cover image Christmas in Rose Bend

Christmas in Rose Bend

Naima Simone. HQN, $8.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-1-335-62099-6

Simone returns (after The Road to Rose Bend) to Rose Bend, Mass., for an endearing holiday romance pairing an ER nurse who’s mourning her late parents with a carpenter who’s recovering from heartbreak and grieving the death of his best friend. Nessa Hunt agrees to a Christmas trip to Rose Bend hoping to connect with her 12-year-old half-sister, Ivy, whose mother died when Ivy was a baby and over whom Nessa has assumed legal guardianship following their father’s death. But Nessa’s carrying a heavy secret from her own mother’s deathbed: the man who raised them both was not Nessa’s biological father. Nessa dreads the holidays, and festive Rose Bend does nothing to improve her mood—a situation exacerbated when she crashes into the attractive Wolf Dennison while checking into the Kinsale Inn. This collision becomes a metaphor for their relationship as the two get repeatedly thrown together by small-town life. Nessa’s not looking for love and she’s determined to evade both Wolf and the town’s innumerable holiday events—but Ivy’s enthusiasm and Wolf’s magnetism eventually change her tune. Simone masterfully balances heart and heat, giving Nessa’s and Wolf’s grief the weight it deserves while building a convincing slow-burning romance. Readers will grow a soft spot for this quaint town. Agent: Rachel Brooks, Bookends. (Oct.)