Title: No Judgments
Series: Little Bridge Island #1
Author: Meg Cabot
Format: Paperback/eBook, 367 pages
Publication: Sept. 24, 2019 by William Morrow
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…
When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.
But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.
But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.
After devastating events start to pile on one after the other, Bree decides to escape to Little Bridge Island, where she spent her cherished childhood vacations. She dyes her hair pink and is working on finding herself again but a potential hurricane is trying to disrupt her calm.
Fending off her mother and ex-boyfriend begging her to leave the island, Bree decides to stick it out with some locals, one who is rumored to be the local playboy. Drew's sexy looks have caught her attention before but he seems like trouble she doesn't need.
The storm and fate seem to be throwing them together as Bree gets to know him more, she's starting to want to break her no dating rule.
I had purposefully come to this island to be alone and figure out my next move. None of that had included becoming attracted to darkly handsome brooding men who were kind to dogs.
Told only from Bree's point of view, No Judgments spends a lot of time in her head. Bree thinks about how her father's death, learning the woman she calls mom is not her biological mother, and hints at a traumatic experience that involved her ex-boyfriend's friend for the majority of the first half to let readers in on plot points and reasons for Bree's character make-up. These big issues are all thought about by Bree in her head and never fully get to be flushed out as the outer issue of the hurricane getting ready to hit the island takes up most of the action part of the story.
There was some build up to the hurricane, Bree doesn't want to leave because her rescue cat Gary has health issues and she wants people to think of her as a local and not a “Fresh Water”, but the actual event of the hurricane only lasts a night and Bree basically sleeps through it. The aftermath talks about potential health hazards, lack of resources and looters, but the reader never really feels this as Bree gallivants around the island. At the midpoint in the story, Bree and Drew still had a little bit of animosity to their relationship (and one quick make-out session), due to preconceived notions about each other but Bree decides to risk life and limb to go out and see if he survived the hurricane; her emotions seemed to strongly come out of nowhere.
The second half switches to Bree and Drew trying to rescue, feed, and water animals who's owners abandoned them with the hurricane coming in and now can't get back because of a bridge washed out. Around the 60% mark is where I finally thought I could see some emotional and relationship development between the two.
I’d broken all the rules, and now I was sitting here, like an idiot, by the light of the Milky Way, eating the guy’s steaks with his happy, well-fed dogs pressed all around me, listening to him talk. God. I had it bad.
With the story being told in Bree's point of view, readers get to know her pretty well but Drew's character could have had more filling out. He seemed likable, a laid back island guy who loved dogs, but I never knew him and he felt like almost an after thought for being the main partner in a romance. This had some heavier issues, death, infertility, and sexual assault sprinkled in but they were never fully fleshed out and the tone of the story colored them with a bit too much of a cavalier vibe. Honestly, if someone asked me what this story was about, I'd say the message was “Don't judge people for leaving their animals in a hurricane”, which can be a good message but feels odd for a romance/contemporary fiction.