Book Review: Breaking Even

Nancy's Review of Breaking Even by Kathleen Kole

This review is part of Kathleen Kole's blog tour hosted by CLP Blog Tours.
Breaking EvenIn Kathleen Kole’s Breaking Even, Penelope Whittaker is in a stable relationship with her fiancé Ben. They have been together for many years, but have yet to actually tie the knot. Penelope’s life is predictable, even boring at times, until she meets Scott, a recently widowed dad, when she drops off her soon-to-be nephews at school one morning. He offers to help her when she discovers that she locked her keys in the car. To her surprise, Penelope is very attracted to Scott’s kindness, charm and good looks.

Soon after meeting Scott, Penelope meets up with Kris and Renee, the wives of her fiancé’s brothers and her soon-to-be sisters-in-law, to tell them about her encounter with Scott. Kris and Renee are Penelope’s best friends, so they immediately worry when she shows such an interest in a man other than Ben, despite Penelope’s dismissal of their concern. Ben’s brothers Grayson and Paul are soon aware of the Scott situation, but Ben remains clueless. All Ben knows is that Penelope is unhappy when she gets angry with him for no reason and blurts out that they are like an old married couple. She then changes her appearance to give her life more excitement and to attract Scott even more to her, whether she wants to admit that or not. Ben also tries to spice up their relationship, not realizing that Penelope’s changes are for Scott and not for Ben. Meanwhile, Kris becomes jealous of Penelope and her changes because Kris feels like she is stuck in a rut too, which causes tension between them. This story has a very tangled web of characters that all affect each other and influence each other’s decisions. They are constantly in each other’s business, making it difficult for Penelope to figure out how she really feels. Does she still want to be with Ben even though it is increasingly difficult to ignore her strong attraction to Scott? Will she actually cheat on Ben or break it off with him before anything happens with Scott? There are turning points in any relationship. For Penelope, meeting Scott is a turning point in her relationship with Ben and she can’t go back.

Breaking Even is a fun, fast read that will keep readers wondering who Penelope will choose. There are surprises along the way that add to the drama and to Penelope’s confusion. Kole has an engaging writing style that will keep readers’ interest throughout the story. The dynamic between Penelope, Kris and Renee is well written. It often seems like Kris and Renee treat Penelope like she is part of their family even though she isn’t technically married to Ben yet. They have a hard time adjusting to the fact that she might have feelings for someone else because that means that they could lose her. At times, Kris and Renee seem nosy and bossy, but that is their way of showing that they care about Penelope and her relationship with Ben. Kole depicts the misunderstandings and miscommunication that can happen in relationships and friendships very well. Breaking Even is a worthwhile read about love, friendship, family and the tough life decisions that everyone faces.  

Kathleen Kole has been writing since she was a child. Breaking Even is her first novel. When she isn’t writing, she loves spending time with her husband, her son and her dog. Kole’s next novel, Dollars to Donuts, will be published this summer. To learn more, please visit,, and
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