Community as a grounding point is at the heart of a great deal of women's fiction and romance. One such community is the Shenandoah Valley in Emilie Richards' Shenandoah Album series, a world where there is honor and truth, where human beings though often flawed at least try to give their best. In Touching Stars bed-and-breakfast owner Gayle Fortman takes in a guest she cannot turn away: her long ago ex-husband and the father of her three sons. Gayle has built a strong and satisfying life for herself on the green banks of the picturesque Shenandoah River, raising her three boys and building a business to be proud of, and she even has an amicable and mature post-divorce relationship with her ex. Eric Fortman is a charismatic television journalist who breezes in now and again. But when he's taken hostage in Afghanistan and escapes, he has to heal from his mental and physical wounds, and Gayle wants to give her sons time with him. The trouble is that she has never really divorced the man she thinks of as the love of her life. Quilted with the piecework of a number of surprising and colorful storylines, Touching Stars examines the ways we are who we are and how we make our choices and how rewarding that can be. Barbara Samuel has written more than 30 novels. She blogs regularly about books, food and travel at

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