Cover Image: Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose

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Member Reviews

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:
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I really enjoyed this book. ⁣
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. ⁣
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. ⁣
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.⁣
This gave me a little bit of The Idea of You vibes and I adored that book too.⁣
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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Ending DNF-ing this audio book. I heard it’s amazing and want to give it another shot but haven’t picked back up yet. 
The low rating is a reflection of that decision to put this book down.
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Leesa Cross-Smith's book is what I might call a suburban fantasy in that it is what a woman might dream of in terms of opportunities and privilege---being able to live in her parents' Paris apartment after her husband does something that threatens to upend their 20+ year marriage and having an affair with a 24-year-old hot young man while she is there. This book would be great for book clubs because it offers the opportunity to discuss a lot of things including, why do women get treated differently for having an affair with younger men (including by readers) when men do not?
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Thank you to #partner Grand Central Publishing for our copy of Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith.  This book is available now.

Rating: 3.5 (rounded up)
Genre: Romance/Fiction

Thoughts: This would make a fantastic book club pick!  There is so much to discuss about this book and people will definitely feel passionate against and for this book. This book is steamy and set in Paris. It's complex and totally bingeworthy!

All of that being said I struggled with the main character.  Without giving away any spoilers, I had a hard time with her at times and struggled to feel totally invested in this book. 

Read this book if you:
-Enjoy books set in Paris.
-Enjoy stories that are complex and leave a lot for discussion
-Like cliff-hanger endings
-Read steamy, nontraditional romance.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an ebook copy of this novel.

Half-Blown Rose follows Vincent Wilde through Paris, where she is staying after becoming estranged from her husband. She teaches, stays in an apartment her parents own, meets her French friends for dinner parties, and begins a serious love affair with a 24-year-old named Loup. I loved a depiction of a woman in her forties still trying to figure out her own mind and her own passions, as well as the fact that Vincent had children who were portrayed as important to her but not central to her existence and agency.

I ended up speeding up my reading a lot in the latter half of the book because the writing had me eager to experience the moment of reveal when Vincent finally opens up to Loup about the reason she and Cillian are estranged... and it turned out to be a 1-paragraph address where we found out he already read it. Between that and the open-ended ending, I wasn't left particularly satisfied, even though I enjoyed the writing overall.

I would have been happier if certain elements of the book that didn't seem to add much had been culled, most notably the excerpts from Cillian's in-book novel, also called Half-Blown Rose. It's always risky to put a book within a book, especially when the in-book book has specifically been praised by critics but seems a bit flat and expository.
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Unfortunately this one was just not for me. I may try again another time, but for now it is a DNF
(I tried the audio but think if I try again it’ll be in the physical form)
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Any story set in Paris - I'm immediately sold. I love the crafty narration that Cross-Smith provides in her story telling. I couldn't get through this book fast enough, yet wanted to savor every second.
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Leesa Cross-Smith's follow-up to This Close to Okay is a beautifully written story of Vincent, a 44-year-old American living in Paris, trying to find herself after her husband's betrayal. She finds solace in a steamy relationship with a much younger man, Loup. While I found myself caught up in the evocative descriptions and language, I just couldn't bring myself to root for Vincent.
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Thank you Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for the gifted digital copy!

Half Blown Rose tells the story of Vincent, who has escaped to Paris after learning a shocking truth about her husband’s past. While in Paris, she starts a wild love affair with Loup, a charismatic man half her age. While enraptured by Paris and falling in love with Loup, Vincent must try to rediscover herself and make some sense of what is happening to her. 

Half Blown Rose is ALLL the things - it’s sensual and passionate, tender and intimate, and emotional and honest. The writing is STUNNING and perfectly captured the Parisian ambiance and Vincent’s conflicting feelings. AND THE ENDING…. 🤯🤯 I had lots of great discussions around this one so when y’all finish this one, I NEED to know what you think!

I did this one half on audio and half physical book. I don’t usually heavily lean towards one or the other but DEFINITELY recommend the audio. The narration perfectly captures the essence of the story and you’ll feel like Vincent on the streets of Paris in the middle of this torrid love affair. 

I LOVED how much music plays a part in this - Leesa Cross Smith made playlists for a bunch of different aspects of the book which I adored. It was so hard to narrow down songs for my own playlist so… I made two 😌
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I love Leesa Cross-Smith, and she brings so many delightful elements into this one: a book about books and writers! A sexy new relationship! A title derived from Jane Eyre! PARIS!! I certainly enjoyed reading about how one couple's relationship unraveled because of a book one of them published, but for a story with such juicy content I was disappointed at how often the story seemed to sag. This was a good book, but it wasn't the author's best. I very much look forward to reading more in the future (and was thrilled to see her recent announcement that the next book is already on the way).
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✨ Review ✨ Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith

Fives. Fives across the board. 

When I started reading this...I was unsure. But I very quickly fell in love with this quirky, beautiful book - full of love, light, and personal exploration.

This book takes up shortly after Vincent, a 44-year-old woman, flees to Paris after her novelist husband, Cillian, makes a big life-changing reveal in a book he's just published. Vincent is searching for herself now that her kids are grown and she's not sure if she can trust her husband. Meanwhile, she meets Loup, a 24-year-old Parisian, full of passion and energy, and despite her best efforts, she isn't able to avoid him. Throughout the book, Vincent must decide who she wants to be with and who she wants to become.

Half-Blown Rose is just SUCH a work of art. Cross-Smith weaves in playlists, excerpts from Cillian's novel, journal entries, text messages, and so many little excerpts of life. In some ways it felt almost like a scrapbook entwined with the novel, bringing in these beautiful pieces of Vincent's life. The book is rich with references to music, food, art, travel, and more. Because of this, I think it would have been hard to jump right into the audiobook, but when I did, it was a feast for the ears.

On a deeper level, the book explores liminal spaces, or the spaces in between. To me, this is where the book came across as absolutely brilliant. The book highlights those in-between places and moments - trains and planes, life transitions, and so much more. Especially as my kids grow and I'm getting closer to 40, I found it so inspirational to see the ways in which life can continue to deliver, surprising you with new adventures and joys.

This book is slow and sensual and so beautifully descriptive. It places with sound and language, with repetition and absences, with feeling and all of your senses. In places, it's absolutely steamy and then it pulls back again to reveal the small joys of foods and places and sounds surrounding us.

Genre: literary fiction with f/m romance
Location: Paris (mostly) with some London, Amsterdam, and other destinations
Reminds me of: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Pub Date: out now

Read this if you like:
⭕️ books filled with travel, food, music, art, etc.
⭕️ reading about the "in betweens" of life
⭕️ multidimensional women
⭕️ slow burns with lots of description

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and #netgalley for an e-copy and physical copies of this book!
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I am a huge fan of Leesa Cross-Smith. Each one of her books is a sensory, tacticle experience and Half-Blown Rose is no different. It is a drunksy summer in Paris after marital betrayal that is filled with rain, perfume, cigarette smoke, and rainbow-painted tin cans. Read this when you are in the mood for a sexy, beautifully-written story that explores love across generations. It is The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee meets Normal People by Sally Rooney. Best paired with candlelight, wine, lobster linguine, tiramisu della casa. XO, Tara
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