I'm opposed to WSD bikes because my geometry is not typical for a woman - I don't know the exact numbers, but unlike most women, I have a long torso and short legs. Therefore, the shorter top tube on most WSD bikes isn't helpful to me.
IMHO you can't go bike shopping without knowing your fit first.
And you can't rule out all women specific bikes based on the above.
Example - check the measurements of the Trek Speed Concept 7.0 WSD sizes vs non WSD. The ONLY differences are that the WSD has an XS, and between the other sizes, the only difference is the head tube length.
Now I'm not defending these shops because let's face it, it can be like buying a car and women don't know what they're talking about ;)
....but my advice to you is to know what really fits you and shop that way. Do lots of homework before you even step foot into a shop.
You went from a women's 49 Specialized (which was too small)
to a "unisex" 52 Cannondale? WOW that's quite a jump and could be as much as 2 frame sizes
(I don't know what the numbers look like side by side). Good luck. I hope it works for you.
I will be paying for a bike fit afterwards. Maybe I am impatient and ready to have a bike that is closer to what I need, and maybe it's just me, but I had a hard time finding a shop that would work fit first, bike second.
Second, my first bike was WAY, WAY, WAY too small. It was bought following a guess at a chart based on height, but as far as geometries go, I ended up on a 54cm Women's Specialized, so I was really like 3 sizes off. The 52 unisex should be just fine with a proper bike fit and narrower handlebars.