Cover Image: No Judgments

No Judgments

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Member Reviews

No Judgements is a story that follows Brie and Drew as they prepare for a category 5 Hurricane heading toward their tiny island in the Florida Keys.  In this hate to Love romance, it follows the 2 as they realize their feelings for each other as they keep getting thrown together in the diner that Brie works in, at the Hurricane party held by Drews Aunt, and in the aftermath of the storm when Brie goes looking for Drew to make sure that he and his dogs survived the storm.  

Pros:
I liked that the 2 were very concerned about helping out the abandoned animals that were left behind when their families evacuated the island ahead of the storm.

Cons:
  -the story did not flow.  The first half of the book is about how much Brie dislikes Drew and then bam, the storm hits and she jumps into his arms...Literally...Gagging commence
- I don’t care what is going on, you do not leave your pets behind.  They are a member of the family, and if they have to sit on someone’s lap on the drive or you have to sneak them into your hotel room, you take those animals with you.  That is not acceptable
-I realize that the story is a fluffy romance novel, but the romance between Drew and Brie is not believable.  There was no slow simmer, just i hate you, i hate you....Love of my life, lets move in.  Just cheap writing.
-Brie was just an idiot.  She literally did nothing to get ready for the hurricane, and used the excuse that her cat was sick so she couldn’t evacuate.  Oh please.  

  I really struggled to read this book.  I started reading it in August and just barely finished in February.  It is not a long book, just incredibly boring, and could not keep my interest.  It took me 2 weeks to finish the last 3 pages of the book.  
-
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"No Judgements" is about a woman working her way through the mental aftermath of a sexual assault, including running away from her life to a picturesque island in the Florida Keys - just in time for a hurricane.  She gets swept away by a rough-hewn local guy and together they take care of business post-hurricane (and maybe even get a little busy). 
This would make a great beach read!
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Fun, mindless summer read. Perfect for by the pool, with one eye on the crazy kids and one ear on your neighbor's boring story that you've heard 56 times. Some funny parts, cute characters and I dug the island vibe.
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City girl Bree has been enjoying life in Little Bridge, Florida, after fleeing from NYC, her mother, her boyfriend, and The Incident. She's revamped her life and image, and isn't going to run anymore. Not even with the storm of the century bearing down on her new home in the Florida Keys. Not even from hot but bossy carpenter, Drew, who thinks she should get out of dodge. Because Bree is taking a stand. For herself.

Buckle up bitches, because I have feelings.

First of all, please let me establish some (minor) street creds:

1. I have been through 3 hurricanes (Irene, Hermine, Dorian), and evacuated a fourth (Florence). All but Dorian were direct hits on my house—as in, the eye passed over where I lived.
2. Hurricane Michael obliterated my in-laws' house (and destroyed a lot of my friends' homes and businesses), and my wife and I drove through the wreckage to find them five days later.
3. I've been a part of state and county planning (a very small, eensy weensy part, but still more than this author) in Florida and North Carolina for hurricanes.
4. My wife and her family have lived in the Florida Panhandle for generations. They've seen shit.

The vast majority of my feelings for this book come from Bree and her attitude towards preparing for this storm.

I understand that the girl is a spoiled naive ninny, but in the aftermath of Michael (and being published two weeks after Dorian demolished the Bahamas), the entire tone of this book just felt like it was exploiting a natural disaster for a love story. It felt super wrong, particularly with how the hurricane in this book was portrayed.

The Preparation

First of all, Bree is an idiot. Let's establish that right now.

Granted, she's an idiot who has been seriously emotionally abused, sexually assaulted and gaslighted, but that doesn't take away the fact that she's an idiot.

Her entire justification for refusing to evacuate, and spreading lies to friends, family and coworkers about her future whereabouts for the storm?

I'm not being stubborn. For once in my life I'm standing up for myself and not running (paraphrased)


Bitch, it's not called running, it's called being smart. This is a category five hurricane with 170+ mph winds bearing down on you. Nothing in the Florida Keys is built to withstand that, and lemme just say that 20 feet above sea level is um, not that high when you're on a small island.

And don't give me that bullshit about your beloved cat being sick and recovering from surgery and not traveling well so you can't leave your home. Nuh uh. You have the means and the funds and the ability to leave. Leave. Trust me. You're only putting yourself and your precious cat in danger.

She gives this excuse over and over and over and it's never convincing or a solid reason.

Also, while the author does a good job capturing Floridians' attitudes towards hurricanes, she doesn't really do that great of a job portraying the storm preparation itself? Or how county, state, town and federal officials and entities handle storms? While yes, the water and utilities do get shut off before the storm particularly on islands, what she didn't really mention was the mandatory curfews implemented before the storm itself.

She's got people evacuating to shelters...in the event of a hurricane of this magnitude, there would probable be no shelters open in the direct path of the storm (shelters are only open if they are rated to withstand the category of storm...usually a cat 3—there are very few buildings rated to cat 5 wind speed, much less storm surge). There would be mandatory evacuations for everyone—not just tourists. There would be government transportation to help those who couldn't get out on their own get out. There would be shelters available outside of the direct hit zone for those who need it. Curfews before, during and after the storm are standard, not implemented on a whim so that it'll look good.

The hurricane parties though...accurate, to a point.

The Love Interest

Maybe dips in barometric pressure affect one's sex drive (paraphrased)


Uh...what?

I just don't see it. Bree gets wet at the mere sight of Drew, but this half baked enemies-to-lovers (why tho? why are they enemies??) romance is all wet, and not in a good way. Sure Drew is like, the one person in the world who believes her sexual assault was a sexual assault (what is this, 2008?), but come on. They had no chemistry at all. That they hook up right away seemed...weird.

He treats her like she's an idiot throughout the entire story (granted, that's the truth), while hypocritically staying in his house by the water to defend his land against the storm. Like a Real Man, he's going to stay throughout the storm—with his five dogs in the house—so that he can make repairs on the spot. Because his house will withstand 250 mph wind and is strong on forty foot pilings (what an eyesore this house is, plus...forty feet?? Really? wtf no that's ridiculous).

Also, this quote:

That was the way with males. It took some of them longer than others to learn not to play rough.

Granted, this was about her cat, but it seems pretty fucked up coming from a sexual assault survivor.

The Storm

Welp, Bree got a full night's sleep in a 200-year-old mansion, sooo. My in-laws said Michael sounded like a freight train coming at them for five hours straight. I guess Bree can just sleep through anything.

The Aftermath

Oh lawd.

So you're telling me, that this storm that was worse than anything that's ever hit the Keys, to include Irma and Wilma (the recent ones) and that Little Bridge sustained a direct hit but really didn't have much damage beyond the bridge (THE BRIDGE BITCH NO YOU DID NOT) washing out and a bunch of boats going missing???

Oh—why did the good folk of Little Bridge not have a lot of damage to their homes aside from some light flooding?

They boarded up their windows.

That's what saved their houses against a Cat 5 hurricane.

Boarding. Up. Their. Windows.

Fun fact: boarding up windows does a great job protecting your windows and limiting glass shards going everywhere, but know what it doesn't protect against? Your roof coming off due to the wind.

Also, yes, you can take a near direct hit from a cat 5 and get away relatively scott free due to bands, wind, tides and surge, (see: Panama City Beach vs Panama City), but this is UNUSUAL AND ONLY FURTHERS PEOPLE'S MOTIVATIONS TO NOT EVACUATE.

FFS at least get some basic information right.

I guess this was a wind event, even though apparently there was 10 foot storm surge over an island where the highest point was 20 feet above sea level (the highest point in the Florida Keys is 18', which IS NOT HIGH).

No Judgments

And to the pet rescue.

Look. I don't give a flying fuck about Bree's no judgments resolution, since 1) this bitch is the judgiest thing on the planet and 2) I have no sympathy for anyone who evacuates from a hurricane and leaves their pets behind. Period.

The author did her damndest to make the characters who did this as sympathetic as possible, but I'm telling you no. No. No.

Pets are your family. And this book more than played up the catastrophic nature of the storm, so those who were like,"oh I just thought I'd be able to come back in a couple days and get them and it'd be okay" I'm just going to scream eternally into the night.

1. This book is set on the Florida Keys. There is one road in.
2. That road is built like a bamf (seriously, those bridges are the stuff of my wet dreams they are amazing). No, I'm not talking about the smaller roads but Highway 1.
3. Priority on the roads is for FDOT, emergency personnel, relief and recovery efforts, and line crews. Not civilians heading home.
4. Everybody and their second uncle is going to be heading down to check out the damage/go home. Good luck getting back quickly.

So no. Leaving your heat-sensitive birds in the attic during the hurricane (knowing the aftermath is the worst because of the lack of electricity, AC and care) is not going to garner any sympathy. Leaving your dogs chained in the back yard during the worst hurricane ever is going to get a phone call from Animal Services and your ass thrown in jail.

This book glamorized animal abuse and I'm not having it.

Yes, I get that there are circumstances where you might not be able to evacuate with your pet, but you'd better make damn sure you try your hardest to take all members of your family with you.

Takeaways

1. A community can fully recover from the worst hurricane ever (without hardly any structural damage) in four months. (lol author needs to visit Panama City...and I'm not talking about the beach).
2. Boarding your windows will 100% protect your entire house from 155+ mph winds
3. Bridges are structurally weaker than Drew's beach house
4. Leaving your pet behind? Don't worry—a sympathetic rich girl will be their savior and will enlist the help of her super famous mom to get resources in!

Yes, this is 100% a work of fluffy romantic fiction but please, please, please don't romanticize natural disasters

Anywho, definitely don't read this is you've lived through a hurricane, been part of the planning for a hurricane, are/were employed by FDOT, are a sexual assault survivor, or want to preserve your remaining brain cells.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review, but held off reading it due to preparations for Hurricane Dorian. I ended up listening to the audiobook.
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I've loved Meg Cabot books since I was a preteen, from the Mediator series to her new adult books. I was surprised to find that I'm wholly disappointed by No Judgments. Sabrina, or Bree, was an okay MC; however, she lacked the fun, relatable, and sometimes ridiculous qualities of a trademark Meg Cabot heroine. Bree's internal monologue became annoying repetitive by the halfway point. And some....okay, a lot, of her decisions either made no sense to the story or were incredibly unrealistic. I mean, that scene between Bree and Kyle was just *super* cringeworthy. The love interest, Drew, was also not what I've come to expect from Cabot. I couldn't get a read on his actual personality because it seemed to shift wildly from one scene to the next. 

Overall, I'll continue to pick up Cabot's books because I've read so many wonderful ones from her over the years. Sadly, this one fell very short for me.
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Meg Cabot never lets down on a fun, beach type read.  This was just the sort of thing to give you laughs, smiles and a general good feeling.  I will continue to keep her books in my beach bag!
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So after growing up loving the Princess Diaries books, I was a bit skeptical about reading a Meg Cabot book as an adult. But I was pleasantly surprised! It is a cute story of someone trying to get away on a small island and what happens when a storm hits and how she is effected by all the people around her, plus with a romance thrown in for fun. Would be a great beach read.
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This was pretty classic Meg Cabot, so take that as you will. The Florida setting descriptions were perfectly spot on, which was a treat too. 

TW: Discussion of sexual assault and PTSD, non supportive reactions to sexual assault depicted in text
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I actually really enjoyed this book. It's clean enough that I could also let my teenager read it, while also being mature enough that adults reading it don't feel like their reading a teeny bopper book.
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I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Bree Beckham has escaped to Little Bridge Island, Florida to get away from problems with her mother and ex-boyfriend; it was a favorite vacation spot of her late father, and Bree loves it, too.  When a Category 5 hurricane approaches the island, Bree decides to stay on the island despite the warnings.  She ends up staying in the house of her employer with her cat, Gary.  After the hurricane, Bree is horrified to realize how many people fled the island without their pets and teams up with her employer's sexy nephew, Drew, to save the abandoned pets.  Bree has sworn off men after her experience with her ex-boyfriend, but will she be able to resist Drew?

This had everything I usually love in an escapist read and with loads of animals to boot, so I was expecting to love this book!  I did enjoy the story but never felt fully connected with it.  Also, most of the rescued pets aren't actually shown in the story, just mentioned in passing that they had been checked in on and fed.  It was not Meg Cabot's best book.

*Trigger warning for sexual assault
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Twenty-five-year-old Bree Breckham hasn't been on Little Bridge Island for that long, she is not about to let a little hurricane chase her away.  Especially since she doesn't feel like she has a "safe" place to land.  Everybody on the little island is telling her differently, though. Her roommate, her mother, her ex-boyfriend.  Not to mention most of the island's residents and the local officials are telling everybody to get out.  But Bree still refuses to evacuate.  She thinks that she will just hole up in her little apartment with her cat, Gary.  She heads off to the local market to stock up on supplies and her boss's wife invites her to their home that night for a pre-storm party.  Bree is hesitant to go because she just knows that their hot nephew, Drew Hartwell, will be there.  Still smarting from a bad relationship, Bree just does not want to deal with the unspoken attraction between the two of them.  The party leads to Bree taking refuge at the Hartwell's with her cat, but when she learns that many of those who evacuated the island left their critters behind, Bree enlists the help of Drew to rescue the most helpless creatures on the island.   Will Bree finally be able to deal with her past and accept that Drew Hartwell may be her future?

I have always been fond of Meg Cabot's books.  They are like a "brain candy" for me.  I was excited to read No Judgements because it was a book about a natural disaster, which is also a favorite subject of mine.  Bree Breckham is a little bit quirky but steadfast in her decision to not leave the island.  I think her refusal to leave had more to do with her mother and ex-boyfriend, both demanded that she leave.   As a pet lover, it was tough to read about all of those people who left their pets behind.  It makes me angry and yes, I am going to judge. They should not be pet owners if they can't take care of them.  Of course, No Judgements glosses over the realities of what happens during in a Cat 5 hurricane.  The damage is minimal, nobody dies, the pets all survive, and the girl gets her guy.  I shouldn't be surprised, because the "brain candy" is generally one of my favorite things about Meg Cabot's books, but this timed it almost seemed irresponsible.

Bottom Line - Maybe No Judgements is proof that I am past the age where I find brain candy novels cute and entertaining.  I know that there was a time in my life where I  would have loved Bree and swooned at Drew, but this time I just was discouraged by the cavalier attitudes surrounding a Category 5 hurricane.

Details: 
No Judgements by Meg Cabot
On Instagram
Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 9/24/2019
Buy it Here!
Thank you to NetGalley for the book in exchange for an honest review.
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While the book over all was alright, I couldn't stand the main character Bree. She was insufferable and so completely stuck up. The writing wasn't bad and I appreciated the side characters, especially the many animals. It was also a very quick read. Not my most favorite book ever but it was decent.
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Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries was one of the first books that truly hooked me on reading in middle school - I was obsessed for years, reading every one as soon as I could get my hands on it. As such, I always try to read anything new she has  out, and I was immediately interested in No Judgements whenever I first saw its announcement. A romance where the main character is stuck on an island during a hurricane? Where she's rescuing pets stuck on the island as well? Where she falls for a gruff local? It all sounds so great!! Especially since Cabot lives in the Florida Keys where the book was set. Unfortunately, the execution is...not so great. Cabot's writing is lacking the humor that makes her earlier books work so well, and it felt as if the plot was plodding along. The romance was fairly dull. I didn't really understand why Bree and Drew fell for each other....it pretty much felt like instant chemistry with no spark, which I can't stand if I'm branching out to read a romance novel. The ending was just as lackluster. A disappointment, really - I'm thinking Cabot wasn't given a lot of time to write this one. Here's to hoping her next book will be better.
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*I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.* 

I want to preface this by saying that Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors. I've read (& loved) almost all of her books. I wasn't overly fond of the Heather Wells mysteries, but I read those as well. No Judgments  did not disappoint. The premise of the novel is that our main character, Bree, has moved to a small town in Florida to start her life over. This town is in the path of a hurricane, and Bree has chosen to stay with her cat! instead of leaving him to fend for himself. After the storm passes, Bree, and her "friend" Drew 
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Meg Cabot’s new series (The Little Bridge Series) takes place in the Florida Keys.  It’s a veritable paradise with all that implies.  Sand, sea, and sky blend into one big beautiful backdrop for this tale of betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption.  Bree is a law school drop out with a soft spot in her heart for every animal she meets.  Gary is her 20 pound cat whom she rescued from the street and now is a purring pet pacifier for everyone he meets.  The only problem is that the weather forecast is predicting that a major hurricane is bearing down on the Florida Keys and expected to hit there in 48 hours.  Bree can’t even think about leaving here.  She’s got a job as a waitress she likes; and a roommate who is great especially because she likes Gary.  But her new ordered life is about to take a hit as everyone has been ordered to evacuate and Bree doesn’t want to go.  

She’s in Little Bridge to forget the recent major blows to her life. In all the chaos of the evacuation and all the things hurricanes can do to people’s lives; she meets Drew. Handsome and sexy Drew is her boss’s nephew. She is immediately smitten though she is fighting against it. As he helps her take care of all the pets that people had to leave behind, she gets to know him better.   With the hurricane as backdrop these two destined souls find each other.  Is Drew a keeper or a player?  Only Bree has the answer to that.  Fans will love these characters and this first story in the Little Bridge series. This is a feel good read for a cold winter’s night.
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This book just didn't do it for me. I just couldn't relate with the characters. As someone who has dealt with hurricanes, people that voluntarily put themselves in harms way when they had a completely plausible way to get out frustrate me. I can't take them seriously, and because of this, from the very beginning, I couldn't get on board with the character.
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Meg Cabot has a great way of writing a funny, sweet story without making it too sappy.  Her books are good for cheering you up and entertaining you.  This story is about a hurricane and its effect on a small island and its people.  There are a lot of interesting characters and good-hearted people.
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No surprises here that Meg Cabot has another winner. I'm a sucker for a charming small-town romance, and this delivered! Throw in a love for animals and a dramatic storm, and you've got me.
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To start, the very fact I had the ability/opportunity to read an advanced copy of a Meg Cabot floored me from the beginning. I have loved her books from the early days. This book definitely had the Meg Cabot feel with the female being a bit of a misfit type, the setting being just believable, and the hero is not what the heroine wanted but what she needed. Add in how this book came at the perfect time of year when hurricanes are a literal threat for the geographic area (Florida but especially among the “Keys”) and you have the amazing bones of a book. However, I think they got lost in the details and timing of the books other events.

I don’t think Cabot can write a female character who doesn’t grow and teach the reader a life lesson or two. Who doesn’t love a girl who will drop a cushy life for the life that fills their heart and soul? Bree finding her passion was my absolute favorite part of this book. The ups and downs she had pursued her passion were especially appreciated as a lesson in perseverance and honestly just that even your passion has challenges.

Again, the bones and overall feel of the story was great. I just think some of the “excitement” was missing. It at the time felt like a forced slow burn. They’re also just wasn’t a good romance arc in the story. I felt like we were robbed of some of the rising tension. It also felt like Cabot was hesitant to let the adult characters loose a bit.

Overall I am so glad to have read the book, but it just wasn’t a complete winner.
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This is a delightful premise about a girl who gets stuck on an island during a storm while she's trying to restart her life. It would be great for people who enjoy the enemies to lovers storyline, rescue animals, and charming small towns as setting. I think this would make a fantastic movie!
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