Meg Cabot has published scores of novels for adults and teens that deliver fast-paced fun, romance and comedy. With No Judgments, she begins a lively series for adults set in Little Bridge Island (pop. 4,700). This fictitious small town in the Florida Keys, 15 miles south of Miami, braces for Hurricane Marilyn, a Category Five storm.
The story is narrated by 25-year-old Sabrina "Bree" Beckham, a transplant from New York City. Following the death of her father, Bree dropped out of law school and suffered a harrowing assault by Kyle, the best friend of Bree's rich, jet-setting beau, Caleb. Caleb and even Bree's mother--Judge Justine, a famous lawyer with a popular call-in radio talk show--chalked up the actions of notorious alcoholic Kyle to his merely being "frisky."
Badly shaken and disappointed by her boyfriend and her mother discounting the magnitude of the event, Bree dyed her blonde hair pink, changed her name and set off for Little Bridge, once her family's favorite vacation spot. On the island, Bree works as a waitress at Mermaid's Cafe, a local hangout. She pursues her real passion, painting, while sharing an apartment with a friendly ER nurse and Gary, Bree's toothless, 20-pound, rescued tabby cat.
As the hurricane approaches, residents are urged to evacuate the island. However, when Lucy and Ed Hartwell, owners of the Mermaid, offer Bree and Gary refuge from the storm--their sturdy house has a generator--Bree jumps at the chance. This, despite the fact that Bree's constantly at odds with Drew Hartwell, Lucy and Ed's nephew. Sexy Drew, "with his lean six-foot frame, tousled dark hair, permanent deep-sea tan, and summer-sky blue eyes," was born and bred on Little Bridge. However, Bree is leery; he was very publicly dumped by his last girlfriend and seems as notorious a "player" as Caleb and his friends.
Still, Bree hunkers down with the Hartwells. As they ride out the raging, 170-mph winds, the attraction between Bree and Drew suddenly deepens. After the storm clears--leaving behind devastation, stranding those on the island and keeping out those who fled--Bree and Drew soon learn that many of the evacuees had no choice but to leave their pets behind. As they work together, Bree and Drew vow not to pass judgment on--or ask questions about--these pet owners. The couple devises a plan to seek out and care for abandoned pets starved for love, attention and food. In the process, romance blooms. Is Bree willing to risk her vulnerable heart all over again? And have the wrongs from the past really passed?
Cabot (The Boy Is Back) has a long, successful track record of writing entertaining stories that allow readers to escape from the realities of life by bringing levity, wit and a host of surprises and happy endings to the page. No Judgments is further testament to her appealing, winning style. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Shelf Talker: A heartbroken young woman hunkers down in the Florida Keys during a Category Five hurricane and goes on a quest to rescue stranded local pets.