Literary fiction is another favorite genre of mine, and there is no better example of contemporary literary fiction than Half-Blown Rose, a 2022 release from Leesa Cross-Smith. This elegant second-act romance is the perfect combination of challenging, inspirational, and moving. It brings together elements of classic literature and modern elements such as playlists and text message exchanges to create a modern masterpiece. There’s a reason it ended up on my best of 2022 list. If you’re looking for a character-driven escape to Paris then look no further than Half-Blown Rose!
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Half-Blown Rose: Synopsis
Everything has changed in the blink of an eye for Vincent. Her husband has just released a new semi-autobiographical novel full of secrets, leaving her wondering who she’s been married to all these years. With tempers high and feelings hurt, she knows she needs to get away from him, away from their life together. Paris seems like the perfect escape, but little does she know it will be full of just as many surprises.
Not long after she arrives she secures a temporary position teaching art at a local art school. It’s there she meets the handsome young Loup, and sparks soon fly between the two. While she and Loup are exploring Paris together, her husband, Cillian, is desperate to make things work. But another young man has entered her life, making it hard to see past Cillian’s lies and betrayal. She throws herself head first into her burgeoning life in Paris, a new set of friends, a new lover, and rewarding creative endeavors.
Soon Vincent finds herself torn between what feels like an unbelievable future and an unforgettable past. She and Loup are happy together, but the age gap is sometimes more than she can manage. What will her children say when they find out? Better yet, what will her husband say? And what will Loup say when he learns about the secret Vincent’s been hiding from him?
Half-Blown Rose: Musings
Holy, mother of book gods, this book is SO good! It’s one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read. Months later I still think of Half-Blown Rose, of Vincent and her struggle to start over without losing the past. I literally fell very much in love with this story and the author’s writing style. Prosaic is the best way to describe the author’s writing style, which sets this book apart in my opinion. As beautiful as it was, at first I found Cross-Smith’s writing style a bit jarring, but when I switched to the audiobook this book really sang! It was as if the book was written with audiobook readers in mind. Some books are meant to be audiobooks, and this, my friends, is one of them.
As a 40ish woman, I completely identified with Vincent. The idea of starting over at this age is terrifying in many ways, but it would also be exhilarating. Starting fresh with the knowledge and experience of a 40-year-old woman might be my new favorite book concept. Although Vincent and her situation were completely relatable, she wasn’t always my favorite person. Heck, most of the characters weren’t my favorite people, but they weren’t supposed to be. Real life is complicated. These characters are REAL LIFE. Conflicted, heartbreaking, emotive, invigorating, inspiring, empowering…there are so many adjectives I could use to describe this book and all the feels I felt reading it.
This book is for lovers: lovers of love, lovers of art, lovers of music, lovers of literature, lovers of found family, lovers of French New Wave cinema, and lovers of Paris. The way the author incorporates modern communication and media is the chef’s kiss. I want every single one of the playlists. I want to live in this book, to be part of this world. It’s that dang good, y’all. Read it, please!
Half-Blown Rose: Rating
Romance readers and literary fiction lovers should not miss Half-Blown Rose. It made my list of favorite books of 2022 for a reason. It truly is a masterpiece. Challenging, thought-provoking, and utterly unforgettable, Half-Blown Rose is a literary work that I won’t soon forget. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted copy of this incredible book!
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