Rising Tide Press
One Summer Night is a first novel for Gerri Hill and is a promising beginning. Her romantic encounters are powerfully erotic and may prompt many readers to return to this story. However, her characterization is rather flat and the plot is thin. Some women are portrayed rather one dimensionally and Hill, however unintentionally, sometimes falls victim to using some negative stereotyping.
An educated, thirty something college instructor, Johanna Marshall suffers from the loss of her parents as a child -- despite having been raised by loving grandparents who have accepted her lesbianism without strife -- and the betrayal of (in hindsight) a clearly inappropriately matched lover. For the last several years, Jo has climbed into her ivory tower and shut the door.
Dragging herself out to watch friends play in a softball tourney, Jo is drawn to a ringer brought in to boost the team she supports. The former college ball player is the attractive, intelligent Kelly Sambino. The two women are drawn together by an almost overwhelming attraction and end up spending a tremendously charged night together. The next morning Jo awakes to find Kelly, who had a game to play in the morning, gone. Despite their backgrounds in writing and communication the two women prove to be very poor communicators. Almost annoyingly so. Jo, confused and embarrassed by the night's impulsively, does not go to the ball field. Thus adding to the miscommunication particularly since Kelly lives in another town.
After the tournament, some of Jo's friends suggest that Kelly has a reputation as a "Don Juan." Thus Jo returns to hide in her academic tower, though the memory of their passion remains. Fall semester brings a new faculty member to Jo's department and it's Kelly. Still interested in Jo, Kelly tries to court Jo as well as clarify their earlier miscommunication. Jo spends lots of energy trying to keep Kelly at arm's length but calls on her for solace when her grandfather dies suddenly. Kelly is the more likeable of this hit-and-miss couple, although her willingness to put up with Jo's passive-aggressive behavior is rather masochistic.
Perhaps more annoying is the treatment of secondary characters. One of the few short and over weight dykes (most are lean, athletic, and beautiful) is depicted as insensitive, desperate, and mean spirited with her attempts to trash Kelly to Jo in an effort to woo Jo for herself. As some of Hill's writing is quite moving, one hopes that her future novels will explore characterization and plot in a more complex manner.