5-star reads,  Dark,  M/M,  Romance,  Suspense

Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell

This book is a gem. It was so much more than I expected and an emotional ride for sure.

I knew going in that it would have a strong hurt-comfort theme and also contain some triggers such as domestic abuse and sexual assault. But that still didn’t prepare me for the ups and downs of this story.

Let’s just say I felt so much during this read. Which is pretty much the highest praise you could ever give a book.

Synopsis: Brogan Smith works in private security, and has just started a new assignment – guarding one of the higher-ups of a weapons manufacturer who’s been receiving death threats. It’s just another job. Until he meets his client’s assistant, Embry Ford. Ford appears cold and distant, not at all amused by Brogan’s flirting. But Brogan sees flickers of the man behind the cool facade and he’s intrigued. Embry is out for revenge. And he’s so close to his goal when a sexy, infuriating bodyguard keeps getting in his way, and under his skin. He can’t afford distractions, and still he can’t seem to turn Brogan away. As the two get closer, it’s obvious to Brogan that Embry, with all his secrets, is in over his head. It’s also obvious that he’s in serious danger from the man Brogan has been tasked to protect.

There are so many different facets to this story, it’s hard to know where to begin. I did struggle a bit in the beginning, though. I put down the book several times, yet I kept coming back. And I’m so glad I didn’t give up, because this is really an amazing story. But at first, Brogan’s pursuit of Embry made me uncomfortable. He came on too strong and kept baiting Embry despite being shut down over and over. So initially I thought Brogan was acting quite juvenile and crude, as well as being completely tone-deaf. But I stuck it out, and when Embry started coming around I couldn’t put the book down.

The first third of the book was told exclusively from Brogan’s point of view. And that made the back-and-forth with Embry so brilliant. As a reader, I could just follow along on Brogan’s emotional roller-coaster while he tried to understand, and get closer to, Embry. It was a constant guessing-game and emotionally draining, feeling for Embry one moment then resenting him the next. It wasn’t until the story switched to his POV that I could say for sure that I even liked him.

So I was really impressed by this read. It’s such solid writing and such a well thought out plot, with all these individual threads coming together beautifully. It’s the story of a broken man getting put back together. It’s of all-consuming rage. Of grief. Of love. And it’s all wrapped up in a plot involving a dirty arms-dealer and people who will stop at nothing to keep from getting caught.

To me, the portrayal of Embry’s emotional state, and the way he reacted to (or rather, repressed) past and present traumas, felt very real. I think that’s my main takeaway from this book. That powerful depiction of Embry, floundering to find his footing when Brogan comes along and awakens parts of him he thought were lost forever. It’s beautiful and painful. Heart-wrenching.

This is simply a brilliant story and I can’t recommend this book enough. And I couldn’t be happier that I’ve found a new-to-me, potential favourite author.

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I'm a Swedish book nerd reading mostly steamy English romance novels. And since there is so much good stuff out there, and so much shitty stuff too. I just want to give credit where it's due (and diss the rest).