A Star to Steer Her By

A Star to Steer Her By

by Beth Anne Miller

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"The best sexual tension I've read in a long time—combined with the wonderfully fresh plot and memorable characters, I didn't put this book down once!" —Lauren Layne, NYT bestselling author

I'm scarred. Broken.

I'll never be the same.

Ever since my last dive ended in bloodshed, I've been terrified to go back into the water. But I need to get my life back. And I've convinced myself a semester at sea is the only way to do it.

I never expected Tristan MacDougall.

Rugged, strong, and with demons of his own, Tristan helps me find the courage I thought I had lost and heals me with every stolen moment we share…even though the rules of the ship mean we can't be together.

But that's the least of our problems, because my biggest fear has become a reality, and I'm not sure either one of us will survive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633758438
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 03/20/2017
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 250
Sales rank: 276,036
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Beth Anne Miller’s first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. She soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led her to a college semester aboard a schooner. She returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug she couldn’t quite shake.

In addition to horses and the sea, she has a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which she explored with her first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into her new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (forthcoming from Entangled Embrace). A native New Yorker, Beth Anne works in the publishing industry and is always looking ahead to her next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship.

Read an Excerpt

A Star to Steer Her By

By Beth Anne Miller, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2017 Beth Anne Miller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-843-8


The boat loomed before me in the cerulean water of San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico.

No, not a boat — a ship. "Boat" was too small and insignificant a word. "Boat" described Speedy, the little putt-putt dinghy I sat in, along with five other wide-eyed college kids and a blond deckhand named Nick.

The ship completely dwarfed Speedy. Her white hull shined brightly against the blue water. Two towering, polished wooden masts stretched far up into the sky. Canvas sails were neatly furled and bound to horizontal booms.

It was easy to see why ships were always referred to as "she," because this ship looked like an elegant, classy lady. She was a throwback to a time when it took weeks for people to cross the ocean instead of hours in an airplane, when ships were powered by muscle, sweat, and blood instead of powerful engines, when the sun and stars — not a GPS — were used to determine one's location.

That ship would be my home for the next two and a half months, as I sailed throughout the Caribbean and up the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States during the spring semester of my sophomore year of college at the University of Miami. But it was no cruise. In addition to taking classes, we'd be part of the crew, standing watch and learning how to steer, sail, navigate, and everything else that went with operating a tall ship.

The Semester at Sea was a special program offered by an independent organization called Marine Classroom. It was small, nationally accredited, and super competitive, and the course credits were transferable. It would count as a full semester at the University of Miami. The tuition was even covered by my scholarship. Participation in this program would sweeten my resume, which in turn would help me get a great internship and hopefully a job after college. In a highly competitive field like marine biology, I needed any edge I could get.

I'd wanted to be a marine biologist ever since I got my Junior Open Water scuba certification at age ten. I'd been on countless dives and seen so many amazing creatures — no two dives on the same patch of reef were ever the same — and I wanted to make a career of studying those creatures and that world. I'd worked my ass off to get into this program.

Which was what I'd told myself every day in the three months since I'd received my acceptance letter to Semester at Sea, each time I'd opened the email I'd drafted to withdraw myself from the program, stared at it for a long moment, then closed it, unsent. I'd wanted this so badly, for so long. If I quit now, it would ruin everything I'd worked so hard for.

"Hey, you all right?"

I looked up into the friendly brown eyes of the guy sitting next to me, then followed his gaze down to where I'd been unconsciously bouncing my knee. "I'm okay, thanks. Just nervous." Understatement.

"Nervous? Are you kidding? This is going to be awesome!"

His eyes sparkled with enthusiasm, and I couldn't help smiling. I hoped he was right.

Nick guided Speedy alongside the ship, just under a ladder comprised of wooden slats and braided rope. He cut the engine and stood, grabbing the side of the ladder to hold the small boat as steady as possible.

He slid his sunglasses down his nose and grinned. "Okay, ladies and gentlemen, this is the last stop. Please check your immediate seating area for anything you might have brought on board with you. The crew will get your duffels."

Everyone jumped up, eager to board the ship. I staggered slightly as the small boat shifted under my feet, mentally cursing my unsteady legs, and stuck my arms through the straps of my backpack. I slowly climbed up the wobbly ladder, focusing on each step and clutching the ropes tightly as the ship rocked with the movement of the water.

"Need a hand?"

I looked up into eyes the color of the sky in late September: sharp, clear blue. His hair had probably been average brown at one time, but it had been caressed by the sun and had streaks of blond, gold, and copper that people would pay anything for in a salon. The sides were pulled back, and the rest of it fell in tousled waves nearly to his shoulders. Not many men could pull off that look, but this guy definitely could. Sunglasses dangled on a cord around his neck. He was just a little older than me — maybe twenty-one or twenty-two.

He was still holding out his hand. When a hot guy offers you his hand, you take it. I let go of the ladder with my right hand and he helped me up the last step onto the deck. His fingers were long and tanned, with a smattering of scars across the knuckles and the crease of his thumb. The calluses on his palm scratched lightly against my skin. He'd clearly been sailing for years, hauling on lines and getting nicked here and there.

I glanced back up at his face. He grinned slowly, the kind of grin that caused otherwise sensible girls to do stupid things, and said something like, "I need ma hand back noo."

He was Scottish? That just bumped him up to I'm doomed.

Then it clicked what he'd said. I dropped his hand as casually as I could. Making a stellar first impression. "Thanks for the help."

"No worries. Welcome aboard, Red," he said, with a delightful roll of his Rs.

Red. A nickname I'd been stuck with forever, given my long, wavy red hair, which currently hung over my shoulder in a braid as wide as my wrist. But it was a lot less annoying when spoken with a Scottish accent.

He turned back to the rail, and I took the opportunity to check out the rest of him. He was tall and barefoot, and wore faded, frayed cargo shorts. A worn-looking belt around his waist held a tooled leather sheath with a knife handle sticking up from it. Nick had a similar one — it was obviously a deckhand's tool. He wore a navy "Crew" T-shirt like Nick, but his had the sleeves torn off. Obviously.

The muscles in his tanned arms flexed as he swung a huge, floral-patterned duffel bag over the rail and set it on the deck with a thud.

"What the hell is in here, a box o' rocks?"

"I dunno, man," said Nick. He swung his leg over the rail and dropped lightly to the deck. "I'm surprised it didn't sink Speedy."

"Be careful with that!" A pretty girl with unnaturally straight blond hair stretched out her French-manicured hand and snatched the handles of the duffel and the matching oversize — and overstuffed — shoulder bag that sat next to it. She hefted the smaller bag on top of the duffel, popped up the handle, and rolled them away.

Clearly, she hadn't gotten the memo about storage space being limited. I rolled my eyes and turned back toward the hot deckhand, just in time to catch him rolling his eyes as well.

Smiling to myself, I fetched my bag and lugged it over to the middle of the deck. A young woman with a clipboard approached. "What's your last name?" she asked in a Southern accent.


She scanned the clipboard, made a note, and looked up with a smile on her freckled face. "Hi, Ariana, I'm Kristy, the deckhand for B Watch. You're assigned to bunk number seven," she continued, pointing to a nearby hatch with a stairway leading down. "Go ahead and stow your gear, and I'll be there in a minute to explain some things to y'all. I'll hand you your bag when you get to the bottom."

"Thanks. Oh, and just call me Ari," I said as I headed for the stairs.

"Careful on the steps — treat them like a ladder."

Indeed, the stairway really was more like a ladder with wide steps. It was almost vertical, and descending facing forward would most likely result in a tumble. "Thanks for the warning."

I got to the bottom and reached up for my bag. It was stuffy in the cabin, and it smelled musty and damp. I wrinkled my nose and turned around.

I'd known when I applied to the program that I wouldn't have a Titanic-style stateroom, or even a cabin like the ones on a cruise ship. Which was good, since the "cabin" was neither of those things.

It was one long room with recessed bunks along the sides. Number Seven was an upper bunk. There was no ladder — I had to stand on the bench alongside the lower bunk and scoot up. I pulled aside the privacy curtain. There was a reading lamp and a small mirror tacked to the wall, and a storage cubby ran along the back wall and around the foot of the bunk, which was narrower than a twin bed. There was just enough room for me to sit upright between the crossbeams.

Good thing I wasn't claustrophobic.

I heaved up my duffel bag and backpack, catching sight of my reflection in the mirror. I had a halo of short, wispy pieces of hair sprouting around my face, escapees from my braid. My wide greenish-hazel eyes had dark smudges underneath from lack of sleep, and my skin was ghostly pale. Lovely.

Before I could do anything about my hair, Kristy appeared at the bottom of the ladder. "Let me show you guys the head real fast." There were two bathrooms, or heads, one on each side of the ladder. The blonde with the matching luggage and a stunning African-American girl with green eyes and purple streaks in her hair stared into the one on the right with identical expressions of dismay.

What was the problem? I peered over their shoulders. Oh. The room was tiny. There was a small sink and some shelves with supplies. As for the toilet, instead of an attached tank with a handle to flush, there was a flexible pipe with a lever attached to it mounted on the wall. It was similar to the head on the various dive boats I'd been on (and had managed to avoid), but somehow, I'd expected more from a ship we'd be living on for months.

"Hey, ladies, let me get in there."

I stepped aside to let Kristy into the small room. She showed us how to pump water into the toilet before using it and how to pump it out when we were done.

"It's pretty simple, once you get the hang of it." Kristy started for the ladder as we stood there gaping. "'Kay, guys, the captain wants you all on deck. Give your snorkel gear to Nick in the fo'c'sle and then muster at midships."

I grabbed the bag with my mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit out of my duffel and went up on deck. I followed everyone to the bow of the ship, where Nick stood in a miniscule cabin, which was known formally as the forecastle, but shortened to fo'c'sle. He barely fit in the doorway. I handed him the mesh bag.

"You cold?" he asked.

"I'm sorry?" Cold? It was probably eighty-five degrees.

"You shivered when you handed me your gear."

Oh. "Um, no, just someone walked over my grave, I guess. I'm fine." Get a hold of yourself, Goodman. You haven't even been here ten minutes yet. Plenty of time to freak out later.

I rejoined my shipmates at "midships," literally, the area at the middle of the ship. We stood in front of a large locker, above which rested one of the large, neatly furled sails. A tall, lanky man came through the crowd of students and hopped up onto the locker. He was barefoot and wearing khaki shorts like the other crew members, but he had on a white polo shirt instead of a navy T-shirt. His brown hair was liberally streaked with silver, and mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes.

"Welcome to the Megaptera Novaengliae. I'm Captain Brian MacDougall." Another one from Scotland? He glanced around the deck. "Anyone know what Megaptera Novaengliae means?"

I tentatively raised my hand, relieved to see that others had their hands up, too. Good to know I wasn't the only nerd on board.

The captain lowered his sunglasses, his piercing blue eyes meeting mine.

"The lass with the red hair. What's your name?"

"Ari Goodman, Captain."

"Go ahead, Ms. Goodman."

"It's the scientific name for the humpback whale. It means 'Giant-winged New Englander,'" I added, hoping I didn't sound like a know-it-all.

"Brilliant." He smiled at me, and I felt my face flush at his praise. "The ship was built in Maine, so that makes her a New Englander, and when you see her under full sail, the rest of the name will make sense as well. The whole name's a mouthful, though, so we just call her 'the Meg.'

"The Meg is a two-masted, gaff-rigged schooner. Her length overall, including the bowsprit, is about 130 feet, and her length on deck is 95 feet. To give you some sense of scale, that's about the equivalent of three city buses sitting end to end. Her beam, or width, is 25 feet."

"Not very big, is she?"

I looked over at the guy I'd chatted with earlier on the ship's tender. "No, she's definitely a lot smaller than I expected." I'd seen plenty of pictures of the Meg, and watched the promo video on YouTube. The ship had looked huge in those pictures, but it was all relative. When you add in hatches and lockers and barrels, less than a hundred feet by twenty-five feet just isn't that big, especially with roughly twenty-five people on board.

"I wonder how we're going to get through these two months without killing each other," I mused.

"A lot of deodorant and a sense of humor," he said with a grin. "It's Ari, right? I'm Kevin Garcia."

"Nice to meet you," I said, shaking his outstretched hand.

He had messy brown hair, chocolate-colored eyes framed by long lashes, and a mischievous smile. That smile, and the accompanying glint in his eyes, reminded me of my twin brother Josh's smile, so much so that the sight made my heart ache.

I hadn't seen Josh's smile or that glint in his eyes in months. Six months, to be precise. Since his actions had led to six months of pain for me. We used to do everything together, from boating to scuba diving to hanging out on and off campus with our group of friends, but I'd barely spoken to him since then.

Even so, we'd never really been apart — we even went to the same university, even though I hadn't been there in a while — and being so far away from him felt ... wrong. I had this weird, hollow feeling in my stomach that wasn't hunger, wasn't nausea. It was my twin not being there.

I managed a smile for Kevin, then turned away before he wondered what was wrong with me.

While the captain went into further detail about the ship, I scoped out the other students. There were more girls than guys, which surprised me. I thought for sure that more guys would want to be out here, grungy, barefoot, and bare chested, preferring outdoor physical activity to being in a classroom.

"Excuse me." Everyone turned to look at the blonde with the perfect hair. "Where are the showers? I didn't see any below deck."

The captain smiled pleasantly. "What's your name, lass?" "Jenny Bradford."

"Well, Ms. Bradford, you did bring your Lemon Joy, right?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"There aren't any showers on board the Meg, Jenny," I replied. When I'd read that on the message boards last year when I'd applied, I'd had a minor meltdown. But my brother had convinced me that it was all part of the experience. Jury was still out on that.

Jenny gaped at me like I'd spoken Greek. "What do you mean, there aren't any showers?"

"We just don't have the space for them, or the capacity to store that much water," said the captain.

"My father's yacht is like half the size of this boat, and it has a shower. I don't understand why this ship doesn't. Are you saying we have to go for two and a half months with no shower?" Jenny shrieked like a four-year-old running through an icy sprinkler.

From the sudden outburst among my shipmates, it was clear that a few others hadn't done their research, either. The crew seemed to be enjoying themselves — they obviously went through this at the beginning of every semester and never got tired of it. Finally, the captain called for our attention.

"Ms. Bradford, I'm sorry you were misinformed. Of course no one expects you to go for over two months without bathing. There will be a few ports along the way where showers will be available at the docks. But when we're not at those ports, you're going to have to make do with Lemon Joy, which lathers in salt water. Buckets if we're at sea, and if we're anchored, and I give the okay, then you can lather up and jump in." He grinned. "Seriously, this isn't the end of the world. No one has died from bathing in seawater ... at least not in the last two years or so."

His expression sobered. "The purpose of this semester is to give you guys an experience unlike anything you've had before. You will learn about the sea, about sailing, and most of all, you will learn about yourselves. I promise you that when you step onto the dock in New York City in ten weeks, you will be different people than you are now. Okay, I'd like the crew to come up and introduce themselves."


Excerpted from A Star to Steer Her By by Beth Anne Miller, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May. Copyright © 2017 Beth Anne Miller. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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A Star to Steer Her By 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
After a traumatic incident Ari has become afraid of the sea, which is inconvenient because she's been approved for her dream program, a semester at sea. It used to be her ultimate goal to spend ten weeks studying the water and animals, learning to navigate a boat and witnessing the abundance of beauty nature has to offer. Now she's scared instead, but she's determined to make the best of it and maybe she'll be able to conquer her fears and rediscover her love for the sea. Being on a ship comes with strict instructions. Ari has to stick to one rule in particular, she can't fraternize with the crew. That's going to be really difficult because when Ari meets Tristan she knows she likes him a lot more than she's supposed to. Will they be able to keep their relationship purely platonic? Ari recognizes a certain type of grief in Tristan. What has he been through and will they be able to help each other to get through the worst of their sadness? Will Ari's semester at sea be a success or a disaster? Ari is a strong and fierce person. She's willing to go far to reach her goals and I loved that about her. She's also sweet and helpful and she's smart in many different ways. Her impulsive nature sometimes gets her in trouble, but she always follows her heart and I liked that very much about her personality. Tristan is her soul mate, it's clear from the start that they have chemistry, understanding on a deep level and plenty of love. Because they aren't supposed to be together their love has a forbidden element, which made it extra interesting to read about. I immediately liked their easy conversations, their ability to heal each other's deepest psychological wounds and their amazing sparks. What they have is special and their time on the ship makes their connection even more intimate. A Star to Steer Her By is a beautiful love story. I immediately fell in love with the stunning descriptions of the sea, the gorgeous animals and the attractive, but dangerous water. I liked that the story isn't only about finding true love, but also about friendship, challenging yourself and pushing boundaries. Beth Anne Miller clearly knows what she's writing about. I loved how well she describes the unpredictability of the water, the rules and lingo that are being used on a boat, the importance of having a diving partner and much more. It almost felt like I was on the boat together with the students and I actually learned quite a few things while reading a story I thoroughly enjoyed, which is something that put a big smile on my face. Ari has been through something terrible and Beth Anne Miller describes her emotions in an empathic and understandable way. The water isn't without dangers, but Ari is a survivor and I loved that about her. I liked that Beth Anne Miller mixes precious romance with moving scenes, adrenaline rushes and interesting information. A Star to Steer Her By is an incredible impressive story that captivated me from beginning to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasn't predictable kept me on my toes. I cried both happy & sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG I absolutely loved this book. It did start out a bit slow,which most of the time annoys me but with this book it didn't bother me in the slightest. I really enjoyed all the characters in this story. At this moment I am very much wishing I could have done something like this when I was in college,what a great experience to have. This book was adventurous and sweet. I highly recommend this book. *received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Boundlessbookreviews More than 1 year ago
I voluntarily received a copy of A Star to Steer her by off NetGalley.  The premise behind the story intrigued me even though I tend to avoid New Adult.  The story is solid but tends to get bogged down with descriptions of the workings of ship.  Which I understand but having never sailed, even with all the descriptions I just couldn’t get a clear picture in my mind many times of what Miller was trying to convey.   I found myself looking up different terms so I could see the images.  This slowed the reading process.  But then I am one who likes to know what the author is talking about.  I think if you have an appreciation and understanding of seamanship this book would totally work for you.  The loves story is full of angst, lust and puppy love, much like all New Adult books.  The fade to black annoyed me.  This could almost be a YA book if the make out sessions were edited down a bit more.   Not to say the book must have the sex scene but there is so much build up then, fade to black, it confused me a bit.  Why do a heavy make out session with all the buildup then give us a fade to black?  Another bone of contention was watching the sunset over the water when they were in New Jersey.  Unless I have completely lost my mind and all sense of how the world turns the sun sets in the west, so how can you watch the sun set over the ocean in New Jersey when you are sitting on the beach?  Sunrise yes, set no.    The story is about a young woman rediscovering herself and finding love, courage, and her center on the high seas.  It was super sweet, and endearing.  This would be a series I would be interested in reading if Ari and Tristan’s story continues.  I am giving in 3.5 Boundless stars, it was really good
AmyBosica More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I totally wouldn’t mind spending some time at sea!! I’ll be totally honest, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t 100% sure about it. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but the cover looked amazing and the synopsis sounded so good, I just had to pick it up and give it a chance. And let me tell you, I am so glad I did. From the moment I picked up this book, I was pulled into Tristan and Ari’s story. Ari had a love of the sea, but an injury had her questioning everything. However, she was determined to not let her fear rule her. Despite her concerns and fears, she jumps at the opportunity to spend a semester at sea. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and one that she just can’t pass up. She’s hoping that with time, she can conquer her fears and reclaim her life….As a crew member of the Meg, Tristan has his own issues that he’s trying to escape. What he never planned on was Ari. While helping build confidence and heal Ari, Ari was also healing Tristan as well. They were only supposed to be friends, but with each day that passes, their connection would grow even stronger, giving way to a beautiful relationship. However, the road to HEA for these two will not be an easy one. Their relationship is forbidden and anyone finding out could put them both in jeopardy. Will Ari and Tristan find their HEA or will fate keep these two lovers apart? A Star to Steer Her was a really great story. I was captivated from the moment I read it and fell in love with Ari’s story. Ari had so much to overcome, and I loved watching her character grow throughout the story. A Star to Steer Her is a beautiful story about growth, forgiveness and love. I thought this story was well written and I really loved the plot. I thought the characters were a lot of fun and very easy to connect with. I loved the build of Ari and Tristan’s relationship. They were amazing friends and I loved the tension that oozed between the two of them. They are the kind of couple that you can’t help but fall in love with and hope that they get a happy ending. A Star to Steer Her is my first book by this author and it certainly won’t be my last. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
FizzaYounis More than 1 year ago
I loved it! It's about getting over one's fears. After her accident, Ari has been afraid of the sea. She has always wanted to be a marine biologist and she simply cannot give up on her dreams, So she decides to spend one semester at sea any way. May be she won't be able to get over her fear but at least she will have given it her best shot. So for her a trip aboard Meg is not about credit hours, or something to add to her resume, it's more than that. And it is important to her. Tristan has to fight demons of his own but he is always there to help Ari. May be in helping her he is also helping himself. At least they can support each other. And in addition to that have a good time at sea. I enjoyed reading this book. Although I have no interest in sailing, ships, or the sea but the story is written in a way that it doesn't matter. I liked reading about all those things but mostly I liked reading about Ari and Tristan, their lives, hopes, and dreams, it is an interesting tale of letting past go. Which isn't always easy but sometimes it's what is required in order for us to move on to a successful future. I admire both characters and I'd recommend it to all my reader friends.