My name is Rebecca Branch, and I am the mother of two outstanding young women, one a scientist working on her Ph.D. at McGill and the other an educator working on her Ph.D. at Oxford. I live in the Catskill Mountains in a little town called Hudson and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one hundred miles south. I am an architect by trade but an art historian by education. My father was an American archaeologist and my mother an Italian artist, writer, and socialite. I grew up in Rome and New York, shared by divorced parents, attending UC Berkeley for my undergraduate work and Columbia University for my Ph.D. I worked as an assistant to the curator of Greco Roman arts at the Metropolitan Museum in my youth before leaving to earn a livable wage. I entered the design community and was the interior designer for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Revlon, Chanel, Hugo Boss, Armani, Danskin, and J. Crew. I also modeled through my college years and into my early thirties.
I started writing romance novels on a dare in 2013 while in-between jobs. My first novel was Summer of 71, a story of romance and discovery set in Rome, a city with which I am very familiar, and a place where I lecture on Roman history, architecture, and Italian culture bi-annually. My second book is Great Caesar’s Ghost which continues the story with my hero Maximilian DuPont and is a time-travel romance skirting periods from the first century BC through the modern-day and even into the future. My third work is A Roman Holiday and continues the series, adding Julius Caesar to the time-travel team.
Then my life changed. My husband suffered a near-fatal auto accident in 2004 and lost his memory for several months and his ability to walk for two years. When he returned to the family, he was mad at the world for his lack of memory. He focused his anger on me. I cared for him for the next twelve years, but we both suffered his recovery. On October 26th, 2016, he decided to leave me and move to Florida where he was offered work. Both my daughters were gone at college. I’d lost my job. My house was deep in foreclosure. That night, I attended a function at the United Nations where I am a board member. Seated beside me at the dinner table in the secretariat was the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. She was a celebrity swimsuit model, using the alias Jessica Rossi, but I knew who she was. I’d seen her pictures in my husband’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. We were both suffering the men in our lives. We were both miserable with where life had taken us. We connected so quickly and had the best evening together and we met again the next day.
I was married for twenty-four years and fell in love with this woman who was half my age. She moved in three months later when we finally stopped kidding ourselves and became lovers. Jess and I have been living together since July 2017. It’s been the best time in my life. I am renewed. I am half of a team. She inspired me and I wrote The Resurrection of Griffin Ballard. It is my shortest work and is a contemporary romance between an older man and a younger woman. Jessica is the inspiration for Bethany Lambert, the heroine who saves Griffin’s life, much as Jess has saved mine.
I have been inspired ever since and several books followed. I continued the time-travel series with Out of Time’s Abyss and take my audience to renaissance Florence. Then I changed direction and wrote about my life and meeting Jessica in a memoir titled, The Girl Who Fell Off the Turnip Truck. It felt so good to write about ourselves that Jess, who never wrote anything in her life, agreed at my request to write about her modeling career and the time leading up to meeting me. She completed Harvesting the Turnip and I edited it. It was an amazing collaboration and I kept it true to her voice. Then we wrote a book together, again about us, but this time a fictional account about what if we had met when we were both young before I was married and had children. The book is titled A Modern Roman Holiday.
In May 2021, amid the Covid lockdown, I wrote Hey Alexa. It’s a heartwarming story of a terminally ill man who finds true love at the end of his life. But it’s also an adventure, exciting, sexy, and a happily ever after affair. I am now writing my next time-travel sequel and Jess is writing futuristic science fiction. She was just accepted at a prestigious New England college and will enter in the fall of 2021 as a twenty-nine-year-old freshman.
Although sometimes placed in the erotic category, my work is far more about self-awareness, relationship building, coming of age, loss of innocence, personal development, reclamation, the culture of Italy, art and architectural history, an examination of the passage of time, food, and humor. I write as an adult to an adult audience and do not hide physical relationships behind closed doors. But what I write is loving and respectful of both genders, light and upbeat, fulfilling and satisfying. No one gets hurt, no one degraded. You should walk away from each of my books with a smile and increased knowledge of the western world, Rome’s influence, politics, the social revolution, religion, and the inimitable wonder of a loving relationship between a good man and woman…and more recently…two good women.
Even when writing fiction, I write from personal taste and experience. My characters are mostly me, right down to the men, children, and the dog! I write Jessica as I see her and she writes me as she sees me. It’s the reason my characters seem so real.
So, welcome to our page. If you write to us, both of us might answer. We encourage you to recommend our books to your friends and to read every one of them yourselves.
Rebecca Branch and Jessica Rossi
Here are some pics of me when I was younger and modeling... a small blip in my life, but one that brought me to Italy and exotic places at a young age. The other pics are of models who look like me. Of particular note is Sonia Aquino, an Italian actress whom I’ve been mistaken for on several occasions; gladly, I might add, as I think she’s lovely.
I try to retain a level of anonymity to protect my career in architecture and my family, so forgive me for not posting anything that might give me away. These, however, are close enough. I have also included a cover of the New Yorker magazine which looks surprisingly like me and a picture at the Belmont Stakes wearing a hat. The magazine cover might as well have been me!