by Gerri Hill
Self-described city girl Lexie Walton is a million miles from nowhere and completely out of her element.
Park ranger Kyler Clemons had loved the vibe and the beach of Mustang Island. Getting caught with her boss’s wife, however, got her transferred to the wild and remote Davis Mountains State Park—literally in the middle of nowhere. Now after four years, she’s forgotten about the beach and has embraced the mountain life, feeling like a local. She hangs out at the Cottonwood Creek Bar and Grill. She watches football with Mark Walton. She’s taken up birdwatching and stargazing as hobbies. She is perfectly content. No stress. No drama. And no desire to date.
Then Lexie Walton waltzes into her life.
After losing her cushy job in Austin―and unable to find another one―Lexie accepts her parents’ offer to join them and her brother in running a rustic lodge and restaurant in the remote Davis Mountains of West Texas. Hesitant to commit to such a drastic move, she agrees to a trial run―two months. Two months would get her through Christmas and the New Year. Her friends thought she was foolish to make such a move. There was no nightlife, no parties, no spin class, and no green smoothies. And no chance of dating. That was a plus, however. After her breakup with Crazy Cathy, she wanted no part of the dating game. This remote area would do nicely.
But then she meets this cute, tree-hugging park ranger who turns her world completely upside down.
GCLS Goldie Awards
The Stars at Night—Finalist, Contemporary Romance: Long Novels.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"Isn’t it funny how a short conversation with a stranger can lead to a book? Last October, we were camping in the Davis Mountains. It’s a remote area of Texas, a little sliver of “rocky mountains” in the high desert. There was a young couple next to us who had rented a small RV. He had always wanted to go there and to explore the Big Bend area. She had wanted to go to Padre Island to the beach. Quite a contrast! When I asked if she was enjoying it, she first glanced to make sure he couldn’t hear, then said she absolutely hated it and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I told her since she was stuck there, she should try to find something she liked.
Five days later, as we were packing up our site, she came over. She was smiling and looked relaxed, unlike the first encounter I had with her. “Have you seen the stars?” I nodded. “They’re incredible, aren’t they?” She was nearly giddy with enthusiasm. “I bought a star book at the ranger station. We’ve been going up to Skyline Drive at night, finding constellations. We were out until three in the morning. I think I’ve found a new passion.” She laughed then. “I’ve been hiking every day too. My friends would never believe it! It’s like I’m a new person up here.”
It wasn’t until we got back home that I replayed my conversation with her. As is often the case, story ideas come from the strangest places. Before long, The Stars at Night took shape and Lexie and Kyler were soon hiking those same trails. I hope you enjoy it!"
R. Swier - The characters were very likable and dealt with realistic problems such as the sudden loss of a job or a loved one. I liked how Kyler and Lexie had meaningful conversations about many diverse topics. I especially loved how the author allowed her characters to get to know each other and develop a strong friendship while they explored the beautiful mountain setting whether biking, hiking, or driving. I also liked how the author pulled the reader into these scenes with her very vivid descriptive writing. The secondary characters, especially Lexie’s brother, added to the emotional depth of this story. The support he received from his family, and especially Kyler, was heartwarming.
Overall, this was a beautifully written feel-good story. The very descriptive setting, which I loved, will leave you with peaceful thoughts, a sense of tranquility, and a yearning to experience that type of setting in person.
The Stars at Night is a beautiful mountain romance that will transport you to a paradise. It’s a story of self-discovery, family, and rural living. This romance was a budding romance that snuck-up and on two unsuspecting women who found themselves falling in love under the stars and while gazing at birds. It’s a feel-good slow-burn romance that will make your heart melt.
Michele R. - I enjoyed the simplicity of this book and the activities, I felt engaged with all of the characters, and the flirting was playful and spoke the words that neither Lexie or Kyler could at the time.
Jude S. - Besides chemistry, which she writes very convincingly, Gerri Hill always excels at describing nature and everything that there is to love in nature...and it’s once again one of the strongest points of this book.
The Stars at Night is a light and quick read, full of joy and feelings and not a lot of angst. It’s sexy and mellow, romantic and flirty. Exactly what I want to read on a rainy day.
Betty H. - If you are looking for a great book to read as you curl up in front of a fire on a cold wintry night, then look no further than The Stars at Night by Gerri Hill. This is a lovely slow-burn romance about two unlikely people, city girl Lexi Walton and park ranger Kyler Clemons, set in the beautiful Davis Mountains of West Texas.
The characters we meet in the story are all realistic people that we would love to meet and be friends with. Both Lexi and Kyler are easy to connect to. Their chemistry is very strong even though they both fight it to begin with because they don’t believe they are compatible. The romance builds slowly as they both are drawn to each other in spite of that belief.
The setting is what really makes this tale special. Ms. Hill has done an excellent job describing where this story takes place. We can feel the cold wind, hear the rustle of the birds in the bushes by the hiking path, smell the ponderosa pine, and see the brilliance of thousands of stars in the sky. Add two lovely women falling in love in this spectacular setting, and you have an awesome story well worth reading.
The Lesbian Review
Hill is such a strong writer. She’s able to move the plot along through the characters’ dialogue and actions like a true boss. It’s a masterclass in showing, not telling. The story unfolds at a languid pace which mirrors life in a small, mountain town, and her descriptions of the environment bring the world of the book alive.
Kyler stood on her little back porch, leaning her shoulder against the cedar beam. The first birds to arrive at the feeder this morning were the goldfinches. Two lone pine siskens soon followed. She enjoyed watching them for the few months they hung around. By late February, the goldfinches and siskens would be heading back north, not to return again until October.
Her gaze lifted from the feeder to the sky. It was particularly red this morning, and she wished she’d driven up Skyline Drive to catch the sunrise, something she didn’t do nearly enough. A rustling in the junipers brought her attention back to the feeders and a young doe stood staring back at her. She smiled.
“Good morning, Daisy,” she said quietly.
The deer twitched her nose as if making sure it was her, then walked out into the open, finding the corn she’d tossed out earlier. She also threw some out in the evenings. She shouldn’t feed them, she knew. They asked the campers in the state park not to feed the wildlife, yet here she was, disobeying the very signs she’d help put up. Daisy was the only deer who came by each morning. In the evenings, five or six would show up. She supposed if the javelinas found the corn, she’d have to stop. While they weren’t animals that she feared, a javelina with young was as fierce as a momma bear guarding her babies. She’d found that out the hard way.
She smiled, remembering how she’d sprinted through the brush, screaming in panic as the herd of javelinas charged her. She’d literally leapt into the back of her work truck to escape them. Nope. She didn’t want to lure them to her house. Of course, the corn was always gone by morning. For all she knew, they came during the night to eat without her knowing it.
The sun was now up, the red color fading from the sky. She knew she should go inside and get dressed for work. She was simply feeling too peaceful to move, though. When had this contentment with her life taken hold? The second year? The first? Before that? Hard to believe she hated it up here at first. The Davis Mountains—so far from the beaches of Mustang Island—were the last place she thought she’d be. Her own stupidity got her transferred to this remote state park in the first place. Funny how a colossal mistake could turn into the best move of her life.
Yeah. Because she loved it here.
With Daisy crunching on the corn and the birds fighting for space at the feeder, she turned and went inside her little cabin. One of the perks of being in such a remote place was the housing that the state park provided its rangers. The cabins were small and mostly clustered together, but they were surrounded by woodlands—piñons, junipers, and oaks. While at first she missed the sandy beach of her little rental cottage on the Gulf, she wouldn’t trade this for anything now. Yeah, she’d missed the beach. And her friends. She didn’t miss going out and bumping into Britney, though. Britney, with her silky blond hair and radiant smile.
Oh, let’s don’t forget the dark-haired beauty Britney had been dating the last time they’d bumped into each other. Britney had overplayed the whole thing, making Kyler wish she could have thrown up all over their sandal-clad feet.
But that would have been childish. She was over Britney by that time anyway.
She rolled her eyes. Well, she was certainly over her now. However, one broken heart in her lifetime was enough. She didn’t imagine she’d be so free with her heart from now on. Not that this remote area afforded her much opportunity. It didn’t matter though. She loved it here. Whether there was opportunity to date or not wasn’t a consideration.
With one last glance at Daisy, then the birds, she went inside. Her cell rang as she moved into her bedroom and she answered with a smile.
“Good morning, Tammy. Are you already at the office?”
“Kyler, good morning. No, no. Someone called the emergency number. I’m still at the ranch. But you’ve got maintenance this week, right?”
Her smile faded. “Now what?”
“Sorry, sweetie. The men’s bathroom over by the tent area has a problem. A toilet is overflowing.”
She groaned. “Okay. I’ll get right to it.”