by T. Lynn Ocean

July 2005
ISBN: 0-312-33669-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Thomas Dunne Books

Disillusioned with her marriage and life in New York City, Carly Stone heads home to Charleston for some time with family and friends. A professional mediator, Carly does not enjoy conflict, but her husband’s infidelity cannot be ignored. It looks as though their marriage is over.

Once she is back home with her parents, Carly has to adapt to some other changes. Her grandmother, now suffering from occasional memory lapses, has come to live with her parents. It is very difficult to cope with the odd behavior and lack of recognition from her beloved grandmother, but there are still plenty of lucid moments. The biggest crisis on the horizon, however, is the threat to the family hardware business, which is a mainstay in Charleston life. A developer has purchased the land directly across from the hardware store, and one of the new tenants is a home-improvement mega-store.

Carly decides not to take this change without a fight. She uses every tool at her disposal to slow down the construction efforts, and tries to stop the development completely. While she is concentrating all of her efforts to help her family, her husband arrives for a reconciliation attempt, and she has to fight her attraction to one of the developer’s hunky workers.

It turns out that Trent is no lowly construction worker, but the son of the developer. Amused and then angered by her delaying tactics, Trent does not know what to think about Carly. When things get completely out of hand, and there is vandalism on the worksite, Trent and Carly must work together to get to the bottom of it all. And her husband, Robert? Well, there is a lot more to him than meets the eye.

Fool Me Once is a charming book about family dynamics, and more importantly, Carly’s maturity. The child she once was wants things to remain the same, but time marches on. It is interesting to watch how she grows into a confident, capable woman within the pages of the novel. While I certainly can recommend the book as an entertaining read, I do not agree with the publisher’s decision to release it as a hardcover novel. Surely this book would do much better in the mass-market audience. The pricetag is a little too steep given it’s light subject matter. Be on the lookout for Fool Me Once at the library, or when it hits the shelf as a paperback, and you will find a book well-worth the price.

Reviewed in January 2006 by Paula.

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