Cover Image: Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose

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Member Reviews

Read this while on my own Europe trip and loved mirroring the travel of the protagonist with my own travel through the cities.
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QUICK TAKE: really enjoyed this steamy romantic drama. Think HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK meets EMILY IN PARIS, with a great romance at the center. Also loved the playlists and definitely listened to them while reading.
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After loving Whiskey & Ribbons and This Close to Okay, I was certain I was going to fall in love with Half-Blown Rose. Alas, I quickly found this one was just not going to work for me. 

While Leesa Cross-Smith has some of the most beautiful writing I've come across, I just couldn't get behind a relationship with someone young enough to be your child. Even if the genders were reversed, it would still make me personally feel icky. 

From what I had read, I just knew I wouldn't be happy with finishing this one and ultimately decided to DNF. 

I do look forward to reading more from Leesa in the future despite this minor setback.
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I have some mixed feelings on this one. 

First of all, the writing is gorgeous! Leesa Cross-Smith does not disappoint with her writing. I loved the mix of the current story, and the book Cillian wrote. I loved the playlists and journal entries. Different forms of media really make the book come alive. 

My issue was Vincent and her choices. This story is COMPLICATED. The right choices are not clear cut, I understand that but I felt like Vincent was mad at her husband and that gave her the excuse to do as she pleased and disregard other people's feelings. Cillian really messed up,and let me tell you, I would probably not forgive him either but the lack of communication was frustrating to me. 

This would be a fantastic book club book. There is so much to delve into and discuss. 

AND THAT ENDING!!!
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I absolutely love Leesa Cross-Smith -- this novel was such an indulgent, delightful gem. I absolutely loved reading about  Vincent, a middle-aged Black woman who gets to lounge about Paris, having a beautiful  time and a  torrid affair with  a hottie half  her age. What a dream! Cross-Smith has so much fun in this novel, moving across genres and forms with aplomb and allowing her characters  to experience all sorts of pleasure.
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I received a reviewer copy of Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith from the publisher Grand Central Publishing from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: Vincent is forty-four and teaching at the modern art museum and has an exciting group of friends including the charismatic and sexy man Loup. But Vincent is also in Paris to escape from a major betrayal; her husband and father of their children, Cillian, has published a bestselling book divulging family secrets including a major one that was kept from her as well. Vincent has agreed to reunite with her husband at her son's wedding in a year, but wants to spend a year figuring out how she feels while also pursuing a passionate affair with Loup. 

What I Loved: The writing is really excellent. I am very impressed with Leesa Cross-Smith's ability to win me over to a story I felt was not relatable (rich people in the art scene). I thought this story was just so introspective and also a powerful story about a woman who has raised children reassessing her life after being abruptly blindsided while also maintaining her personal values and amazingly not taking her anger and betrayal out at others. Also, this book is delightfully sexy and the conflict is totally believable and leaves you conflicting. 

What I didn’t like so much: There are some other aspects of the books, like scenes from Cillian's book, playlists, and letters, that seem to distract from the plot rather than add to it (the letters work at times). At times these little things got me confused (I listened on audio) so take that 

Who Should Read It: People who love introspective stories. People who love stories about women rediscovering themselves in their 40s. People who love complex marriage stories. 

Summary: A story of a woman trying to connect with herself and find the solution to a major wrench in her marriage.
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Half-Blown Rose is a sensory delight.  The plot aside, the novel is porn for middle-aged women (like myself) who salivate at the idea of living in a gorgeous apartment alone and rent-free in Paris while making jewelry and teaching a class at the museum of modern art that seems to consist of picking a color each week and asking the students to create art in response.  But that is not all, and the book surrounds the relationship that the main character Vincent Wilde has with her estranged husband Cillian, who elects to reveal a secret in his novel without telling Vincent first, and the primarily sexual relationship she develops with one of her 25-year-old students named Loup.  
The last part of the book is entitled “A Woman Called Vincent,” in which the focus is on the decisions Vincent makes for herself, and many readers will likely find her process questionable at best. 

I particularly liked the fact that both the author and Vincent are Black, and it was refreshing to see Black characters positively portrayed as creative, college-educated and from higher socio-economic classes.  The book also has excellent Playlists, which is unique as well, 4.0 out of 5,0 stars.  Highly recommended for Francophiles in particular!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a complimentary advanced reader’s copy of this book
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“He gathered a half-blown rose, the first on the bush, and offered it to me.” – Charlotte Brontë

In Half-Blown Rose, we meet Vincent, a middle-aged woman who is in Paris after a humiliating secret is revealed in a book written by her husband. She has left behind her husband of 25 years, Cillian, and her two adult children to take a break, catch her breath and regroup in Paris. 

Vincent teaches a class at a museum in Paris, where she meets as young and charismatic man by the name of Loup. There is something about Loup that Vincent just cannot shake. Vincent is a lover of art and she also makes jewelry. Loup is in a band and he initially connects with Vincent on an artistic level. Vincent quickly finds Loup irresistible ad their lives become entangled. 

During her time in Paris, Vincent makes room for new family and relationships while also contemplating the future of her marriage with Cillian. As their son Cohm’s wedding approaches and Vincent prepares to return to the states to face Cillian after almost a year of estrangement, she is at a crossroads. There is the old Vincent with the long-term marriage to Cillian and the life she thought she had, and there is the newly formed “Paris Vincent” who has imagined new possibilities and adventures for herself. Vincent has to choose how she will move forward in her life. Does she want to return to Cillian and reconcile their marriage or does she stay in Paris and embrace the life she has begun there with Loup? 

The book is colorful and captivates the reader with vivid images of art and music There are references to history eloquently woven throughout the story. Half-Blown Rose reminds us that relationships can be complicated, and life is sometimes messy but you can still find beauty and joy amidst the chaos and messiness.
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Vincent is a forty-four year old daughter of two artists. She's living in Paris, teaching at an art museum, having fun with her group of eclectic friends, and has her eye on one of her young students named Loup. What her Parisian friends don't know is that she's in Paris because her husband Cillian, a best-selling author, published a book behind her back with secrets about their marriage and a child he may have had as a teenager while he was still living in Dublin.

Vincent, now separated from her husband, has agreed to meet him at their son's wedding the following summer. However, Loup brings a new set of problems into Vincent's life as she begins a whirlwind affair  with him. The more time Vincent finds herself spending with Loup, the more she starts to find herself and begins wonder what she really wants. 

Half-Blown Rose was a novel where the story wasn't just written through prose, but also through emails, texts, playlists, and journal entries. My favorite part of this novel was the setting. Leesa Cross-Smith did an amazing job immersing the readers in all things Paris. I truly felt like I was in Paris with Vincent as I was reading the story. I did not like the main character Vincent very much. I understand she felt betrayed by her husband, but she continued to play the victim. Her character never made any growth throughout the book. Vincent was also busy judging her husband for the same thing she was doing behind his back. Can we say double standards? Finally, let's talk about the ending of the book. There was no epilogue, nothing. It just ended and left you completely hanging. It was like BAM! Done! The ending left much to be desired. It left the story completely unresolved.
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I had high expectations upon beginning this book.  The writing was unique and the format intriguing.
The beauty of Paris was described so perfectly and made you believe you were there.  However, I had trouble falling for the premise of the main relationship which didn't allow me to love the book.
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I wanted to love this one. This is the story of Vincent, a 44-year-old artist who leaves her husband, Cillian when he reveals a secret about his past. Sharing secrets is a good thing, except when you share that secret through the medium of a novel, without telling your wife. Vincent leaves Cillian and Kentucky for Paris to figure things out. While teaching classes at a museum, Vincent meets a young man who is infatuated with her. An affair follows, and Vincent has to sort out her emotions. 

I enjoyed that Half-Blown Rose explores complex relationships (affairs, ménage-a-trois, family, spouses). What I did not enjoy was that Vincent did not seem to grow. She did not find herself in her business (jewelry making), which was something she had been doing since her children were little. She did not find herself in her relationships. She acknowledged that she wanted to travel more. Great! Do that. Your children are out of the house and self-sufficient, and you have money. However, travel still did not define Vincent. Her family did. For me, she stayed the same person she was from the beginning of the book, and was somewhat of a hypocrite.

The ending of the book was a bombshell of a cliffhanger. I wanted to see more from the ending and how the characters adapt. Alas, that was not this book.

I loved the ways the story was told—playlists, Cillian’s novel, movie script, Vincent’s diary, and text. I would have loved to see Vincent grow and blossom, but I do not feel she did that. Overall, great writing and intriguing characters; I simply wanted more from the plot. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC!
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what a dreamy book! i'm so glad i received this arc. this review is late because i ended up getting a physical copy from the editor and forgot i had a digital arc! it was a great escapism book!
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This book is full of passion and finding one’s self, I loved the playlist that were incorporated, it did not have the ending I wanted but still overall a good read,
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Beautifully written and so descriptive, yet this story moved very slow. Now, I say this as a reader who looks for something high paced at the beginning of any book, so I didn’t get invested until over half way through. With me saying this, I don’t want to discourage readers from this story, because I do think it was good! Just too slow for my liking.

The plot was a bit uneventful but the characters really moved the story. Is Vincent considered the villain!?  I can’t decide for myself but she was fascinating. She is a bit drawn out at times, but I ended up really enjoying her character. Ugh, Loup. I kind of imagine him looking like Sam Asghari (Britney Spears’ hubby), or maybe this gave me Sam and Britney kind of love story vibes (minus the whole affair thing). Perhaps a stretch, but I can’t get it out of my head.

Most of all - where’s the epilogue!? We are ending it like that!? *throws papers in the air, huffs and puffs until her face is red*

This story is definitely a love or hate kind of thing so if you’re on the fence, check out other reviews to see if it’s worth you reading.

Big thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the ARC and Libro FM for the ALC!

Content warnings: infidelity
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I enjoyed living vicariously through Vincent in Paris. The writing is beautiful and vividly descriptive. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy.
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Half-Blown Rose was a beautifully written story. Vincent, a 44 year old woman discovers, in a very public way, that her husband has been keeping a secret from her. She travels to Paris for a year to take a break and figure out how she will move forward. In Paris she meets Loup, 20 years younger. 

This story is often noted as a love story but I'm not sure how I feel about that. Vincent is still a married woman and to openly flaunt her affair was a little unsettling. Is she justified in her behavior because her husband hid broke her trust? Does two wrongs make a right? I felt that Vincent was a little self righteous in her attitude toward Cillian. I also think her reaction to the betrayal was over the top.

The beauty of this book is the way that the story unfolds. It is so descriptive that you feel like you are literally there. I can't wait to go to Paris now! The open-ending was frustrating.  I wanted to know the fallout from her decision. Overall, the story was ok, but it left me unsatisfied. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for a copy of this ebook.
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I had high hopes for this book because I saw some great reviews and I really enjoyed This Close to Okay, but it just didn’t do it for me. I was somewhat confused by different parts.. and that ending?! 

I guess I was just expecting more of a straight forward story? I don’t have much more to say.. I hate saying “negative” things about a book, but I can see where others would enjoy!
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Half Blown Rose is sexy. It is splendor and full of light and life and new beginnings. This book is just like Paris!

Vincent has discovered that her husband has kept a secret from her for their entire relationship-- and she finds out from him but not directly. To cope with this betrayal, she flies to Paris to stay in her family's apartment, teach classes at a museum, and just exist in this alternate reality. She meets some very energetic and fun friends, has dinner parties, enjoys wandering the streets of Paris and falling in love all over again. 

This story is a journey. Vincent was so hurt by her husband Cillian's betray that she no longer knew who SHE was anymore or who she could be without Cillian. I loved that while in Paris, she decided to just do whatever she felt-- eat pastries, sleep during the day, do whatever her spirit felt like doing while she processed this punch in the gut to her life. Vincent's new insecurity after the betrayal created a need in her to feel wanted and be able to move on... without really moving on until she decided if she could forgive and forget what Cillian did. 

I enjoyed all the references to art, books, and music. It was SO brilliant how Leesa Cross-Smith put all of Vincent's playlists on Spotify for US to listen to. I even checked out @anchoismusic on Instagram and was delighted to see little music videos and references to the band characters in the book-- and the website taking you to the author's own page to promote her book. BRILLIANT! What a great way to bring the book to life! C'est bon bon bon!
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I had the honor of interviewing Leesa Cross-Smith for my podcast Storytime in Paris about her book "Half-Blown Rose." Here is what I said:

My guest this week is the woman Roxane Gay called “a consummate storyteller.” Among her many accolades, Leesa Cross-Smith has been longlisted for the 2022 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award and the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize. Her latest novel, Half-Blown Rose is the Amazon Editors’ Spotlight for June 2022, the inaugural pick for Amazon’s Book Club Sarah Selects, and the Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick for June 2022.

Half-Blown Rose is the story of Vincent, a woman whose husband recently published a book uncovering secrets about his past and their marriage. She decides to escape to Paris in an effort to make sense of it all. There, she meets Loup, a charming French man 20 years her junior with whom she begins an intense affair. In the months that follow, Vincent must decide what really matters and who she’d most like to become.

In our conversation, Leesa shares how travel and the arts help shape her writing, how years are no barrier to a coming-of-age, and where her characters live after the novel ends. Then, she treats us to a reading from “Half-Blown Rose.”

Full interview here: parisundergroundradio.com/storytimeinparis
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I really enjoyed this book. ⁣
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The French language and accents, the scenery of Paris and all of the traveling, the vibes, the French flirtation, the Irish accent as well, the romance and sensuality created throughout this book, left me with this deep desire to travel to Europe and submerge myself in this beautifully depicted place. ⁣
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This was a coming of age story with a wonderful side of romance and I loved following Vincent from Kentucky to Paris to figure out what she wanted with her life after her husband betrayed her. ⁣
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We get Vincent and Cillians story, Vincent and Loups story and just Vincent’s story. I was in a trance going back and forth reading and listening to the audio of this beautiful book and absolutely loved the accents and language. It was so dreamy.⁣
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This gave me a little bit of The Idea of You vibes and I adored that book too.⁣
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I do wish there was an epilogue or a little more at the end. I’ve reread the ending a few times and I’m still missing something, and need a little more clarity, but overall I really enjoyed this story. It was truly dreamy and sensual. ⁣
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
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