Music to Find the Angst


By Sidney Bell, author of BAD JUDGMENT

I’ll be honest—I’m the type to play it safe in life, which might be why I like so much risk and angst in my love stories. My new novel, BAD JUDGMENT, is the story of warm-hearted bodyguard Brogan Smith, who falls for his dangerous client’s assistant (and boyfriend!), the cagey Embry Ford. Both Brogan and Embry know it’s smarter to keep their distance, but that’s never as easy as it sounds, is it? Cue the dramatic overture!

However, since I’m the responsible sort, sometimes I needed a little musical help to get me in the mood for gun runners and forbidden love. Here are some songs that helped me get started:


Frederic Chopin: Nocturne in C Sharp Minor No. 20

Embry’s a complex guy. He’d like to believe he’s part robot, but under the surface, he’s a cyclone of feelings (so, so many feelings). Chopin’s Nocturne is simultaneously one of the most restrained and most deeply emotional pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Sometimes called the “Reminiscence Nocturne,” the piece is deeply melancholic, surprisingly sweet, and littered with occasional chords and rhythm that are unsettlingly dissonant. Like Embry, Chopin’s Nocturne is torn between clinging to the past and letting it fade.


Flume & Chet Faker: Drop the Game

I think of this song as Brogan’s theme because they’re such a perfect match. The music of “Drop the Game” is both warm and bold, but what really caught me are the unabashedly romantic lyrics. The singer doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to revealing his devotion and neither does Brogan. It can be terrifying to lay it all on the table like that, and this song captures both Brogan’s bravery in sharing his heart, and his desperate need to have Embry return the favor.

Sóley: I’ll Drown

This song serves as a sort of overall mood-setter. Sóley’s ability to layer elements into a coherent whole (and then sing in English, which isn’t her first language) always reminds me of the gears inside a clock. In the best novels, that’s how the plot works: a series of interconnected pieces coming together to build something bigger than the sum of its parts. Writing BAD JUDGMENT made me feel like a puppeteer trying to get everything into one place by the end. Only my readers can decide whether or not I managed it, but either way, this song got me excited to try.


Nina Simone: Wild is the Wind

And because Nina Simone played a tiny but emotional role in Embry’s backstory, no playlist for BAD JUDGMENT would be complete without a song of hers from Embry’s record collection.


So now it’s your turn. What songs get you in the mood for a dramatic love story?


lgcover.9781488020124Sidney Bell’s debut male/male romantic suspense Bad Judgment delivers an emotionally charged and adrenaline-packed story perfect for fans of Josh Lanyon’s Fair Game

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.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! Find out more at

Sidney Bell lives in the drizzly Pacific Northwest with her amazingly supportive husband. 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.

4 thoughts on “Music to Find the Angst”

  1. Connie Peckman says:

    I loved this article. I read Bad Judgment and loved it also. It is so much more than just a romance story. It’s a well written, exciting and involved story which has a romantic story within it. And now reading this about your music selections to it while you wrote, while eclectic in styles, totally fit the story and the characters. I am impressed. It seems to add to the whole depth of the characters. They became even more real to me. Thank you.

    1. Sidney Bell says:

      What a lovely comment! I had a lot of fun putting this list together, and I’m so happy you enjoyed my choices. You’re right–they are very eclectic! I’m also pleased you enjoyed the book, and thank you for taking the time to say so.

  2. Jolaine Laccitello says:

    I just finished reading your book Bad Judgement in one sitting. Thank you so much for a great read! I can honestly say it is one of the best books i have read in a long time.
    I was more than just a love story. The storyline was very riveting and I could not put the book down.
    Any chance the main characters will have a second book?
    I look forward to any and all of your further writing ventures.

  3. Monica says:

    I started BAD JUDGMENT Friday night and just finished it. Every moment I had free I couldn’t help but read it. I loved it and will probably read it again. I do that with the stories I really like. I hope to read more of your work. Loved the humor. I would love to see this as a series…. maybe Mario? Just sayin’ : )

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