Cover Image: Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose

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Member Reviews

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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I liked the main character of this novel and the other characters and the settings in Paris and Kentucky. The middle aged woman living her life in Paris after a betrayal and the choices she makes. Its a sexy and romantic at times look at a budding relationship vs. A well worn one. The end was a little off, left me wanting to know more.  Loved the French scenes that came to life through the descriptions.  Tension is built between the characters that is palpable. Closed it on a good note!

Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley
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A gorgeously crafted love letter to Paris, and a surprisingly engaging plot for me, despite the general topic not being in my usual area of interest. 

I’m not much for romance-centric plots, but this was such a lovely story and so richly done beyond just the central affair that it didn’t really matter. Cross-Smith has drawn a wonderfully lovable, complex protagonist in Vincent, and that’s only enriched by the equally fascinating secondary characters who surround her.

Atmospherically this book is flawless, evocative of what we all imagine we’d like a self-exile to Paris to be like. I really loved how the author incorporated music and art into the story. And hey Leesa, if you ever see this review, can we get a playlist of every song mentioned in the novel? I can’t get over how wonderfully eclectic and perfect the choices were (Note: On the author’s website, there is a 10-song playlist to go with the book if you’re interested).

I didn’t wholly love the ending of this (it’s really though to swallow something so open-ended when we’re so invested in the character and she spends the whole novel trying to make a central choice only to, in the end, not let us know what that choice is). 

Otherwise, it’s an exceptional story with wonderful characters and atmosphere, and I loved every moment of it.
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I have so many thoughts about this one and like … LESSA, WE NEED AN EPILOGUE OR SEQUEL ASAP! I need answers 😭❤️

the style of writing, the Parisian lifestyle, the background of french day-to-day life, the unconventional romances - it truly was *chef kiss* 

part romance, part contemporary fiction, this book will truly scoop you into the world of vincent and her quest to find herself after her husband keeps a life-changing secret from her. I totally found myself re-reading pages and chapters because the use of the french language was so so beautiful. 

I studied abroad and had the opportunity to tour paris and the french countryside a few years ago, and I absolutely adored how they tied in culture with the romantic and self-indulgent storyline 🇫🇷


I knocked off a star because there were a few chapters that were a bit repetitive and slow, and y’all know I love my stories wrapped up in a neat lil bow so that cliffhanger 🤯🌹

a big thank you to grand central publishing for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review! highly recommend the audiobook for this one 🎧

rating: 4 stars
wine pairing: beaujolais red blend
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I found the jumping between movie script, excerpts from Cillian’s book, and Vincent’s accounts very confusing and other than Vincent’s intense infatuation with Loop there wasn’t much to the story.
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This book is an intimate portrait of a woman whose marriage is at a crossroads when a secret her husband has hid for over 20 years comes out. Taking some time Vincent decides to go to Paris for a year to work on her business and to teach while deciding what is next for her and her life. While there, Vincent, starts making friends and then meets Loup, a man 20 years her junior, and they start something Vincent is not sure she wants to end.

At the core, this book is all literary fiction. There is not a lot of plot, but a narrative of a woman taking back her life and figuring out what will make her happy.

This is the third book I have read from Leesa Cross-Smith and I am 100% in for any book she writes in the future. Her writing is simple, engaging and unforgettable. This is a slow burn of a book, but oh so satisfying.

Thank you NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing and Hachette Audio for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I went all-in hoping to fall in love with Half-blown Rose. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much. This was a slow-moving love story with one at the forefront and the other in the background. The story surrounding the main character past was more interesting. As for the setting of the story, it took place in Paris and the majority of the time the author uses a lot of French words and phrases and automatically assumes the reader understands. Even the passages written in English didn’t convey or clarify any of the French meaning. As for the main characters, I wouldn’t to know more about them as far as image and personality go. I didn’t fall in love with the characters because so much was shrouded in the setting of the story. I wanted to know more about what Vincent and Loup to where I cared about them. I did not feel something for these characters. The level of romance was meh as well. There wasn't a build-up to where you wanted these characters to connect. The author often told what happened rather than showed what happened. Overall, I give Half-blown rose two stars because it didn’t grab my attention. There was little chemistry between the main characters, often too many characters to where the story became confusing, and not enough explanation.
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I really really liked the author's last book, This close to okay, but unfortunately I found this newest novel way too slow-moving to keep my interest! Told from the perspective of Vincent, a mid-40s woman grappling with secrets that were revealed in her husband's latest book. Not sure if she can forgive him for not telling her about a child he fathered as a teen before leaving Ireland, Vincent is taking time away in Paris to regroup. While there she gets embroiled in an affair with a much younger French man, Loup, and has to decide if she wants to reconcile with her husband or see what might happen with Loup. Very character driven, this book might appeal to fans of The idea of you or The perfect find. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is another DNF for me. Read 25% and just cannot care about this rich woman's mid-life crisis. The circumstances that triggered the crisis are awful, but all this story seems to care about is her crush on a younger man and how well our lead can avoid her problems. It's self-indulgent and boring. If you are interested in the descriptions down to the most finite detail, almost play-by-play, thought-by-thought like a screenplay, this is for you. I can't read anymore of it. 

**Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the eARC**
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To be completely honest, this book was a struggle for me. I found it to be predictable, the characters to be boring and they storyline flat. Cross-smith does a great job of transporting you to Paris. Her writing is incredibly descriptive and her characters are realistic, but the plot of this book just didn’t do it for me. I felt that very little happened in the book. I was annoyed throughout the book - maybe I am not the right audience? (30something mother of 3…)

44 year old Vincent, a mother or 2 adult children, escapes to Paris. She is trying to process her husbands betrayal, which she learns about in his newest bestseller. While in Paris, Vincent finds herself in a relationship with a 24 year old. All the while her husband is trying to win her back. Will she be able to forgive him and move forward? 

I did not like Vincent’s character. I found her whiny, flat and unlikeable. Typically this is not a reason for me to dislike a book, but since the book is written in her perspective, It definitely made reading it harder.  I struggled to understand her perspective and decisions at times. 

Thank you netgalley for my advanced reader copy.
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This was very unique and a love letter to Paris in many ways even as it detailed a marriage falling apart and a new relationship sprouting through the cracks.  There was some scene setting in the form of a screenplay as well as texts and emails interspersed with the narrative.  I liked it immensely even though the motivations of the characters weren't how I would have reacted.  Definitely would recommend this, especially if you are thinking of making a major change.  It was cathartic in that way!

Half-Blown Rose comes out next week on May 31, 2022, and you can purchase HERE! 

You're going to destroy me and I will allow it.
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44-year-old Vincent Wilde has run off to Paris after her husband’s betrayal is broadcast publicly. Cillian had fathered a baby at 15 in Ireland, but his embarrassed parents had moved him to America to get away. He decided to admit this in an auto fiction novel he writes that quickly becomes a hit. Now in Paris Vincent decides to live on her own terms and become immersed in the Parisian culture despite her estranged husband’s request for them to reconcile. Soon she finds herself drawn to 24-year-old Loup in an intense affair which introduces new complications. What will Vincent decide?
I felt so many unique emotions reading this novel. I felt like I was falling in love in Paris and the romance and mess of it all. I loved how open and nonjudgmental Vincent’s family and Parisian friends were. It showcases that we are multifaceted and not everything can be so black and white. You could really feel the love they all had for each other. I supported Vincent getting away from her husband and putting her needs first. I didn’t even mind her relationship with Loup. I was rooting for them, but I wanted so badly for her to go to therapy!! Her constant second guessing was exhausting, and it felt like she was stringing both Loup and Cillian along instead of being upfront and honest. The ending felt like it was left on a cliff hanger. I wanted to know how things would evolve when she made her many choices and the reaction to them. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for the EARC in exchange for an honest review.
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First let me say that Leesa, we need an epilogue! I have feelings about that ending.

Plot summary, Vincent is a 44 year old woman recently betrayed by her famous author husband, Cillian who had recently wrote an “auto fiction” about having a secret love child before marrying her. 

Vincent is understandably hurt, the love of her life has held these secrets their entire relationship, and didn’t bother to be honest with her until the book was published. She makes a decision to remake her own life and travels to Paris, living in a home owned by her parents, and becoming an art teacher at a local campus. There, she is consumed by everything Parisian and is completely immersed in the new life she’s created, despite her estranged husband’s frequent requests for forgiveness… which she declines.

Then she meets Loup, a young “looks like Timothée Chalamet” student who is smitten with Vincent. And before long, a intoxicating love affair begins.

This book is structured from Vincent’s POV, with chapters from her husband’s book “Half-Blown Rose”, and what seems like screenplay narrations. I didn’t quite grasp the need for the narrations until the ending (I still want that epilogue though!) There are also email communications between Vincent and someone (I won’t spoil it)…  and lastly there are several of Vincent’s current playlists sprinkled throughout the book. 

I couldn’t really tell where my reading experience was headed, the book is quite unique in its structure, written like a diary at times, but quickly I sunk deeper into some very compelling plot points… will Vincent continue to live in Paris? Will she ever go back to America and forgive Cillian, who she still can’t help but love deeply? How will she ever have a life without Loup, who so kind and full of life and loves her like she’s never experienced?

While Vincent “discovers” herself, the use of French language, and the Paris setting is absolutely a book in itself. I personally love all things French, but the way the author writes about this experience is absolutely mesmerizing. I saw another review where someone describes Leesa Cross-Smith’s writing like a warm blanket. I couldn’t agree more! There was something very comforting about Vincent coming into herself and reflecting on her life and her future choices at hand. I absolutely love lyrical prose and you will definitely find that in this book. By the ending, I felt like I had watched an impassioned French film which actually sent me into a happy cry when it was over. 

Ultimately, Half-Blown Rose was such an immersive literary experience, which are my very favorite kinds of books. If you love the things I mentioned above, you will definitely enjoy this one! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you to @grandcentralpublishing and #netgalley for my advanced e-arc in exchange for an honest review
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I struggled with this book. I supported Vincent’s alone time in Paris after her Louth of a husband published a book that revealed secrets about his life that he failed to tell her. I understood her getting involved with the younger guy. What I didn’t care for was how she strung both men along, deliberately lying to Cillian and not being honest with Loup.
The ending left me yelling you have to be kidding me. I hate being left in the lurch.
I’m sure other readers will love this book, but I didn’t.
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When I received the notification that HALF-BLOWN ROSE was on my NetGalley shelf, I abandoned the book I was already reading and hid myself away from my family so I could escape to Paris with Vincent, Loup, Agathe, the Laurents, Baptiste, and Mina. As with her previous novels, Leesa Cross-Smith has created a story about an engaging woman facing a big decision, and again, she's created a world where the reader falls in love with the characters on page one. I've loved her other books and have always appreciated the way the worlds she creates are filled with taste, smell, and sensation -- you're so grounded in the story. This book is sexy and sensuous, and I was so mad when it ended! More Vincent, please!
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"The best way to know life is to love many things."

While Half-Blown Rose is lush and dreamy, it just wasn't for me. Disclaimer: I do tend to stay away from fictional books about extramarital affairs involving couples with children because that's not my idea of ~fun~. That being said, my issue with Half-Blown Rose wasn't the fact that Vincent, a 44-year-old woman, starts up a passionate love affair with a 24-year-old Timothée Chalamet lookalike in Paris following her estrangement with her husband. In this case, her children are all grown up. Rather, my issue with Half-Blown Rose was that nothing really happens.

Hear me out: Half-Blown Rose is marketed as a story about a woman remaking her life, yet I felt like there was very little to no character development. At its core, Half-Blown Rose is 384 pages of Vincent's love affair in Paris and, at one point, it gets a tad bit tiring to read, especially with Vincent going back and forth between Cillian, her estranged husband, and Loup, her lover. Don't get me started about the ending.

There are some positives:

- The writing transported me to Paris

- I can tell Leesa Cross-Smith went above and beyond because there are playlists embedded throughout Half-Blown Rose

But in the end, Half-Blown Rose was frustrating to read with Vincent choosing to live her life in denial about her reality. That might be the point of the book, so I chalk it up to me (late 20's) not being the target audience.
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