Touching Stars

Published by: Mira
ISBN13: 978-0778325611
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Gayle Fortman has built a good life for herself and her three sons in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Divorced from charismatic broadcast journalist Eric Fortman, Gayle has made a success of Daughter of the Stars, a popular bed-and-breakfast inn. She has even maintained a cordial relationship with Eric, covering with the boys for his absences and broken promises. Family was never a priority for her ex-husband, even when they were still married. Luckily Travis Allen, her closest neighbor, has been a loving surrogate father to the boys and her own best friend.

Then, on the eve of oldest son Jared’s graduation, Eric returns, but not for the celebration. He nearly lost his life in Afghanistan. Worse, he has lost his way and his courage, and needs a place to recover. Gayle realizes this might be the last chance for her sons to establish a real bond with their father, and offers him a summer at the inn and a chance to put things right. Gayle and Eric are all too aware that the love and attraction they once shared are still there. Can the pieces of their broken lives be mended, or are they better laid to rest?


“Magically interpreting the emotional resonance of love and loss, betrayal and redemption through luminously drawn characters, Richards' latest installment in her irresistible, quilt-inspired Shenandoah Album series glows with transcendent warmth, wisdom, grace, and compassion.”

“A fine, light family melodrama.”
—Publishers Weekly

“When it comes to illuminating the workings of the human mind and heart, Richards has few peers, and this book really shows off her skills. Guaranteed to touch and amuse, it may cause uncontrollable reminiscing about summers gone by.”
Romantic Times BOOKreviews

“The eye to detail the author has is amazing. The vivid descriptions of the quilts mentioned are downright breathtaking to learn about. Highly recommended.”
—A Romance Review


When Gayle Fortman was introduced in Endless Chain, then later made a quick appearance in Lover’s Knot, I wondered if she was trying to tell me something. First, here was a woman running a successful bed-and-breakfast inn while she raised three teenage boys, all as a single parent. As the mother of three boys and a girl myself, I could imagine the difficulties. There were days while my sons were teenagers when I wondered exactly how much testosterone one house could hold without an explosion.

So what had brought Gayle to this place in her life? Like many particularly competent people, she was much in demand. She was the president of the board of deacons at her church and active in fundraising activities. She managed all this, without a hint of a personal life.

In Lover’s Knot we did learn that Gayle’s ex was a successful broadcast journalist. Why hadn’t that marriage lasted? And what effect had the divorce had on her children? Clearly their father was no longer on the scene. Who was the male role model they needed to help them become men? After all, they were almost ready to fly.

Since the Shenandoah Album novels are set in real time, I imagined the work of a broadcast journalist in today’s social and political climate. Our journalists risk their lives every day to bring us the news. If Gayle’s ex-husband was the dedicated risk taker he appeared to be, then I could easily imagine him traveling to the world’s hot spots. Like Afghanistan.

At the same time I was imagining Eric Fortman’s career and Gayle’s busy life in Toms Brook, Virginia—not one of the world’s hot spots—I read a vague, and most likely imaginary, account of a sighting of a renowned assassin in Shenandoah County, at the end of the War Between the States (known locally as the War of Northern Aggression).

Put all this together? My imagination took flight. I hope you enjoy the result.