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Praise for the novels of Naima Simone

“Simone balances crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Passion, heat and deep emotion—Naima Simone is a gem!”

—New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates

“Simone never falters in mining the complexity of two...people who grow and heal and eventually love together.”

—New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean

“Simone is always a good bet.”

—All About Romance

“I am a huge Naima Simone fan. With her stories, she has the ability to transport you to places you can only dream of, with characters who have a realness to them.”

—Read Your Writes

“[Naima Simone] excels at creating drama and emotional scenes as well as strong heroines who are resilient survivors.”

—Harlequin Junkie

Also by Naima Simone

The Billionaire’s Bargain

Black Tie Billionaire

Blame It on the Billionaire

Vows in Name Only

Trust Fund Fiancé

Ruthless Pride

Back in the Texan’s Bed

Look for Naima Simone’s next novel available soon from HQN.

For additional books by Naima Simone, visit her website, naimasimone.com.

Naima Simone

The Road to Rose Bend

Table of Contents

The Road to Rose Bend

Slow Dance at Rose Bend

Excerpt from The Last Little Secret by Zuri Day

To Gary. 143.

To the real “Moe” and “Eva,” Lucille “Moe” Alston and Eva Lee Butts. You taught me kindness, selflessness, sacrifice, generosity, how to cheat at cards and how to creatively use, uh, agitated adjectives. You both showed me what it was to live life loud and full of laughter. You encouraged me to dream big and supported me every step of the way, whether it was going to college, traveling to another country for the first time or writing a book. You were—still are—the matriarchs who exemplified pride, courage and beauty in grace. I couldn’t have asked for better examples of womanhood and dignity. Most important, you loved me. God, how you loved me. I will miss you both for the rest of my life.

The Road to Rose Bend


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Dear Reader



THERE’S NO PLACE like home.


Obviously, Dorothy hadn’t gotten out much.

Sydney Collins stared at the majestic Monument Mountain and Mount Everett, the breathtaking sentinels that soared above the picturesque town of Rose Bend, Massachusetts. Dorothy’s bewildering need to return to boring, sepia-toned Kansas couldn’t be found among the trees that covered their peaks, though.

Sydney could still remember sitting in the living room and watching The Wizard of Oz for the first time when she’d been seven years old. While her parents and her sister, Carlin, had been rooting for Dorothy to click those ruby heels and make it back home, Sydney had jumped to her feet and yelled, “Are you crazy, Dorothy? Keep your ass in Oz!”

Well, her parents hadn’t been too happy with the language—they’d later had words with Uncle Travis about watching his mouth around her—but Carlin, resting in her special recliner, had quietly snickered.


A dusty, too-familiar feeling weaved through Sydney, burrowing deep in her heart. From experience, she knew no amount of meditation, Come-to-Jesus talks or Sunday sermons explaining how “God moves in mysterious ways,” could dig it out.

Sydney’s fingers curved around her slightly rounded belly, the mound and life within keeping her grounded here, in the present.

God. She hadn’t been back home for fifteen minutes, and already the memories were smothering her, seeking to drag her back.

Well, the past wasn’t exactly dragging her back. As of yesterday morning, when she’d left Charlotte, North Carolina, to start the twelve-hour drive to the Berkshires, she’d willingly returned to her hometown located in the Southern Berkshires.

The hometown she’d vowed—eight years earlier—to never step foot in again.

Had it been only about her, she still might be settled in her Ballentyne condo.

But it was no longer only about her.

Sydney splayed her fingers wider over her stomach. Seventeen weeks, her doctor had confirmed the day before yesterday.

Love, so deep, so fierce it was terrifying, welled up inside her as it did every time she thought of the tiny, vulnerable person growing inside her. Love and...fear. Oh God, Sydney was scared. Not only for herself, but for the life she would soon be responsible for. On her own. Yes, it was her choice to raise her child as a single mother, just as it’d been her choice to divorce her ex-husband, Daniel. But those decisions didn’t make the future any less daunting. They didn’t mean she wasn’t questioning if she was doing the right thing.

Shaking her head, as if the abrupt motion could dislodge her doubts, she inhaled a deep breath. Released it.

“I’m doing this,” she said to the mountains. To no one. “I’m really doing this.”

Was she reminding herself...or questioning her sanity? Yeah, she had no clue. But with her apartment lease canceled, all her belongings either packed away in storage or piled inside this vehicle, with her ties cut, she had no choice but to go forward. Literally and figuratively.

She closed her eyes and tipped her head back. Up here, the air didn’t contain the mugginess of the South. Though she’d lived almost a decade in Charlotte, North Carolina, she’d never quite become accustomed to the humidity that clung to her skin like a layer of clothing. Here, though, summer had truly arrived. A high seventies temperature with a fresh breeze that brushed over her skin like a loving caress.

The Southern Berkshires in mid-June were simply...breathtaking. As much as she resented the place where she’d grown up, she couldn’t deny the beauty of it. Centuries-old trees seemed to preen with their vividly green, lush leaves. Wide fields rolled into hills that were only eclipsed by the majesty of mountains and endless blue sky. As a child, she’d stared up at those great sentinels, imagined they’d been stacked there by lightning-bolt-wielding gods and fierce Titans. And as a teen, she’d studied them, dreaming about what lay on the other side. They’d been her friends, her guardians. And they’d been the only thing

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