Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Review - The Road to Rose Bend by Naima Simone

The Road to Rose Bend
by Naima Simone
Series: Rose Bend, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: April 27, 2021

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.

The Road to Rose Bend is filled with drama and angst! Naima Simone delivers her usual heat and wonderful dialogue, but adds an additional layer of emotion as she tackles some pretty heavy topics and emotional turmoil.

From their first meeting it was clear that Cole and Sydney were just what the other needed to help move forward with their lives. Cole is still dealing with his grief over losing his wife and child, so even though there were a few times I wanted to give him a proverbial smack and tell him to wake up and see what is front of him, it was easy to cut him a whole lot of slack knowing that he was still going through the grieving process. Sydney was fierce - she left her marriage because she did not want to settle for less than she deserves, and that didn’t change once she found out she was pregnant. She has her own issues to deal with, and although it took her a bit to let go of some of her childhood baggage, I did love that ultimately she got all she deserved.

There was a wonderful supporting cast of characters, many whom I suspect will get their own book (yeah!!!) And no one writes the mean, evil, selfish character better than Naima Simone, so you know there were a few of those thrown in to add to the angst and drama that Cole and Syndey had to go through.

Reflective of the times, this book also addressed some issues of race and bullying. I really liked the way that these topics were addressed, and I really loved the exchange between Cole and his adoptive mother.
He smiled at his mom, though a familiar flicker of anger wavered in his chest. “I’ve just come to accept that not everyone doesn’t see color, like you do.”

Moe slammed the oven door shut and dropped a pan of fresh, hot cookies on top of the stove with a clatter. Cole jumped at the sound, startled as she whipped around to pin a fierce scowl on him.

“Don’t you ever accuse me of that,” she growled, jabbing a mitt-covered hand at him. “Of course, I see color. To say I didn’t would mean I don’t see your beauty, don’t acknowledge and respect your proud heritage. It would mean I don’t see your strength, the struggles you have to face in life and your resilience to over come them. It would mean that I, as a white woman, don’t grasp that I have certain privileges granted to me just because of the color of my skin, and that you will encounter hate and bigotry just because of the color of yours. It would mean that I don’t respect that, that I don’t need to do all in my power to support you while not making it about me. It would mean I don’t see you. So, no, Coltrane, I see color. And I see the power you possess and the weight you bear because of it.”
This was another wonderful read from Naima Simone. I can’t say enough about her writing and the way she brings her characters to life.

In typical Harlequin fashion, this was a quick read that leaves you with a happy for now, but since this is just the first in the series I can only assume that we’ll get to see a bit more of Cole and Sydney as more books are released.

If you are looking for angst, drama, heat, and a whole lot of feels, then this is one you shouldn’t miss!

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book I received from the Publisher on NetGalley.

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