Deal Breaker by Siri CaldwellDeal Breaker by Siri Caldwell is about Rae Peters, dancer for a superstar singer. She just had the worst career hiccup of her life – she snapped her leg in the middle of a performance. The tour moves on without her, leaving Rae to mend broken bones, and perhaps, find an opportunity to mend her heart. Jaded by a complicated relationship with the superstar singer she dances for, Rae isn’t looking for anything serious or emotional. While rehabilitating her leg at a health retreat, Rae soon meets Jori.

Jori is a water aerobics instructor at the retreat, and is also single mother with an unusual relationship with the father of her child. It’s a combination of this unusual relationship and Rae’s jaded heart that throws conflict between the rapidly developing feelings between the women.

The Characters

Rae, our lead character that suffers an unfortunate injury was brilliantly sarcastic. The kind of tongue-in-cheek narrative that reflects my every-day interactions with the world. Who doesn’t love a bit of sarcasm and gumption? Jori Burgess, the athletic water-aerobics coach that lives in shorts and sports tops, is a straight-talking, open-minded woman who was quite easily my favourite character in the novel. It was an effortless progression that these two women would find interest in each other…right up to the moment that labelling sexuality became an issue, however, that added its own thought-provoking drama and acted as an overarching theme throughout the story.

The secondary characters, Axel and Kaoli, were akin to two predators toying with their prey. Axel, the once-upon-a-time boyfriend of Jori and father of Jori’s child, was perfectly cowardly, shallow and selfish, and used Jori like a pawn on a chess board. Kaoli, the predator that treated Rae like a piece of bait, is a multi-faced woman whose actions are entirely self-serving. Kaoli has a heavy influence on Rae’s life, and clues about their past relationship develop throughout the story. Axel seemed purposely written to give the readers someone to dislike, and Kaoli was portrayed beautifully as a confused, manipulative woman that didn’t seem to have any clue about who she really was.

The Writing Style

We start with a bang, or in Rae’s case, a snap! Siri Caldwell had me hooked within a paragraph with the easy-flow narrative, the subtle humour and wit that makes the story pop. Listening to the story from Rae’s point of view was a delight, and when the focus shifted to other characters, you were immersed in their very differing personalities. Some were perfectly written as narcissistic manipulators that made me want to reach into the book and slap them, which I suspect was exactly what the author was intending.

The book doesn’t hang up in too many places, moving along at a suitable pace to keep me interested. Reading this book in various snatches of time, it was easy to pick up and move on from wherever I left off. The perfect book for those with limited grabs of time throughout the day.

The Pros

Siri Caldwell has some amazing turns of phrase that made me smile, laugh, or nod my head in respect of her phrasing. Seeing the story through Rae and Jori’s eyes was absorbing, especially considering how different both women looked at the subject of sexuality. Jori, a bisexual woman, was open to love who she loved, and Rae, burned by bi-curious women in the past, was stubborn-yet-justified by her inability to trust Jori.

Siri provided an insight to the battle of lesbianism and bisexuality that I haven’t read in a book before, and it was enlightening to see the different battles her characters faced. She explored themes from closeted homosexuality to those jaded by labels, from open and accepting hearts to manipulative ones. Every character brought something different to the table. The deeper into the book I read, the more I liked it.

The Cons

While the author hops into different characters throughout the book, I felt that we lingered a little too long in the minds of some, specifically Axel, and not long enough in the minds of others. I have to admit that I flicked through some of the narrative around the secondary characters because I wanted to read more about the developing relationship between Rae and Jori.

A few clumsy sentences made me stop and pondering what the author was trying to say, and several ambiguous pronouns had me pausing to figure out which character was doing what. Those editing stumbles are often my own deal-breaker, however, the story provided enough interest and moved on quickly enough for me to carry on reading, and ultimately write this review.

At the end of the book we’re left wondering what happened to Kaoli. One line would have tied her story off, and I suspect it would have been an interesting one-liner to boot.

The Conclusion

If you’re looking for something to fill in a few minutes here and there, then this book makes for a perfect travel companion or lunch-break read. The relationship build-up is satisfying, and the story offers enough interest around the dynamic subject of sexuality to leave the reader fulfilled. If you’re a reader that can forgive a few editing oversights, then this novel will provide you with an easy escape.

Excerpt from Deal Breaker by Siri Caldwell

Jori frowned as she replayed what she’d said: First I fall in love with a person for their personality. Then their body becomes interesting. She found Rae’s body interesting. Her eyes didn’t skim past her without noticing, like with all the other naked female bodies she saw in the locker room every day. That meant…‌oh no. That meant she was already attracted to her and well on her way toward…‌

When did this start? Well, she knew when it started. It started the first time she saw her, a small determined guest in the deep end of the pool, squeezed into two flotation belts so she wouldn’t sink, pushing herself to the point of exhaustion. All she’d been able to see was the tops of her shoulders and her head and her adorable stubby ponytail. It had been enough.

Rae finally took mercy on her and put distance between her and that doorframe, making her way across the floor with a slow, rocking gait that suggested she didn’t quite want to bend her knee, despite what she’d just done to the woodwork. That slight hesitation in her stride as her heels clicked on the wood floor did something to Jori’s gut. But then it got worse, because soon Rae was standing in front of her, closer than would normally have been comfortable if her nervous system hadn’t decided the boundaries of her personal space no longer existed.

Rae held her arms out in invitation‌—‌not to embrace, but to dance‌—‌and somehow it was too much.

When Jori didn’t respond, Rae dropped her arms to her side. “You really are straight, aren’t you?”

“What? Why?” Jori gave a startled twitch and almost laughed out loud at the disconnect between her own line of thought and Rae’s. What could she possibly have said that made Rae come to that ridiculous conclusion?

“You’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about what’s wrong with men.”

“Shouldn’t that make me not straight?”

“Not necessarily. I mean, for me, I prefer to spend my time thinking about women. Why should I care what men think of the opposite sex? I leave it to the straight women of the world to figure out what makes men tick.”

“Good point.”

Rae held out her arms again. Jori shook herself out of her decidedly not straight train of thought and reached for her. Rae positioned Jori in a standard dance hold, one arm curved around her shoulder, their free hands clasped. No tango legs, thank God. But just touching her, standing in each other’s space, was unnerving. And wonderful. And this time they were alone…‌ Jori jerked her gaze down at her arms and memorized the correct pose.

“So you’re not going to explain?”

Jori shook her head. They were in each other’s arms‌—‌sort of‌—‌and that made it hard to focus. Talking and dancing at the same time was turning out to be surprisingly tricky. Or maybe the real problem was that it was hard to do much of anything when the only thing that mattered was the caring, supportive pressure of Rae’s hand on her shoulder blade and the fact that she was standing close enough to kiss her.

But she had to reply. “I don’t believe in labels. I believe in being willing to love no matter what form love takes.” There were a lot of things she was less than honest about, but this wasn’t one of them. She never lied about the important stuff.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number:Deal Breaker by Siri Caldwell
  • Publisher: Brussel Sprouts Press

Siri Caldwell Online 

Note: I received a free review copy of Deal Breaker by Siri Caldwell. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

About the author

Lesbian romance writer. Gender-blind heart. Chocoholic. Love is more precious than gold. Share it around.