The Tender Mercy of Roses


The Tender Mercy of Roses is The Lovely Bones meets Garden Spells. Filled with lyric beauty and magical realism, Anna Michaels’ story is told with an authentic Southern voice.

Anna’s debut novel chronicles the journey of Titus Jones, a grieving father bent on vengeance, and Jo Beth Dawson, a disgraced former police detective bent on self-destruction. The enchanting heart of the novel is the spirit of a murdered rodeo cowgirl who guides the wounded protagonists through a past filled with dark secrets.

Tapping into the universal theme of sin and redemption, Anna’s debut novel is both poignant and hopeful.

An advance review by Sandra Fortune, Ed. D., calls The Tender Mercy of Roses “a magical and lovely novel, not to be missed. Anna Michaels’ prose sings on every page.”

The Tender Mercy of Roses (hardcover)
Publisher: Gallery Books; Editor: Abby Zidle; Agent: Christina Hogrebe; Publication Date: May 17, 2011

A Featured Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs.

"A Delta Magazine Top Five Pick for Spring."

You can purchase The Tender Mercy of Roses at the following outlets:


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The Tender Mercy of Roses, excerpt


Readers’ Guide
The Tender Mercy of Roses


l. Several universal themes drive the narrative in The Tender Mercy of Roses. Sin and redemption. The past that both haunts and heals. Why do you think Anna Michaels chose those particular themes? How did they relate to the characters?

2. Anna Michaels threaded elements of magical realism throughout the book. Discuss how she did this in ways that are relevant to the characters and the story.

3. Why did she choose the Cherokee Rose? The willow tree?

4. Why do you think the author chose Pony as one of the narrators? Discuss Pony’s relationships with Jo Beth and Titus. With her mother. Her grandmother.

4. Which character did you like best? Why?

5. What role did the minor characters play in driving the narrative forward? Did Martha Wolf surprise you, and why?

6. Discuss Sam’s role in the story. Do you consider him a major character or a minor one? Explain your reasons.

7. Rodeo is more than the setting in Anna Michaels’ novel. Why? What elements make rodeo seem to be a character?

8. Which of the characters did you relate to most? Why?

9. In what ways did the author use humor to counterbalance tragedy?

10. If you could change anything about the story, what would it be?

11. Did you serve hot chocolate made from scratch at your book club meeting? If not, for goodness sake, why? It’s even better if you use half and half instead of two percent milk. More fattening, too, but why spoil a good thing by thinking about calories?