Book Review | Fool Me Once | Fern Michaels

The Burdens of Ugly Truths and a Mothers Sins. Book Review | Fool Me Once by Fern Michaels.

The Burdens of Ugly Truths and a Mothers Sins

Imagine if the Mother you thought died in childbirth - didn’t. Then she suddenly leaves you a large fortune, with an even larger cravat, what do you do?

 “Nothing, I don’t know. One minute I think I should do what she asked because “it’s the right thing to do.” Then the next minute I say, screw it, she did it, I’m not making it right for her.”
Olivia, Ch. 7, pg. 81, para. 2

Within the Leaves of Fool Me Once

Fern Michaels starts off the story by letting us all in on a very big secret. 

In the Prologue we meet Allison Matthews, Jill Davis and Gwen Nolan during their final year at Ole Miss. The three of them sweating in a little tea shop making plans to rob bearer bonds from the bank Allison works in and meeting again in 5 years to split the proceeds.

Their plan worked.

Five years later we meet up with Allison, having just given birth to her daughter and filing a hospital bed divorce with the cravat that she never wants to see her ex-husband Dennis or the child again.

34 years later... 

Pet photographer, Olivia Lowell is having one of those days when everything just doesn’t want to go right.

Her morning client, Cecil, was dumped off at her home by his lawyer/handler, and won’t stay still long enough for her to get a shot of the newly titled “Richest Dog in the United States”.

Her doorbell is ringing and so is her phone.

She answers the door to a lawyer, not Cecil’s, just as her second client of the day, Sasha, piddles on her carpet.

On the phone is Cecil’s lawyer, Jeff Bannerman, asking if Olivia can keep Cecil until the next morning.

The lawyer at the door has come to inform Olivia that her mother, whom she thought had died during childbirth, has passed away only a couple of weeks before and has left Olivia a vast fortune and mail-order empire.

“If what the attorney said was true, her whole life was a lie. A big, fat lie!”
Narrative, Ch. 2, pg. 27, para. 3

Stunned by the news that all this time she had a living mother and feeling betrayed by the beloved father who raised her, Olivia curls into a ball on the floor and cried.

But when Olivia hears the true story about her beginnings from her father, Dennis, they have a good cry together and she agrees to go see her mother's estate lawyer with him.

During that visit the estate lawyer hands her a note in which Allison tells all about the bank robbery and she asks Olivia to make things right by returning the money to the bank and locating Jill and Gwen to convince them to do the same.

Shaken by all the lies that have created the foundation of her existence, Olivia finds solace in her growing pack of Yorkies and discovers she no longer knows which one is Cecil.  

“I went to get a playmate for Cecil and ended up getting one for... for other reasons. Now I can’t tell them apart. Can you?”
Olivia Ch. 6, pg. 71, para. 8

With the assistance of Cecil’s lawyer, Jeff Bannerman, Olivia must make some very tough choices - Does she accept her mother's bequeath and the outrageous request? 

Can they figure out which Yorkie is the “Richest Dog in the United States”?

Sweet-Tea Rating for Fool Me Once: 
 Sugar Lumps

The Yorkies on the book cover were so adorable, I bought the book without looking at the blurb or skimming through the story first.

It will be a long time before I do that again.

The Cast: 

For a character who runs her own business, is in her 30’s and living on her own, I found Olivia Lowell a whiny, needy and almost irritating character.

Before I sound too harsh, I admire that she went through the inconveniences of doing “the right thing”, but she complained and cried about it throughout the story.

Jill and Gwen also surprised me. I would have thought that a couple of educated women, with a boat load of seed money would have done something rather enterprising. Turned out to be just the opposite.

Like those lottery winners you read about who go bankrupt within a couple of years of their windfall.

I really liked Dennis Lowell. To me, he is the character that is the glue for this story. His optimism, in part, is what kept me to the end of the story.

And… the dogs. I would have given the cast a much lower rating if it hadn’t of been for the dogs. Fern Michaels obviously is very familiar with canine cahoots. I was so entertained by their antics that this subplot, and Dennis’s optimism, kept me reading.

Character I would most like to share a Cuppa with:

I would love to sit down and share a cuppa with Dee Dee Pepper. I love her eccentric Doc Martin style and crazy reporter instincts. I think she would make a great feature heroine in her own novel.

“[arrived], on a bright red motor scooter that matched her flaming red hair, which in turn matched her freckled face.”
Narrative, Ch. 23, pg. 268, para. 2

Element Ratings for Fool Me Once

Story Flow: 

The premise of the story is a good one. Doesn’t everyone at one time or another dream of a great fortune landing in their laps?

However, I found for the most part the main story read slow.

The subplots of canine capers and Dennis’s tropical life kept the story a page turner for me. I wanted to know!

Nail Biting: 

Olivia and Jeff’s insta-love was a little much. 

If some stranger decided to stay the night on my sofa, without an invitation, I would not have just turned off the lights, gone to bed and cried myself to sleep. I would have called 911!

“Olivia, her vision blurred by tears, picked up the crystal candy dish that held her baby bracelet and heaved it at the lawyer before she turned around and marched out of the room. “Take your dog and go!
The four dogs defied him to get up. Bannerman knew he wasn’t going anywhere. He sighed, removed his jacket, and stretched out on the sofa, but not before he picked up the crystal candy dish, which miraculously had not broken, and the baby bracelet. He clutched it in his hand. He slept that way, his fist curled into a tight ball under the pillow. He’d think about all this in the morning.”
Narrative, Ch. 6, pg. 74, Para. 4 & 5

Bear with me here. 

Other than initially dropping Cecil off to have his photo taken, then calling to say he'll have “someone” pick Cecil up in the morning, this is really the first time Jeff Bannerman has a conversation with Olivia. 

Obviously, it didn’t go well. 

If he could move around enough to pick up a candy dish and baby bracelet, without the Yorkies hanging off of him with their teeth, surely he could have made his way to the door!

I just thought it was a creepy start.



“Jeff Bannerman was her destiny. She was almost sure of it.”
Narrative, Ch. 13, pg. 151 para, 6


Jeff’s eyes twinkled. “You know what else Olivia? If you married me, you will be married to Cecil’s handler. That would certainly solve our problems where he is concerned.”
Jeff Bannerman, Ch. 14, pg. 161, para. 1

I think between Olivia’s constant crying and Jeff’s need to be needed they can make their way into an odd sort of happily ever after.


Jeff Bannerman is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love that family is important to him and he talks about his mother as if she is the best of all women (as I think all son’s should!) He also in the end discovered his love for animals.

I like his work ethic and his capacity to empathize with the sorrows and pitfalls in other people's lives. This helps to make him a good lawyer.

But he is kinda creepy. 

He sleeps over when he is not invited, he has a bad case of Olivia insta-love, and he is always at her home when she is out of town. Something just isn’t right there.

Emotion Coaster: 

My emotions were a little all over the map with this one. 

I was caught up more with following the Cecil subplot, rather than the main story line. The antics of the dogs were so well described, I could actually see the mischief and laughed a lot.

The sudden flare of anger when Everly Cracker reared back his foot to kick one of the dogs was instant. A disgusting character that one, but he was an excellent villain for that subplot. 

The main plot was just an emotion ride swinging from disgust at Olivia crying over almost everything, to applauding the courage that Jill and Gwen found to tell their side of history. I was really happy those two received the ending they so richly deserved.

Hot-Tea Rating for Fool Me Once: 

I don’t recall any love scenes and couldn’t find one when I went back through the book. If it is in there it was a quickie. I think the heat between Olivia and Jeff was based more on the emotional highs and lows of the situations they were facing together.

The Last Drop:

My best friend turned me on to Fern Michaels books and I generally love them. I enjoy her in-depth characters, the witty dialogue and intriguing story lines.

This book was not one of those types of stories for me.

I don’t recommend this book, aside from the storyline regarding Cecil the Terrier, but I will heartily recommend others she has written.

What Other Reviewers had to Say: encourages you to check out other GoodReads user reviews for Fools Me Once by Fern Michaels

Other Books by Fern Michaels I Have Read With a Cuppa :

 Desperate Measures



Read the book review for Fool Me Once by Fern Michaels at