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The Road to Rose Bend (Rose Bend #1)TITLE: The Road to Rose Bend by Naima Simone
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Release Date: April 27th, 2021 by HQN
Format: audiobook & kindle edition (11 hrs and 45 mins; 325 pages)
Genre: Small Town Romance, Contempoary
Narrator: Mari
Blurb: If it was only about her, she might never have come back to Rose Bend.

But it’s not only about her anymore.

Sydney Collins left the small Berkshires town of Rose Bend eight years ago, grieving her sister’s death—and heartbroken over her parents’ rejection. But now the rebel is back—newly divorced and pregnant—ready to face her fears and make a home for her child in the caring community she once knew. The last thing she needs is trouble. But trouble just set her body on fire with one hot, hot smile.

Widower and Rose Bend mayor Coltrane Dennison hasn’t smiled in ages. Until a chance run-in with Sydney Collins, who’s all grown-up and making him want what he knows he can’t have. Grief is his only connection to the wife and son he lost, and he won’t give it up. Not for Sydney, not for her child, not for his heart. But when Sydney’s ex threatens to upend everything she’s rebuilt in Rose Bend, Cole and Sydney may find that a little trouble will take them where they never expected to go.
I am still trying to figure out how to explain how I feel about this book. I liked it but I also found it frustrating.
Sydney Collins went home to Rose Bend to try and figure out her next steps in life because she was pregnant yet going through a divorce. First thing she did when she got home to Rose bend (North Carolina) was visit her sister’s grave site and she ran into Coltrane “Cole” Dennison. Sydney was best friends with Cole’s sister and there seemed to be some old undercurrent of past attraction, but there was a lot going on and they were both in bad emotional and mental shape.

When Sydney’s ex-husband threatens to sue her for sole custody of their unborn child citing that Sydney is an unfit mother, Cole jumps in to help Sydney by offering to marry her and present a two parent home establishing stability. On top of this marriage of convenience, Sydney has to deal with the estrangement with her parents, other women in the community who had designs on Cole, a vindictive ex-husband and her own feelings of guilt etc. Cole is still drowning in his own pain from loss, while dealing with childhood issues steaming from his adoption, and the communities expectations. This guy had serious PTSD but he was such a standup man.

I was rooting for them but there was a lot of sub-issues that were just was serious as the pregnancy and frankly, they should have been addressed more in depth rather than focus on the romance. These are two people that need individual healing as much as passionate love. So while I liked the marriage of convenience plot, even the best friend’s brother trope, there was a good deal of unresolved baggage that weighed the story down for me.

The good thing is that it ends in an HEA so Sydney and Cole do settle down with love and a baby

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