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Sep 27

Without Judgment by Aubrey Bondurant Review

5 SMOOCHES!

SYNOPSIS:

Do you know what I got for always being the good girl?  A cheating ex, fake friends, and now a scandal that has even my own father ashamed of me.

No one believes it isn’t me on the video.  My new bodyguard is no exception.  Mason is not only my brother’s best friend,
but my newly assigned babysitter who wishes he was anywhere but here.

He’s both hot and judgmental.  It’s a maddening combination that has me wanting to push all his buttons.

With his bad boy vibe, alpha demeanor and the way he calls me princess, I’m convinced my draw to him is madness. Until I learn under the tattoos and piercings there may be more than meets the eye. Turns out I may not be the only one fighting the attraction.

I’m determined not to be the helpless girl everyone thinks I am, even if it means taking drastic measures.

The question is whose side will Mason be on in the end?

REVIEW:

I have yet to pick up a book written by Aubrey Bondurant where I did not get completely wrapped up in her writing and the story. She writes truly captivating stories, ones that I didn’t want to put down—and that I was left still thinking about long after I did. She describes her writing style as adult contemporary erotic romantic comedy, but don’t mistake that for smutty fluff.  Regardless of what she calls her style, there is plenty of substance to her work and this author is a gifted storyteller. Her writing is thoroughly absorbing, it’s crisp and smart and engaging. She writes rich, multifaceted stories, blending heartfelt emotion with clever wit, endearing characters and off-the-charts sexiness. She ties all of those pieces together through a creative, inspired plot, and it always results in a win for me.

The third book in Bondurant’s Without series, Without Judgment is a big brother’s best friend romance. Readers of the previous two books will remember Avery, the sister of the hero, Trevor, from Without Regret. Some of the details of her story were teased in that book, and Without Judgment picks it up from there. After catching her fiancé cheating on her with her best friend right before their wedding, Avery ends their relationship. Unfortunately, she didn’t really know him as well as she thought she did, and his problems become hers in a media sensation. With her father’s mayoral race rocked by the scandal, Avery’s safety becomes an issue, and her brother calls in his best friend, Mason, a security expert. Mason makes some very wrong assumptions about Avery, and at the first glance of her, deems her nothing more than a beautiful, but spoiled debutante. I really loved Avery and how she surprised Mason at every turn. She was smarter than anyone gave her credit for, she was beautiful but sweet and thoughtful, and she was about as far from the vapid, self-absorbed princess he thought her to be. Mason, a Marine Corps veteran battling some serious demons, is just starting his security company, and he’s lucky that he was seriously hot because his maddeningly hot and cold, rough-around-the-edges, closed off demeanor left a bit to be desired.

Bondurant doesn’t shy away from difficult topics in her stories, and she tackles some here with fantastic success. I was as riveted to this story by the suspense plot as I was by the romance. This was no easy, love-at-first-sight happily ever after. Avery and Mason may have had a raw, physical attraction that burned hot between them, but the emotional side of their relationship was more of a slow-burn. One step forward, two steps back was definitely the pace that Avery and Mason took, and that constant push and pull between them, while heart-wrenching at times, did make the moments when they were on the same page more rewarding. Mason fought his attraction to her and any semblance of relationship every step of the way, often callously knocking the kindhearted Avery back over whatever imaginary line he thought she was crossing. He made some wildly inaccurate assumptions about her and her motives, and I loved how Avery put him in his place after each of those instances. They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and Bondurant employed the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder tactic well here. What I really loved most about this story, though, was Avery. While sometimes difficult to witness, I enjoyed watching her grow and mature through these trying circumstances, with no one seemingly on her side or who even truly believed her. Those scenes with her father were especially heartbreaking, and I loved how she got fed up and took matters into her own hands. I cheered this strong, clever, witty heroine on the whole way.

Without Judgment was a reminder to not judge a book by its cover, that there is always more to someone than meets the eye. With plenty of heart-tugging emotion, characters I cared deeply for and a romance hotter than the Texas blacktop in July, Bondurant gives readers a page-turner in Without Judgment that I simply didn’t want to end. This story pulled me in from the start and held me captive, furiously tap-tap-tapping my Kindle’s screen as I devoured this story. I’m sad that the series is over, but as always, I’m looking forward to what’s next from this incredibly talented author. Without Judgment by Aubrey Bondurant gets five smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo

 

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