What a wonderful debut! Norma Ever After by Nancy Baxter is the story of a woman who has always felt left out - always the wallflower, the one who never got picked to play on a team at school. She blames her name, Norma. Her sisters all have wonderful names, and their lives were wonderful. All her life she has felt cheated out of something better, doomed to live a boring existence.
Her first love was Trey Bliss, a boy she had a crush on forever. When she ends up losing her virginity to him after the prom, he ruins things by saying the next morning upon waking, "Oh no... not YOU!".
It becomes a defining moment in her life. She goes on to marry the brother of one of the partners of the firm she works for, a pharmacist, and although the marriage is not bad, neither is she in love with this man. When she finds him in bed with a very beautiful woman (she considers her husband "a dweeb," so this is the final insult to a barely bearable marriage), she leaves him because of the timing. Her father has just had a stroke, so she returns home to take care of him.
It is during this trip back home that she discovers her fate in life. Her name was supposed to have been “Jewel”, her father's choice, but her mother named her Norma. She has always been her father's favorite daughter, he tells her on his deathbed, and before he dies, he instructs her where to find something he put aside especially for her. What she finds is a stuffed puffin that her father gave her when she was four years old - and a lot of money.
To honor her father's memory, she takes her puffin and the money and travels to Scotland where she hopes to find Tammie Nories, the name of the puffin her father told her stories about when in her childhood. Knowing now that these stories were not made up, that her father had in fact traveled there years ago, she plans to leave the toy Puffin among the thousands of puffins that live in Orkney. She doesn't see many puffins, but what she does see changes the course of her life forever. A sad-looking man is painting a portrait of what she later finds out is the burial-ground of an historic figure known to the locals of the island. She is attracted to this man, and he becomes the reason she stays in Scotland - to do what, she doesn't really know.
Norma Ever After is the lighthearted, sometimes serious, story of a woman in search of something in her life. She leaves her homeland behind her and breaks free from the person she has always believed herself to be. She meets new friends and a few new lovers, making a lot of mistakes along the way. I could not predict how this story would end, but I am glad that it ended the way it did - the ending is as good as the journey getting there. Norma Ever After is a delightful story with an equally delightful protagonist. I highly recommend this one!