BLOG REVIEW: Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran

25y.o. private secretary accepts the unenviable job as the housekeeper 
of the house of England's most promising political statesman, 35y.o. Hero,
who had secluded himself since his wife's death more than 10 months ago.
What he thought was the perfect politician's marriage 
was a sham, after discovering his late wife's infidelity and insidious sabotaging of his political career in the past 4-5 years.  Heroine is invested in getting him out of his bedroom so she can search through his papers to find the evidence she's looking for to buy the freedom she's been seeking the last 8 years.
No matter how often he fires her.  Or does what he can to make her cease her efforts
 to get him to move past his bitterness and hopelessness.
Her defiance shakes him out of his emotional paralysis,
awakens his interests,
and stokes a new kind of fire.
Heroine, however, knows that any romance between them can only be temporary.
For there's too much at stake, including her life. Their class differences are too wide. And she doesn't think he'll ever forgive her for her deception. How can they ever breach the gap?

I haven't been impressed with all of Duran's books but this one did. It took me 6 days to finish it, reading bits and continuing the book in pieces. For a book to enthrall me every time I read only a bit of it at a time is a very good book indeed. What stood out the most for me was the characterization of Hero and heroine. There was a maturity about them, as we see from their POVs (point of views): in how they handled their problems and their attitude about life. Heroine tended to see hope, even when there's none. And to fight for her needs and wants, even when the odds look insurmountable. Hero was also mentally and emotionally strong  and was a political powerhouse. But the betrayal of his wife and colleagues shattered his own views about himself and others. His strength got transferred onto his present depression and fatalism. He stubbornly clung to his negative viewpoints, eschewing people and his career. The battle of wills between heroine and Hero was 1 of the focal points of the book.  Heroine was not going to be beaten down by his growling bitterness and negativity, no matter how much he tried to offend and push her buttons. She tried to get him to snap out of his hopelessness, while he tried to remind continually her of his social superiority to no avail. 

I loved how we not only see the inner strength of Hero and heroine but also watch their relationship change. Their fights exposed their minds and hearts to each other. They both secretly admired the other's talents and strengths. They both surpassed difficult childhoods to become successful in their endeavors. Hero's was much more public but he was staggered by how much more heroine went through than, humbling herself with jobs lower than the lifestyle she was used to growing up and surviving quite well on her own since she was 17. He actually envied her and was sometimes angered at how much better she actually was than he in handling life problems. I loved how her no-nonsense, practical and positive attitude motivated him to do better. She was impressed with his great mind and social consciousness in his political career, championing the needy and unfortunate. Yet he was the one awed by her strength of character. She didn't scare easily and confronted him when no one else dared to. She sparked him out of his numb emotional state of the past 10 months and discomfited him out of his safe zone. We can see him emotionally thawing through the book as she continued to chip at his walls. The writing made their relationship alive and interactive and engaging. I felt like I was there, witnessing them in person. 

Their romance unfolded in conjunction with Hero's emotional thawing. Heroine was immediately attracted to handsome and charismatic Hero. But it took Hero a while to see her attractiveness since he was so blinded by his emotional problems. Heroine was plain-looking and hadn't had any suitors. So, for Hero to see her as beautiful after getting to know her was sigh-worthy. He became so enthralled with her, baffled by how she had not been snatched up by another man. He genuinely came to like her and be captivated with her. The sexual chemistry showed it, as it increased as the book progressed. And their sex scenes were hot. He couldn't control himself around her. And, given his sexual history, it says a lot about how she affected him.

       ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details---------------

Hero's solid character had been evident since growing up in his dysfunctional family. His father may be a duke but he was a irresponsible and self-seeking. A drunken lecher who took advantage of the female household staff. His mother may be a duchess but she was a neglectful mother who didn't hide her infidelities from her young son Hero.  His familial experience made him long for the warm and loving families he read about and saw in paintings. It also made him resolve to be the opposite of his parents. Thus, he stayed a virgin until he got married at age 29 or 30. There were temptations before then but he didn't give in to them. He was faithful to his wife and he had no sexual interests until heroine. 

     ----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-------------------------------------------------------

There were some angsty moments in the book as well. I was a bit teary-eyed towards the end of the book. The moment that Hero found out that heroine deceived him was a turning point in the book. He displaced his rage and need for revenge at being betrayed by his wife and others on to heroine. It didn't matter that she had a justifiable (and good) reason for deceiving him. 

      ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details---------------

Heroine believed her life was in danger since she was choked & left for dead 8 years ago by a man that worked for her father, who was Hero's close political colleague. Her father's romance with her mother was a secret one for as long as she knew him, especially when he got married to another woman when heroine got older. She thought he was going to help her when her mother died when she was 17 but she was almost killed instead. Heroine had been on the run since then, using different names and changing locations and jobs when her father's henchman found her. She found via the letters of Hero's wife to her mother's lover that she left documents in Hero's house that incriminated her mother's lover of unjust dealings that would kill his political career if exposed. These are the papers heroine wants to find in Hero's possession and the reason she found worked as his household staff.

     ----------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-------------------------------------------------------

Hero became very black-and-white in his thinking about being lied to and deceived by a woman again.  He didn't want to hear the details. He just wanted heroine gone from his life.Heroine understood his stance and didn't manipulate him to change it. She knew she was in the wrong and she feared yet expected his consequent rejection. She knew their affair was limited as much as she hoped that he'd go beyond what was expected. So she left.  And she did so with documents that she thought were going to win her freedom but that Hero knew were forgeries. He basically left her out to dry without knowing what was at stake for her. He was so angry and vengeful at that time. He couldn't see past it. The more angsty moment came when he found out that she was imprisoned for blackmail. His realization of what she truly meant to him and who she was running away from as well as the danger she was in all came at the same time. That was another turning point in the book and the final turning point in their romance. It was after that event that I was convinced of their HEA(happy ever after). Hero and heroine showed such maturity and even more character growth through the book. Their being together after the misunderstandings, Hero's depression, and other trials soldered their HEA. It was a lovely feeling to have at the book's ending.

I definitely recommend this book.
5-star

4 comments:

  1. I loved your review so much !! The pictures really gave me a visualization and I absolutely cannot wait to read this book! :)
    Do these pictures come from any show, I'd like to watch it if it does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Minesha, glad the pics help. They come from a British tv series (it's on PBS if you reside in the US) called "Downtown Abbey". It's now on its 4th season but I think you can watch the older shows free online.

      Delete
  2. Great review! I loved this as well. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mary. Your review on goodreads was beautiful :)

      Delete