Fool Me Once
By Catherine Bybee
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Reviewed by Janga
For divorce attorney Lori Copeland, there is no rest. She has not recovered from the divorce party celebrating Avery Grant’s amicable divorce and $5 million reward for her brief Alliance-arranged marriage when Samantha Harrison, owner of Alliance, an exclusive agency that offers marriage-for-hire services to an elite group of wealthy clients, phones with the news that Fedor Petrov, one of their clients, has committed suicide. Conscious of the coming media storm, Sam and Lori rush to the side of Fedor’s widow, Trina Mendez-Petrov.
Lori, who, in addition to taking care of the legal needs associated with Alliance marriages, is also in charge of helping divorcées transition from wife to ex, decides that a Mediterranean cruise is in order to get Trina away from relentless media coverage, much of it suggesting that she was responsible for her husband’s suicide. It seems wise to include Avery since a photo of her celebrating her divorce with a male stripper is also attracting attention. Lori invites Shannon Redding, former wife of Paul Wentworth, current governor of California, to round out the group. The women call themselves the First Wives Club.
The cruise has barely started when the women meet Reed Barlow. Handsome and charming, Reed is a big hit with them. The attraction between him and Lori is immediate and potent, but Lori, jaded from her years as a divorce lawyer and her own divorce, is cautious. Nevertheless, Reed wins her over and the two become lovers. Their affair continues once the cruise ends, and Lori is soon thinking about a pre-nup, a sure sign of how serious the relationship has become. The problem is that Reed is a private investigator hired to find dirt on one of the “First Wives.” Once Lori knows who he is, a DOA may be likelier than an HEA. Add a greedy Russian villain who is not above threatening Lori’s life and a sexy ultra-competent investigator known as Sasha whose allegiance is unknown, and things get complicated on multiple levels.
Catherine Bybee introduces the First Wives series, a spin-off of her popular Weekday Brides books, in Fool Me Once. Lori and her three clients are all women who for various reasons did not find an HEA in their first marriages. Bybee gives enough information about Avery, Trina, and Shannon to make readers eager for follow-up stories for these “first wives,” but the focus in this book is on Lori and Reed. Lori is less cynical than she thinks, and Reed’s heart is more vulnerable than he suspects. Some readers may find Reed’s deceit off-putting, but his conscience bothers him almost from the beginning. And he never uses the information that he finds through his contact with Lori.
If you liked the Weekday Brides, I predict that you will enjoy Fool Me Once. It offers the same combination of sophistication, sexy scenes, and suspense that characterized that series, and it requires the same suspension of disbelief. Weekday Brides fans will doubtless be pleased to see that characters from the earlier series appear in this book. A couple of visits to the familiar Tarzana house are also included. However, it looks as if readers may see some changes in Alliance in upcoming books.
Despite all the connections to the earlier series, this book can be appreciated without having read other books. I admit I prefer the heart and substance of the Most Likely To series, but Fool Me Once is an entertaining read. If you like contemporary romance set among the very wealthy, I think you will enjoy this book.