Book Reviews

Deal-Breaker by Siri Caldwell at Brussels Sprout Press

Genre Lesbian / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by A.L. Brooks on 26-April-2016

Book Blurb

This was not the plan.

After a career-threatening injury, backup dancer Rae Peters crashes at a friend’s in a middle-of-nowhere college town to recover. She’d rather be onstage performing with a rock star than stuck in a swimming pool doing rehab exercises, but at least the people-watching is good. Make that person-watching, because she only pays attention to one person: the cute water aerobics instructor who’s always lugging around accounting textbooks like she might be smart.

Jori Burgess is a grad student with a young daughter and a blackmailing ex-boyfriend. She’s got her hands full being a single mother, and studying, and teaching at the pool, and pretending to be someone she’s not. The last thing she needs is one more complication, but Rae is one complication she can’t resist.

Rae has no trouble resisting, because she promised herself a long time ago that flirtatious straight girls were not for her. Even if they claimed they weren’t that straight. Especially if they claimed they weren’t that straight. Really, thank you, but no. She’s not going to fall for someone who’s got red flags plastered all over her very attractive…uh…personality.

Being friends, though? Being friends is not a problem, and neither is dancing together, and neither is holding on a little longer than is strictly appropriate, and neither is…

Yeah. This could be a problem.

Book Review

Siri Caldwell, a GCLS finalist in 2014 for her debut novel, ‘Angel’s Touch’, brings us a story of two women who are each claiming their own moral high ground in trying to avoid becoming involved with each other. But, of course, when it comes to matters of the heart, things are never quite so cut and dried. It’s a good concept, and it’s explored rather well in this novel.

Rae is a backup dancer for an up-and-coming pop star, Kaoli. They have known each other since school, and Rae has been secretly in love with her straight friend all this time. Jori is a single parent and refuses to place a label on her sexuality. The two women meet when Rae is badly injured in a fall and takes some recovery time at a yoga and spa retreat where Jori works. Although obviously attracted to each other, each of their circumstances causes the other to try to keep a distance. Rae refuses to get involved with someone who does not identify as 100 percent lesbian—a throwback to the hurt she feels her unrequited passion for Kaoli has inflicted on her. However, Rae has rather unwisely agreed to be Kaoli’s fake girlfriend so that Kaoli can garner yet more publicity for her burgeoning singing career. Jori thinks Rae and Kaoli are a genuine item, and refuses to get involved with someone who is already in a relationship, even though she thinks Kaoli is all wrong for Rae.

Most of the novel is written from Rae’s point of view, and Caldwell explores Rae’s hurt and pain in some depth. It is easy to understand her reluctance to get involved with Jori when we learn just how shallow and sometimes cruel Kaoli is, taking full advantage of the feelings she knows Rae has for her. Jori has also got herself into a tricky and damaging situation with someone equally shallow—her ex-boyfriend Axel, father of her child, and closeted gay man who will do anything to keep his true sexuality from his parents.

Rae and Jori are well-written, as both women are likeable, warm, and passionate. The chemistry between them is obvious and often sizzles. That they get together is inevitable, but their journey is not easy, and Caldwell manages this very well, pacing it just right. Both Kaoli and Axel are horrible characters, and as such are also crafted well by Caldwell. I snorted in disgust many times at their heartless antics, and willed the two main characters to pull themselves out of these soul-destroying situations. I thought there were a couple of stumbles in the storyline where it didn’t flow perfectly, but overall it was a pleasure to read, and I’m now curious to go back and read other works by this author.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 260 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-April-2016
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
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