Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“I’m allowed to like both. The hero and the bad guy.”
What I anticipate the most from a Jessica Peterson romance is the measure by which she chooses to focus on women’s challenges. It’s clear through her storytelling that she’s woman positive in that her romances feature the plight of women in our world. And she treats these issues without a heavy hand, which I appreciate. With her careful storytelling, she weaves these messages into the unfolding drama of her hero and heroine, and it is seamless and thoughtful.
In her recent release, The Dealmaker, we are treated to the world of banking, specifically buying and trading bonds/stocks. This world, if the cinema suggests, is a “man’s world,” and women struggle to fit themselves into this world. Her heroine, Nora, has moxie. Over time, she has learned to fashion herself into a palatable version of a tradesperson. She has learned to infiltrate this world from the inside out, and she’s ready for a promotion to effect change. On the day she believes she’s going to be promoted, she finds a new employee, Theo, aka The Bull, and she realizes her promotion is in jeopardy.
Theo has come from Manhattan where he has had great success in the world of banking. With the loss of his father, however, he has left Manhattan and returned home to South Carolina to care for his mother and three sisters. He is also a threat to Nora’s hard-earned promotion. Instantly, they know they are in competition for the same promotion which sets them in opposition to each other. Additionally, they are instantly attracted to each other.
As the story progresses, they create an issue through their feuding that puts a client relationship at risk. They must fly to Santa Barbara to cater to the client, and they become stranded due to weather with only the availability of one hotel room. It is there where they allow themselves to act on their attraction. When they leave Santa Barbara to return to Charleston a few days later, they are forever changed. However, will they be a temporary situation, or is forever in their sights? Even more, who will earn the promotion: the guy who needs it for his family or the woman who is ready to change the world of banking to make it a more female-positive space?
Jessica Peterson’s The Dealmaker is everything I adore about hate-to-love romances. You have a hero and heroine who are clearly at odds but can’t help but be drawn to each other. Their banter is quick and engaging, and you are drawn to them almost instantly. Nora is sharp, intelligent, and insightful. She’s learned to ‘handle’ the men around her. Theo is decided and caring. His story is interesting in that he lives in this world with a mask, much like Nora. When Nora is able to look past his carefully constructed persona, she finds Theo or Teddy’s gooey center. Through their stories, Peterson underscores the difficulty of families. She points to the want for people to belong somewhere especially when their own family isn’t a safe landing space.
Even more, through Nora’s characterization, she asks us to consider the ways that women can be excluded in certain industries unless they cater to the toxic masculinity of the workplace. She focuses further on the ways that women feel pressured to perform while pursuing marriage and motherhood. Oftentimes, this includes missing out on “something.” Through these discussions, The Dealmaker becomes an examination of the workplace with an admonishment for needed change.
I simply adore Jessica Peterson’s romances. They are always spicy, insightful, and compelling. Every turn of the page is a reminder of the way that fiction can challenge our thinking, even within the pages of romance.
In love and romance,