Bad Judgment is a charged and adrenaline-packed story and is Sidney Bell’s début male/male romantic suspense novel.
Embry Ford quietly lives under the radar, working as a personal assistant. He is young but suave, super intelligent, good looking and brusque. He works for—and is bedding—a man he loathes, Joel Henniton.
Brogan Smith works for a security firm assigned to guard Henniton, who is the COO of a company called ‘Touring Industries’, an arms dealer. Various death threats have been made against him and the owner of Touring has insisted precautions be taken. Brogan is an experienced bodyguard, an ex-army man who knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving is that the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.
Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world.
A lot of my opening paragraph comes from the blurb for the book and it pretty well lays out what the novel is about. However, this book is more – and less – than the blurb suggests. The first forty-seven percent is told from Brogan’s point of view and although the character is a very sweet, open, generous and kind man who I liked, his point of view – which contains an awful lot about various companies and extended scene setting – is a little boring. The relationship between Embry and Brogan is pretty one-sided and to be honest I felt Brogan had the patience of a saint. But if sometimes the love interest is giving nothing away emotionally, the slightest smirk can seem like a wonderful achievement. I realise this, and many readers may find this section of the novel rife with unresolved sexual tension. The ‘hastily grabbed sex’ scenes are very erotic and well written, but this section feels too long with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between apartments and offices – and smirks.
Strangely, nearing the end of this section Brogan starts to investigate Embry to find out why he stays with Henniton. And when we switch to Embry’s PoV, the author cleverly lets the reader explore his past while remaining in the present. This is when the novel began to really capture my interest and then I thoroughly enjoyed Bad Judgment from then on.
The pace and exposition pick up from here and although there is still a lot of to-ing and fro-ing for Embry and Brogan it has more context. Embry’s life has been fuelled by vengeance and hatred for so long now that he finds it nearly impossible to allow Brogan into his life. Brogan weakens Embry’s resolve and in his mind tempts Embry to betray those for whom he is seeking vengeance.
I have tried to avoid spoilers in this review, as the surprises and unravelling information are what makes a suspense novel. However, there are those for whom certain scenes may be upsetting to read, so without giving too much away, I have to inform prospective readers that there is an attempted, non-consensual sex scene. It has to be rough or it would not serve the demands of the plot, but the violence is mutual. It is not gratuitous nor is it treated lightly – quite the reverse – but it is fairly detailed. There are also descriptions of previous violent acts and some gory bits.
The second part and the excellent epilogue more than made up for the weaknesses in the over-long first section of Bad Judgment. The epilogue contains a really romantic exchange that had this reader gulping with emotion. So, overall I enjoyed this début novel by Sidney Bell and I shall look out for her work in the future.