Book Review by Gillian: Bad Judgment, by Sidney Bell

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Bad Judgment, by Sidney Bell
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: September 19, 2016

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith 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: 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.


M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Enemies to Lovers

Attempted Rape


Holy, this book was fun!

Bad Judgment is angsty in the best way and has a ton of UST (so much UST!), but it’s also thrilling, sexy, emotional and surprisingly funny. It’s probably one of the best enemies to lovers story I’ve read this year and has so many great elements that I can’t believe this is author’s first novel. FIRST!! What an accomplishment!

Brogan Smith has been newly hired as a bodyguard to a client who is notorious for being ‘difficult’. Brogan knows this is just code for being an asshole, but with a reputation for being able to handle the more special clients, he’s accepts the assignment willingly. But when he sets his sights on Embry Ford, his client’s executive assistant, he’s immediately fascinated by Embry’s good looks and his uptight demeanor.

Embry Ford is determined not to let Brogan Smith past his defenses. But resisting Brogan’s annoying yet charming banter is becoming more difficult the more time he spends in Brogan’s company. But Embry has a mission to carry out and falling for his boss’ bodyguard will only make accomplishing his dangerous task even more difficult.

The first and last third of this book is from Brogan’s POV and what a charming character he is. You definitely get the impression that he’s sweet, kind and generous to a fault – a character trait that seems to be to his own detriment. Even his best friend, Mario, accuses him of being a sap with a “fundamental need to save the people” he cares about. But watching the buttoned-up Embry thaw under Brogan’s care and concern is delicious and oh-so-satisfying. Brogan’s attempts at flirtation aren’t exactly met with enthusiasm on Embry’s part, but their banter is what elevated this book from good to great. Brogan pushes Embry’s buttons and Embry responds, almost despite himself, and some of the conversations between the two were laugh out loud funny. How can you possibly resist a novel that throws in a Schrödinger’s reference:

“Okay,” Brogan said. “Teach me something about physics then.”

“I meant working—”

“I know what you meant. We’re doing physics.”

“Force equals mass times acceleration,” Embry intoned.

“You can do better than that.”

Embry sank into a chair and scowled. This bossy thing was getting old fast. “You don’t give a shit about physics.”

“I’m a little afraid of physics,” Brogan replied, scraping his thumbnail along the table’s edge in a twitchy, nervous gesture. “I have a hard enough time with addition. Half the time I forget to carry the one. But there has to be something you can teach me that doesn’t use much math.”

Ten minutes later, this happened:

“Who the fuck would do that to a cat?” Brogan asked, looking horrified.

“They didn’t really. It’s theoretical. Just answer the question.”

“Well, how the hell do I know if it’s alive or dead if it’s in a box? I can’t see it.”

“That’s the point. The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics would’ve meant the cat was both until you knew for sure by seeing it, and that’s—”

“Screw quantum whatever,” Brogan told him. “The cat can’t be alive and dead at the same time. If you don’t believe me, just put the damn thing in a transparent box and be done with it.”

Embry smiled. “Schrödinger would’ve liked you.”

Despite my love for Brogan, which only grew in estimation throughout the book, it’s Embry who had all my sympathy. I’m grateful the author included Embry’s POV, because everything that leads up to the climax of this book is a direct result of Embry’s tragic history. The Embry that Brogan sees in the beginning is only one facet of his complicated personality and while I’m not sure that anyone would actually ever put themselves in Embry’s position, it still makes his emotional capitulation to Brogan all that much sweeter.

All in all, I thought this was an excellent debut novel by Sidney Bell and I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for further books by this author. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a great romantic suspense novel with lots of charm and humor.


Sidney Bell lives in the drizzly Pacific Northwest with her amazingly supportive husband. She received her MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2010, considered aiming for the Great American Novel, and then promptly started writing fanfiction instead. Eventually more realistic grown-ups convinced her to try writing something more fiscally responsible, which is how we ended up here.

When she’s not writing, she’s playing violent video games, yelling at the television during hockey games, or supporting her local library by turning books in late.

You can find Sidney Bell on:

You can purchase Bad Judgment from:


Barnes & Noble

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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