Review By Kayleigh

This fast-paced and daring thriller kept me on the edge of my couch as I devoured this book.

Favourite Quote:

“I stared at my hands. My nails were chipped and ragged. Was I not polished enough? Was that why? I’ve never been big on personal grooming. That sounds bad. I’m a clean person, I dress well, and my shoulder-length chestnut hair is well-kept, but the extra primping that a lot of professional women seem to find the time to do? I’ve never had the patience for it.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

At thirty-nine, Nicole Muller’s life is on the rocks. Her once brilliant law career is falling apart. She and her husband are soon to be forced out of the apartment they love. After a warning from her firm’s senior partners, she receives an invitation from an exclusive women’s networking group, Panthera Leo. Membership is anonymous, but every member is a successful professional. It sounds like the perfect solution to help Nicole revive her career. So, despite her husband, Dan’s, concerns the group might be a cult, Nicole signs up for their retreat in Colorado.

Once there, she meets the other women who will make up her Pride. A CEO, an actress, a finance whiz, a congresswoman: Nicole can’t believe her luck. The founders of Panthera Leo are equally as impressive. They explain the group’s core philosophy: they’re a girl’s club in a boy’s club world.

Nicole is all in. And when she gets home, she soon sees dividends. Her new network quickly provides her with clients that help her relaunch her career, and a great new apartment too. The favors she has to provide in return seem benign. But then she’s called to the congresswoman’s apartment late at night where she’s pressed into helping her cover up a crime. And suddenly, Dan’s concerns that something more sinister is at play seem all too relevant. Can Nicole extricate herself from the group before it’s too late? Or will joining Panthera Leo be the biggest mistake of her life?

This may be my favourite Catherine Mckenzie read ever. Nicole is a lawyer hitting a professional and personal wall at the same time. When she receives an invitation to a secret and private women’s networking club that promises to make her life better than she can imagine, she can’t say no and soon finds herself struggling to keep up with a group of glamorous and highly successful women who will seemingly go to any end to help each other. Set between two timelines, the past and now, Nicole soon learns that there is no such thing as coincidences. I think Nicole will really appeal to many readers: she’s hardworking and determined to make a success for herself. When she hits the glass ceiling in her law career her frustration is palpable, and many people will sympathize with her feelings that her sacrifices and hours of extra work will never be enough to help her get to the next level in her career. She also feels really realistic in her life: she doesn’t have the perfect marriage but is trying (and Dan is so sweet), she’s realized that she’s lost a lot of friends because she can’t balance being a successful lawyer and have work life balance, and post pandemic she’s struggling to remember what makes her happy in life to begin with 

Please Join Us is grounded in the #MeToo movement and is a fascinating discourse around the pros and cons of women at any stage in their career taking the risk of coming forward to talk about harassment in the workplace. Please Join Us asks the question of how far does the judicial system go for victims to be able to gain any sort of recourse without damaging their own careers, and what happens if the victims take their desire for revenge into their own hands. It would have been easy for Catherine to take this book into a “all men are terrible” route, but she doesn’t and I think it makes the book stronger. The villains and heroes are more difficult to spot than that. 

I love secret societies in books and the society that Nicole ends up joining was so incredible. I feel like I’ve seen similar groups float around online and wouldn’t be surprised if groups like this actually existed. We see the entire story through Nicole’s eyes and her lawyer’s brain is fascinating to spend some time in, especially as she explores this women’s club. I really liked Nicole as a character and seeing her strategic brain in action as she tries to figure out what is happening in her new court case and the motives of the charismatic and powerful members of this new club she’s part of added a fabulous level of cat-and-mouse tension to this book. 

Please Join Us is a devious, female powered thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. 

Thank you Simon & Schuster for the ARC in return for an honest review.