This one has been a long time in the making. The Rose was first penned over ten years ago, originally over 200k words long, and the first novel I had ever completed. A few years ago, I decided to tackle the monumental task of reworking it (because it wasn’t all that great, to be honest). Now, it’s been split into a duet (two book series) and ten times the novel it had once been. The characters are the same (for the most part), but the plot took a lot of adjusting.
I’m so incredibly proud of this piece. Not only because I adore the story and the characters, but because of its meaning. Those who personally know me that in the past, I’ve had problems with anxiety, depression, and self harm. While I’m not that person anymore, writing this duet has brought about an abundance of healing and revelation in my life and how I see the world. Packed with humor and introspection, The Rose is the first book of the duet that teaches a lesson about mental health and the value of self care.
Belle lives her life from day to day, nearly crippled by her social anxiety. But if you ask anyone in Levi about it, they’d say she’s a sweet, quiet girl who works hard to keep up her family’s small ranch while holding down a job at the bookstore. No one knows that beneath her smiles lay a shy introvert who wants nothing more than to stay at home. It was easier to stay alone, stay isolated. That’s when she was the happiest. But during one thunderstorm, all of that changed and she met the first man she ever actually wanted to spend time with.
Leo made a habit of avoiding people when at all possible. Getting tied down, making friends, having a life only meant suffering. The darkness that followed him since his adolescent years never left, not really. It’d show up and ruin any hint of happiness that came his way. Running from his past and the brother that cursed him with this demon, Leo never expected to find something like home in the little country town of Levi. And he didn’t expect one storm to bring him to the barn of a girl with fire in her eyes and a face as beautiful as a sunrise. A sunrise that could chase away all the shadows.