Review: “The Map to You” by Rachel Stockbridge

Series: Next Stop Love #2

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 💋

Release Date: January 25th, 2022

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CW/TW: Mentions of character with drug addiction, toxic relationships, child neglect and abuse

Sasha Deforest always seems to fall hardest for girls she can’t have. And she’s never fallen harder than she has for her tough, stubborn best friend Kinsey. Sasha can’t help all the outrageously flirty things that come out of her mouth when they’re together, even if Kinsey always plays it off as a running joke. Sasha doesn’t really mind, though. She likes that they’re just friends. It’s easy. Uncomplicated. And it means she has an excuse not to open up about her troubled family life back home.

Kinsey Han has been nursing one hell of a crush on sweet, sarcastic Sasha for the better part of the last year. Not that she’d ever let Sasha know it. Kinsey tends to express herself by frowning and ordering her loved ones around. Even if she thought Sasha meant all the flirty nonsense she’s always coming up with, Kinsey could never be the kind of cheerful, outgoing woman Sasha deserves to be with. It’s better for everyone if Kinsey keeps her true feelings to herself.

But when Sasha drops everything to drive Kinsey 600 miles to deal with a family emergency, things get complicated. The more time they spend together, the harder it is for Kinsey to keep her feelings for Sasha buried—and the harder it is for Sasha to remember why it’s so important to keep Kinsey at arm’s length. If they continue to conceal the depths of their feelings for each other, they’d be missing out on falling in love with the one person who could truly get them. But taking that chance also means opening themselves up to heartbreak. And neither is sure they’re willing to risk losing the other forever.

 

The Map To You might have a really cute cover, but the book holds some very heavy topics and there’s a lot to wrap your head around. While this book didn’t do the trick for me for the most part, there were definitely some parts that I enjoyed more than others. I went into the story expecting something soft and cute, but I was given so much more to unwrap and wrap my head around.

What worked for me: 

  • The two leads are incredibly fleshed out and interesting, there’s so much going on with them that makes you gobble up every minute of what you get. Sasha and Kinsey had so much to offer, their personal struggles, their journeys and their family drama. 
  • I liked the college setting and all of the little details we got about their lives on campus—Sasha’s football life, Kinsey’s graphic design passion—and of course all of their friends. While at times it felt a little stifling, I loved just how deeply involved all of their friends were, constantly making sure that each of them was doing okay. 
  • I really loved the road trip side of the story, that was probably my absolute favourite part of the book. Because when trapped in a car with someone, the true nature of the other person always comes out. And Sasha and Kinsey tackle their friendship and relationship through the course of that car journey and it was great.

What didn’t work:

  • I like a good slow burn as much as the next person, but there was no end to the slow burn. There was no explosive moment when they finally give in to their feelings. I’m also okay with closed-door romances, but this one didn’t deliver all of the feels at the end.
  • The romance was very secondary and I struggled to connect with their relationship because there were so many other big focus points—Kinsey’s family, Sasha’s mother—and it took away from the story in a really big way. I would have liked more of Sasha and Kinsey talking about their feelings. So much of the story was them thinking about it and I didn’t feel that connection at all.

All said and done, the writing was great even if it was a little long-winded in places. While I struggled to enjoy the story, it might work for others!

Thanks to Rachel Stockbridge and NetGalley for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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