Rock the Cradle, Aiden Bates

Rock the Cradle: An Mpreg Romance (Silver Oak Medical Center Book 6) by [Bates, Aiden]
I started off thinking that this would be one of the better of the series. I'd read a preview and was excited about these flawed, vulnerable, neurotic, heroic men. Then throughout the full story I found myself increasingly frustrated by nearly everyone. But all's well that ends well, yeah? The story ended with sweetness and hope and a bit more summary than I like, but it was a good ending for men who really needed happiness and love.

Derek was a quick thinker, a compassionate man, and very intelligent. He was also deeply flawed, intent on separating himself from everyone that could truly hold his heart. He didn't know to ask for more, would never let himself, so deludes himself into thinking he'll never be worthy of it and is determined to never ask. Circumstances put him in a situation where someone needs him for their care and well-being and, to his surprise, his complaining neighbor becomes a source of comfort.

Alex is stuffy, stuck up, focused, and so very alone. He's not aware of just how lonely he is until he finds himself yearning for Derek's companionship. His family life is in turmoil and his psyche is in need of some serious help. When he blows up at Derek one too many times he realizes that the time has come to seek outside help. Once he gets the aid he needs he's also given the shock of his life when someone from his past shows up on the doorstep...of his neighbor's place.

Together they ride an extreme roller coaster of emotion and neither one thinks the other wants more. In fact, they've convinced themselves of that and their avoidance is so extreme that their assumptions do an excellent job of killing what could be a happy future. The way they find their futures is incredibly frustrating.

I fought not to skim all the parts where people getting after Alex. Yes, he's a total jerk sometimes because he can't see his way past his own problems, but why in the world is there no one in his corner?! Let's beat him up, berate him, and guilt him so much that he's backed into a corner and only gets more defensive and upset so he makes even more mistakes and cringe-worthy outbursts.  Honestly, everyone talked about how alone Derek was and that he's the one most inconvenienced and hurt by everything that's going on and while I mostly agree, I get so mad that no one can see that for all Alex is surrounded by "family", he's more alone than Derek.  No one, not even his mostly understanding mother, builds him up and makes him see that he's a good man without doing and sacrificing for every single person around him.  And after the initial meeting with the therapist, where are the ongoing visits he knows he should be having?  No support, no understanding, no confessions of love and hopes for him.  Rick Wade could be that, but the one instance of advice is short and never revisited.  I'm almost disgusted at everyone making Alex out to be the one who's always wrong, always having to fix everything.  After Ayla left he got blamed for the whole thing as a 13 year old...anyone want to be kind about that altering how he saw and did things?  Derek had an incredibly difficult upbringing.  Damaging, to say the least, and everyone gives him all the patience and love in the world.  Absolutely necessary, yes, I'm just saying that I feel so much for Alex and wonder why no one else does.  Ugh...I can't really rant anymore without giving away big spoilers, so I'll leave it there.

Overall, this was frustrating and hopeful in equal measure.  The beginning and the end tried valiantly to make up for the ridiculously frustrating middle.

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