Published by Apprentice House on May 2nd, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Humor
Source: Lola's Blog Tours
Buy on Amazon
After the sudden death of her husband, Emilie Russell just wants to feel normal. But being a middle-aged widow doesn't come with a how-to manual. Her well-meaning friend, Viv, believes the cure to all that ails is simple: a new man. So, she sets Emilie up with her handsome and charming new neighbor, widower Colin. There's only one problem with the plan-Colin is gay.
Emilie embarks on a rollicking journey of self-discovery with Colin as her mentor and best friend. From learning to swipe right without cringing while midlife dating in constricting shapeware to cougar moments in Key West, Emilie reenters the dating pool with both humorous and soul-crushing results.
With the encouragement of her friends, including a new furry one, plus a little therapy, Emilie begins forging a new life, one where she exchanges tears for laughter, and one that maybe-just maybe-includes the courage to find love again.
Greetings you guys! Welcome to our stop on the Blog Tour for New Normal by Michelle Paris – a heartfelt story about a young widow who comes to terms with her grief through humor and hope.
Our story opens seven month after the sudden passing of Emilie Russell’s husband. Nope, she is not an elderly lady who now has to spend the rest of her golden years without her life-long partner. Emilie is barely forty and her beloved Rob was only 42 when he died of a heart attack basically in her arms. Lots of trauma to deal with, yes.
After seven months of barely coming up for air, Emilie’s friends feel it’s time for her to start dating again. Emilie knows that life needs to continue without Rob and that she should search for happiness again, but is she quite ready for it? Her friend Viv, introduces her to a potential date and Colin and Emilie hit it of immediately. Just one small snag – Colin is gay. Well, sometimes a gay friend is much better than a potential boyfriend.
Slowly but surely Emilie learns to enjoy life again and when she found an innovative way to have Rob “travel” with her and her friends and to discover all the places they still meant to visit, Emilie’s starts to heal. When a stray puppy literally lands on her doorstep, Emilie learns that love truly comes in many different forms.
We thoroughly enjoyed this novel of loss, grief and the healing power of friends and a shift of focus. The author handled a difficult subject with humor and pathos while telling an enduring story that will stick with us for some time to come.
Two weeks later, Emilie was sitting on the stiff leather sofa of Dr. Alan Jeffries, a grief counselor referred by Colin’s therapist.
“So, what brings you here?” Dr. Jeffries asked.
Emilie shifted uncomfortably. She never imagined she’d turn to therapy. It was hard to maintain the perception, deep-rooted in her stoic Irish blood, that she was keeping it all together. Lord knows many of her family members would benefit from therapy, but denial and wishing things away was a family tradition.
Dr. Jeffries’s office was sparsely decorated—smart, but sparse. Hues of brown seemed to be the theme. The leather chair he sat in was a deep brown color with a high back and overstuffed winged armrests. A chocolate brown colored shag rug separated his chair and the couch where Emilie sat. To the left of Dr. Jeffries was a small Pottery Barn-style end table stained with a dark brown. Too much brown. Why wouldn’t yellow be his color of choice? Yellow was bright and cheerful. Brown was depressing. Maybe the decorating style was deliberate. Emilie knew she was reading too much into the room decor.
She bit her lip and stared at the shag rug, searching for the courage to speak. The sight of Dr. Jeffries’s hairy toes poking through bohemian sandals made her smile. Rob would have thought that was funny. When he was alive, Emilie could tell exactly what he was thinking with a single glance his way.
“Um, well . . .” She cleared her throat and diverted her attention up, being careful not to make eye contact with Dr. Jeffries. His long shaggy hair that curled up at his shoulders, his salt-andpepper goatee, round John Lennon glasses, and dingy white oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled to below his elbows made him appear to be a better candidate for a health food store clerk than a therapist. She fixated on a coffee stain near his shirt pocket—anything to distract her from beginning the conversation.
“We can use this time any way you want,” Dr. Jeffries said in a soothing and calm voice, much like a narrator of a meditation app she had once tried soon after Rob died. He had a yellow legal notepad on his lap and a pen in his right hand.
She saw his diploma, the only thing hanging on the walls, centered perfectly on the wall above his head. Alan Grover Jeffries, PhD. The University of Maryland School of Psychology, 2006. Hmm. We are about the same age, she thought, prolonging the inevitable discussion. Grover instantly made her think of Cookie Monster—her favorite Sesame Street character. “Cookie,” she said in her head in her best Cookie Monster impression. This relieved the tension enough for her to speak and probably betrayed her with a faint smile.
She sighed heavily and clasped her hands together, placing them in her lap. “I want to . . . I want to talk about it.” It was what changed her life forever. It was what was on her mind constantly. It was what made her future uncertain. Clearing her throat, she continued. “Um, well, about five months ago, my husband died. He had a heart attack,” she said, fighting back tears. “It was all so sudden. It happened so fast, but like in slow motion, you know what I mean?”
Dr. Jeffries nodded, clicked his pen, and began to write on his notepad. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”
“I still can’t talk about his death without crying.” She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
About the Author
Michelle Paris is a Maryland writer who believes laughter can heal the heart. Her debut novel,
New Normal is loosely based on her own experience as a young widow. Her personal story of
overcoming grief was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. And her essays
about grief and mid-life dating have appeared in multiple editions of the Chicken Soup for the
Soul inspirational book series as well as in other media outlets. She is a member of the
Romance Writers of America and the Maryland Writer’s Association. Currently, Michelle is
enjoying chapter two of her life with her new husband, Kevin, who keeps her from being a cat
lady but only on a technicality.
A huge thank you to Lola from Lola’s Blog Tours for inviting us on this blog tour!
Lots of Love,