Rachel Lindsay’s novel ‘Real Love’ was inspired by her feeling ‘misunderstood’ on ‘The Bachelorette’

Rachel Lindsay made history in 2017 as the first Black lead of “The Bachelorette.” Viewers of the now 20-year-old ABC reality series watched Lindsay, who worked as an attorney at the time, meet and fall in love with chiropractor Bryan Abasolo.

Lindsay's season remains the most recent season that saw the show's lead actually say “I do” to the man who received her final rose.

In 2019, Lindsay and Abasolo tied the knot in a beautiful destination wedding in Cancún and are still happily married today.

After becoming one of the biggest names in Bachelor Nation, Lindsay announced in a 2021 New York Magazine article that she was officially cutting ties with the franchise. In her first-person essay, she wrote that the franchise viewed her as “a token.”

Rachel Lindsay (Craig Sjodin / ABC)
Rachel Lindsay (Craig Sjodin / ABC)

Since putting the show behind her, Lindsay has repeatedly gone viral for her red carpet interviews as an on-air correspondent for “Extra.” She also co-hosts the podcast “Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay,” where the two discuss trending topics and Black culture, and she breaks down the latest news involving Bravo’s reality television shows on The Ringer’s “The Morally Corrupt Show” podcast.

Recently, the modern day Renaissance woman decided to add "author" to her list of titles.

In 2022, she released her nonfiction book “Miss Me with That: Hot Takes, Helpful Tidbits and a Few Hard Truths,” a collection of essays about her life and past relationships.

A year later, Lindsay published the book “Real Love,” on sale March 7. Rather than mine her experiences for essays, she used them to inform a fictional love story.

In an interview with TODAY.com, the Dallas native opens up about the inspiration behind “Real Love” and why she hopes it will help people understand the decisions she made on “The Bachelorette” and post show.

'Real Love' was inspired by a question Lindsay asks herself: What if she hadn't gone on 'The Bachelorette'?

What if Rachel Lindsay hadn't become the bachelorette? It's a question she asks ponders frequently. She can imagine the road not taken: A career as an attorney, the life in Dallas she left behind.

In that crossroads, Lindsay says she found the perfect place to begin a novel.

“Real Love” tells the story of Maya Johnson, a woman who has the chance to become the face of a reality show — and turns it down. Instead, she focuses on landing her dream job as the youngest-ever female director at her investment firm. Maya intends to stay on the the path that she and her parents imagined for her.

The book’s title is the name of the fictional series, which is similar to “The Bachelorette.” After declining going on “Real Love,” Maya watches her friend, Delilah, accept the role and embark on her televised journey to find love.

While seeing Delilah take a risk and spending more time with her care-free sister, Ella, Maya begins to question if she should diverge from her seemingly picture-perfect life.

Although “Real Love” is a work of fiction, Lindsay tells TODAY.com it's in conversation with her previous book of essays, “Miss Me with That.”

“It’s like the other side of the story,” she explains. “I wanted to write my book of essays because I wanted to take control over my story for the first time ever. I feel like I’m very misunderstood and I wanted people to understand (with ‘Real Love’) that I almost said ‘no’ to going on ‘The Bachelor,’ which changed the entire trajectory of my life.”

Lindsay makes clear she is not her protagonist, despite experiencing similar scenarios.

"Some of the things that she does go through are similar to me and she’s very based off me. You see her afraid to take a leap of faith, too afraid to step into the unknown. And even though her perfect life plan is shaky, she still decides to continue in that way because that’s what she’s known. That’s what she has pretty much been groomed and prepared her entire life for,” she says.

Before she was cast on Nick Viall’s season of “The Bachelor,” Lindsay thought she was living the life she was supposed to, just like Maya. “I was with the guy that I said I was going to be with and yet I still didn’t feel fulfilled. I almost stayed in that life. as unhappy as I was,” Lindsay recalls.

Lindsay says the novel allowed her to tap into her creative side

While writing “Real Love,” the media personality says she crafted a romance novel about self-discovery that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride.

The 37-year-old credits a high school boyfriend for igniting her creative writing genes. He introduced her to poetry and the power of song lyrics, making her feel “liberated.”

But after her creative awakening, she decided to choose a more practical career path.

“I went to college and then I was in law school,” she shares. “I stifled my creativity and I never felt free as I did in those years when I was tapping into that.”

Maya, like Lindsay, attempts to suppress her artistic side in “Real Love." Other characters, like Ella and Delilah, seem to share personality qualities with Lindsay, too. But between the three of them, Lindsay says that the pre-“Bachelorette” version of herself most closely resembled Maya’s people-pleasing mentality.

“I was Maya. And I’m happy to say ‘was,’” she says. In the past, she wanted to be more like Ella, who eagerly welcomes new opportunities and adventures. Today, Ella mirrors the way Lindsay approaches life.

Lindsay hopes 'Real Love' teaches readers and fans to be fearless

Lindsay predicts that fans who buy her novel thinking it will be solely about reality television or includes behind-the-scenes secrets about “The Bachelorette’ are going to be surprised.

The attorney says she intentionally wrote the book with the fictional reality show is in the background, not the center, of the story.

“You met me on television,” she says. “But I lived a life 32 years before that. There’s so much more to me.”

She shares that “Real Love” gives a glimpses into her background, upbringing and — in her words — “why I’m so outspoken and why I can’t just shut up.”

She adds, “I’m not as harsh and rough as people think I am. I’m a lot more sensitive.”

She hopes 'Real Love' gives insight into why she chose Bryan Abasolo

The “Extra” correspondent hopes that through Maya readers will understand her better and her connection with Abasolo.

“Everybody knows that my decision — choosing Bryan over Peter (Kraus) — was super controversial,” she says. “When I tried to explain why I was emotional about sending Peter home, no one wanted to believe me.”

She says reading Maya’s story will help people realize why she struggled on “The Bachelorette” with “being in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere.”

One of the messages she conveys in “Real Love” is to be fearless and to trust yourself, just like she did with Abasolo. Those themes set up the novel’s unexpected ending, which Lindsay teases, “does not fit the template of a romance novel.”

Abasolo and Lindsay in 2018. (Ray Tamarra / Getty Images)
Abasolo and Lindsay in 2018. (Ray Tamarra / Getty Images)

'Real Love' is also inspired by her 'controversial' decision to pick Bryan Abasolo

Lindsay reveals she added multiple Easter eggs in “Real Love” that reference her relationship with Abasolo.

Delilah pursues a suitor on “Real Love” that isn't exactly a fan-favorite, not beloved by her friends or the audience.

Any member of Bachelor Nation will see a clear connection between Delilah’s decision and Lindsay’s season of “The Bachelorette.”

Although Lindsay presented Abasolo with the first impression rose (making him an early frontrunner), many viewers became invested in her connection with another contestant named Peter Kraus. After an emotional breakup with Kraus in the finale, the episode ended with Abasolo, who received somewhat of a villainous edit on the show, proposing to Lindsay.

When her season concluded, social media users criticized Lindsay’s decision and some Bachelor Nation pundits questioned Abasolo as well.

The former reality television star says Delilah’s actions in the book were, “absolutely a nod to how people viewed (my relationship with Bryan) and what was really true.”

“One of the things that my mom said to me before I left was to trust my gut,” she says. Although she followed her mom’s advice, her parents challenged her when she introduced them to the final three contestants in Episode Nine of her season.

During the show's requisite meet-the-family episode, she remembers having a conversation with her parents during which she echoed their advice back to them.

"'You told me to trust my gut. You have to trust me, the decision that I’m making with love and this decision for my life,'" she recalled saying.

There was more to her connections that her parents and the viewers did not see at the time. She points out that filming on “The Bachelorette” lasts all day but is edited down to two-hour episodes per week. That means there's a lot we don't see.

“I got to know Bryan in a way that the audience didn’t,” she says. “I fell in love with Bryan. There’s certain things that I needed to hear from him.”

She adds, “And y’all definitely weren’t in the fantasy suite. So I knew Bryan in a certain way.”

Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images )
Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo (Emma McIntyre / Getty Images )

'Real Love' also touches on her being the 1st Black bachelorette

Without giving too much away, Lindsay also refers to another scene in her book where one character makes a comment about the type of “typical lead” that should be featured on “Real Love.”

Lindsay says the interaction is similar to what she endured being the first Black lead of a popular franchise.

“I wanted to have ‘Real Love’ be of importance in the book without focusing too much on all the issues that I’ve experienced or others have experienced on reality TV,” she says. “(But) absolutely, the moment in that is a nod toward it.”

She already knows one person who will definitely enjoy the Easter eggs: Her husband. But, she isn’t sure he is going to read her book.


“I don’t think Bryan’s into any of the things that I do,” she jokes. “Not my podcast. Not my book. I don’t know if it’s a fear of what I’m going to say.”

She continues, “He has not read it. He should because I think he will see a couple nods to him in the book.”

To those who do dive into “Real Love,” Lindsay is looking forward to them discovering a new side to her and continuing to follow her journey outside of Bachelor Nation.

“Who knows what I’m going to do next,” she says. “I hope I keep shaking things up.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com