via my website contact link:  <<>> And the best part?  They are free! 

There’s no doubt that this is what every good Beach Read will be sporting in 2012, so order yours while supplies last!  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beach Read: A LITTLE BIT OF PASSION by Beate Boeker

If you mix Latin and German, author Beate Boeker’s name literally translates to “Happy Books”.  So it is no coincidence that she writes very happy books, one that had me smiling contentedly the entire way through. 

Book Title: A Little Bit of Passion
Author:  Beate Boeker
Genre:  Contemporary Romance 
Setting: Grand Teton Mountains/Seattle, WA/Long Island NY
Format:  Hardcover from the local library—so a FREE READ! 
Pages: 186
Publication date:  2011
Publisher:  Avalon Books
Favorite Passage:  (while I’m reading a book I plan to review, I pay particular attention to passages I find sigh-worthy, and this one book had one beautifully written passage after another so my marker kept moving along in the book.  I found it impossible to choose just one out of so many, so here are two): 

Favorite Passage One:  For some unfathomable reason, clocks gather speed whenever John is around. 

Favorite Passage Two (in an email message with regards to Karen’s opening up the bookstore she co-owns):    The bell is ringing.  Ha!  Our first tourists are trooping in.  Have to go and sell them new worlds to dream in. 

Beach Read Rating:  5 (out of 5) Beach Umbrellas

Review:  The first thing that is amazing about this book is that the author is German, yet her English voice is so rich it melts in your mouth like a particularly thick slab of fudge.  The second thing that is amazing is that the entire book is nothing more than an exchange of emails.  And not even between the heroine and the hero, but between the heroine and her best friend.  As we all know, there are things you can tell your best friend that you would never reveal (sometimes not even to yourself) to a new boyfriend/potential life mate. But the way the story unfolds you can feel the growing attraction between the H/H, watch the conflict manifest itself, and celebrate the Happily Ever After--and don’t anyone complain that I ruined the ending here…it IS a romance for gawd’s sake! The beauty of this story is the journey of two people finding forever-and-ever-Amen love!   
The descriptions of the Teton Mountains (one of which is called Fred…seriously, who names a mountain Fred?) and the Seattle skyline and the bustling bookstore will leave you feeling as if you are actually there, not curled up as I was in a papasan chair while the rain smacked against the windows.  This is ‘escapism reading” at its best!  According to the cover flap, Beate Boeker has two other books available to be read:  Wings to Fly and Take My Place, so I’m off to my library right now to check them out. 
Karen Larsen calls herself a modern gypsy because she has split her life into two perfect halves. In winter, she's a skiing instructor in the Teton Mountain Range; in summer, she works at the bookstore she owns on Long Island, New York. But one Easter holiday, John Bermett and his son Gerry join her skiing group, and her perfectly balanced universe is shaken. John is the owner and CEO of ON!, the largest electronic equipment company in America. Though there is an intense mutual attraction, Karen feels that dating John would disrupt her free-spirited lifestyle. She works through her internal struggle in e-mail correspondence with her best friend, Leslie Carter, co-owner of the bookstore.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beach Tale: "Deal Breaker" (a romantic short story)

I don’t do kids.  I know I was one myself once.  Technically, that is.  But my mom had always said I had an “old soul.”  I’d preferred sitting with my grandmother and talking with her friends rather than playing Barbies with the pig-tail crowd.  I’d choose a day strolling through antique shops over roller blading every time.  My thirteenth birthday party had been to see An English Patient.  All my friends snuck over to watch 101 Dalmatians showing in the next theater over. 
So if I don’t do kids, why was I chaperoning twenty-six hot, tired, and grumpy fourth graders at the San Diego Zoo?  Because my sister’s interview with a new software development firm had been postponed from yesterday to today, and she’d begged me to fill in for her with her daughter Jocelyn’s class.  It had seemed like a perfect excuse to delay my root canal.
“Miss Nichols, Brandon pinched me,” Kara whined for the seventy-ninth time. 
I should have stuck with the root canal.     
“I’m hungry,” Annarosa whimpered.  “When do we get to eat?”  
“I don’t know.  Ask Mr. Hannigan.” 
But Mr. Hannigan was busy.  On his hands and knees, he was tying Jocelyn’s shoe while serving as a resting place for three weary students and explaining the difference between African and Asian elephants.  “Asian elephants have smaller ears.  An easy way to remember is that when an elephant waves his ears back and forth, it cools his blood and acts like air conditioning for his body.  It’s hotter in Africa, so they need bigger ears.”
I’d been watching him all day and had concluded he was a saint.  He had the patience of Job.  And the looks of Paul Newman.  Well, a forty-years-younger Paul Newman. 
“Who wants to go into the reptile house?”  Mr. Hannigan asked.  It was unanimous among the boys.  The girls split fifty-fifty.  “If you’d rather go with Miss Nichols to watch the meerkats, I hear Shakespeare will be there.”
Six students defected from the reptile line to my meerkat line.  Mr. Hannigan was going to pay for this. 
“Who’s Shakespeare?”  I asked as he pointed on the map to me where we needed to go. 
“Don’t tell me you don’t watch Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet”
“Never heard of it.”
“It’s the Big Brother of the animal world.” 
Mr. Hannigan smiled at me and I didn’t hear any more.  If I weren’t careful, I could fall for a guy like him.  Except he loved kids and I didn’t.  That was a deal breaker in any forever-and-ever-amen relationship.
* * *
At two o’clock we headed for the school bus, taking the long way through Bear Canyon so the see them one more time.   I lagged behind, captivated by the two grizzly cubs playing an innate game of tackle-me tag.
“Cute, huh?”
I turned and found Mr. Hannigan’s face just inches from mine.  Cute didn’t do him justice.  “Oh, you mean the bears,” I said, then giggled like the school girls I’d been hanging around with all day.  “Yeah, can I take them home with me?”
“They’d be fun for a while, until they grew to thousand pounds and decided they wanted to eat you for dinner.”
I giggled again.  “I guess I’ll settle for a cuddly koala bear.”
“You weren’t paying attention today, were you?”
Busted.  During our stop at the Koala Encounter I’d been watching the way his dark hair curled against the collar of his golf shirt, which led me to study the way his shoulders stretched against the confines of the knit fabric, which led to thoughts of being wrapped in those strong, tan arms.
“Koala’s aren’t bears, they’re marsupials.  Maybe I should make you stay after school and write that on the blackboard a hundred times?”  His voice and smile were teasing.  My heart went all gooey, like a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate-chip cookie.            
“In all seriousness, thanks for your help today.  You’re a natural.  Are you a teacher?”
“No way.  It’s a calling, and I have an unlisted number.”
He smiled again.  My insides gooeyed, again.  “What do you do?” he asked. 
“Would you believe rocket scientist?” 
“Why not?”
“You’re too pretty to be a scientist.”
First giggling, now blushing.  What would I do next, swoon?
“You have the aura of an artist,” he said with a smile that reached up to his sea-green eyes. 
“But the brain of a rocket scientist.  Really.” 
Most men run screaming for the hills when they hear what I do for a living.  Not Mr. Hannigan.  Without missing a beat, he booked me for career day in April.
Once all twenty-six kids were seated on the bus, he slipped into the seat next to me.  School buses were made for little people.  When two adults--especially one of Mr. Hannigan’s impressive size--squeezed in together, their arms and legs couldn’t help but touch.  Cozily.  Intimately.
“Can I buy you a drink when we get back?  It’s the least I can do since you didn’t strangle Nicky when he dropped a worm on your head.  I’ve had chaperones bail on me for less than that.”