Natalie Goodwin is at peace with her life in Boise, Idaho. She is about to open her own flower and gift shop, just in time for Christmas, and her daughter has started her first year of college. Although Natalie is recently divorced, she is not looking for romance.
Natalie's hunky firefighter neighbor seems interested in her after his marriage falls apart and he is single again. Tony Cruz is as kind and compassionate as he is handsome, but Natalie worries about being nine years older than Tony. She is worried, too, about her daughter's boyfriend and that her widowed father is keeping secrets from her. Will the sizzle between Natalie and Tony burst into flames or fizzle due to outside pressures and inner doubts?
It is refreshing to see a mature heroine like Natalie, who has weathered life's storms, but has not been dragged down by them. Ms. Holm shows us love is possible, not just for twenty-somethings, but can be found at any age. This is further evidenced through the secondary character, Fred, Natalie's dad. Fred has been widowed for years, but finds more than his favorite treats at Target.
Ms. Holm did research for Leaving Normal by hanging out with the real life firefighter heroes of Boise. This not only makes Tony Cruz more well-rounded and authentic, but is a fitting tribute to men we often take for granted.
There is plenty of smoldering romance to delight contemporary romance fans. Ms. Holm's has an exceptional talent to bring the love of family and friends into her writing and make it heartwarming and touching without it becoming treacly.
Leaving Normal is sure to delight Stef Ann Holm's fans and garner new ones. I can hardly wait for her next book promised for release in October 2006.