Cover Image: Please Join Us

Please Join Us

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Member Reviews

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Catherine McKenzie, and Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When granted the chance to read Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, I eagerly reached for the ARC. McKenzie weaves a great story that impacts the reader from the opening pages and grips them throughout the reading experience. Able to create a stellar read in a standalone thriller, Catherine McKenzie is one author worth noting for those who have yet to discover her magic. Happy to see she successfully penned Book #13!

Nicole Mueller has come to a crossroads in her life, with a career that seems not to be moving forward and a marriage that is not as exciting as it had once been. As she debates her options, the thirty-nine year old begins to realise that she desperately needs a change, which may be coming sooner, as her law firm is tightening its belt.

Nicole receives a cryptic email about Panthera Leo and how they would like to recruit her to join. They promise a great deal of success and connections, as long as she agrees to attend a retreat in rural Colorado. While Nicole’s husband, Dan, thinks that it is all a cult, Nicole is intrigued and agrees to attend. Nicole can only hope of opening new doors for her professional and personal lives with this weekend away.

After returning from Colorado, Nicole feels a sense of closeness with her ’pride’ the others in the group who attended the weekend. She hopes that her return to New York will be fruitful and that she can reap the benefits. As things begin to fall into place, Nicole has high hopes for Panthera Leo, though her questions are constantly shot down. All she must remember is never to decline an offer made or a request to assist others in the pride.

When one of the other pride members calls for assistance, Nicole is quick to head over. However, the legality of what is going on leaves her wondering if she might have made a poor decision. Nicole wants out and will take her old life once more, provided she can find a means of escape. As in the wild, leaving the pride is not that simple and could be a matter of life or death. McKenzie pens another great thriller sure to impress the attentive reader. 

I have long come to enjoy the work of Catherine McKenzie, who is able to cobble together some great storytelling in a standalone thriller. She’s on point and keeps the reader engaged, while tackling some issues of the day in a flawless manner. Her narrative flows well and keeps the story moving along, with great plot twists throughout. I’m eager to keep reading anything she has to offer.

Catherine McKenzie has a way with her storytelling that helps keep the reader involved in the story. This could have something to do with her strong narrative, which takes the reader on quite the journey, or even with well-developed characters that popular many of the pages of the book. McKenzie’s able to use strong plot twists throughout to keep the reader from being able to predict the outcome, while offering teasers throughout. Perhaps one thing that did not mesh well with me in the narrative was how Nicole would commonly list things she had done, “called Dan, checked the dry-cleaning, ordered dinner” rather than letting the narrative explore them. With hyphens to denote the actual list nature of this in the story, it appeared McKenzie wanted to clip the word count or keep from having to develop these acts, some of which were non-essential to the larger plot. Other than that, I was fully engaged with the story and could not have asked for more.

Kudos, Madam McKenzie, for another great novel. I am eager to see what else you have coming, as your books always put me in a wonderful mindset.
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I’ve been a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie, so I was fully expecting to enjoy this.  And I did appreciate the premise of a need for a “women’s club” to counteract the old boys’ club that helps men get ahead in their careers.  But from the get go, this one felt off.  
Nicole is a hard working lawyer who isn’t being rewarded as she believes she should be.  So, when she gets an invitation to join Panthera Leo, she jumps at the invitation.  The premise is that this pride of Lionesses will do anything for each other, no questions asked.  The story is told from a then and now timeframe.   We see Nicole go through the retreat, with its initial tests and challenges.  Present day, she’s called to the apartment of one of the Pride members, where there’s a dead body.  
I didn’t care for Nicole.  Initially she seemed too wishy washy and insecure, although she finally grew a backbone. But she never comes across as having any depth.  And the other characters are totally two dimensional.   I also didn’t find the plot at all believable.  Small things at first, like how the women have so much time to get together and then the plot goes totally OTT.  This was so unbelievable as to become groan worthy.  
The book covers the idea that everything comes with a price.  It also covers sexual harassment and #metoo, but not from a good side/bad side perspective.   
The writing style here is also a little weird.  Mackenzie repeatedly uses lists to rehash what has gone before and to rush the plot along.   
My thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.
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PLEASE JOIN US is a psychological thriller about Nicole, a lawyer on the brink of a failing career, she receives an email invitation to an exclusive networking group called Panthera Leo.

Panthera Leo is like a corporate boys club type cult but for women. Comprised of Congresswomen, CEOs, money managers and the likes Nicole things is the perfect solution in getting her career back on track. 

But all good things come with a price. 

Nicole slowly starts to uncover that PL is not all what it seems as each favor comes with more strings attached. 

It’s been a while since I read a psychological thriller and this one was a great book to come back to. The characters were a perfect mixture of mystery and depth. I do wish there was more of a storyline about Nicole and Dan but their relationship was not essential to the story. 

The ending gave me that OH SHIT feeling in my gut that I love so much with reading psychological thrillers. I’m looking forward to reading more of McKenzie’s work! 

Thank you NetGalley and Atria for the copy of this book!
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Wow this is a wild ride! A secret society, high-powered coverups, lies upon's hard to know what will happen next. I did enjoy this book and it's a compulsive read but I found it hard to follow in points. There is just so much going on and so many characters hiding wild secrets. This was a fun read though and I was really invested in the ending. Catherine McKenzie never fails to keep you interested until the last page.

Thank you to Catherine McKenzie, Atria Books, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Nicole received an email invite to a very secretive women's networking club called Panthera Leo, right at the point when she feels both her personal and professional life is at stake. Though she’s not clear about this club, she decides to go for this retreat. Once she’s here, it more and more seems like a cult but with the presence of very famous people in the club she decides to stay and complete the tasks. Once she is back home, things start to look good, all due to the help from Panthera Leo. But things seem a bit too rosy so she starts wondering if there is any downside. The club initially starts off to fight the manipulators and basically all boys' clubs and help women in corporate and other fields as well but there's always a sinister feel about it and then Nicole lets herself be sucked into more and more promises which she cannot and doesn’t want to even fulfill. Nicole, as a lawyer, definitely wants to find out the true purpose of this club which is a group of really powerful women and the motive behind all the orders from them. So she’s all set to resolve this mystery and things get murkier.

This is more of a mystery for me than a thriller but it started off with more about women empowerment and that definitely is something I strongly believe in and there were so many advices from this group of people that is really relevant but once it started to move more towards a cult kind of thing, the suspense and mystery part kicked off. At the end, we get to know whether she can play the game or she just gets played by the rest of the club. I liked some of the twists but I did expect most of them and it was a fast-paced book that helped me stay hooked all the way.
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Yikes! Twisted plot…lies…deception…this one has it all! Loved the way this story unfolded. I wasn’t sure what direction it would take, but WOW, it was good!
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Please Join Us is an engaging, twisty thriller! Catherine McKenzie is an author to watch out for. What happens when something that seems to good to be true actually is? In Please Join Us, Nicole's life is falling apart and career is failing. But that's when she gets an invite to a secret organization - it's an all-women networking group. And everyone in the group is super successful, so Nicole wants to join and revive her career. Her husband suspects it's a cult. Things work out for a while until one of the other group member's needs some help in return covering up a crime. Can she get out now before things get worse? This is a fun slow-burn with an excellent payoff! Highly recommended to readers who enjoy twisty thrillers.
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Loved it and would rate the book 4.5 stars. Catherine McKenzie is one of my favorite authors. It started in 2013 when I found Forgotten in the library. Her books never disappoint and there's always some type of twist I never see coming. The moment Nicole got that email inviting her to join Panthera Leo, she should have deleted it. There's no way I would spend $5000 to go to some retreat that seemed more like the type of place Dr. Phil always sends all those out of control teens. It was not luxurious. Red flags should have been waving in front of Nicole's face. From the start I knew there was a reason everyone was picked and it wasn't for something good. They wanted something but I wasn't sure what they were up to. There were so many twists and turns. The tests, they were crazy!!! How much time do these people have to come up with all this stuff??? Too much time and way too much money.

Definitely recommend the book. It was a great mystery/thriller. Loved the characters, writing style and story. Look forward to reading more books by the author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Wow, what a smart, twisty thriller this was!!!

This started out at an average pace, slowly building the story, setting the background for Nicole and Dan while showing what she was currently dealing with.  As the story progresses, I slowly begin to see fissures in her life, some due to her own personality and others due to the circumstances she’s living with.  It was about half way through before things really began to pick up.  

I appreciated the fact that this author placed this story in a relevant time and with issues that are very real to our world today.  I never really felt a deep connection to Nicole, although interestingly enough I did to Dan.  I’m not sure how much the lack of connection affected my overall reaction to the story.  I never disliked her or found myself judging her for her actions or reactions.  Instead, I was just so darn curious to find out what this group was about, how it was going to affect her and where all the turns were going to take me in the end.

This was not a fast paced thriller that’s like a roller coaster.  Instead it was like walking through a maze that has little hints to show you the way and then a surprise when it was the wrong turn.This jumps back and forth from present time to the past but those time leaps were well noted so I had no confusion where I was in the story.  The overall story had a feel unlike anything I’ve read before and I find myself continuing to soak it in.
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A thriller designed to make you question what you think you know and who can really be trusted.

Nicole is on the path to partner at work, but she has hit a roadblock. Looking for a way to save her career, she responds to an email promoting a secret and elite  women’s group that works to help its members achieve the successes they deserve in the “boy’s club” world.

This book will leave you guessing at every turn. What is real versus fake? Who is safe to turn to, and who is out to ruin you?

Thank you to NetGalley for the digital advanced reader copy.
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Please Join Us was another thriller that I really enjoyed. It jumps between timelines to eventually come together and tell the whole story.

Nicole, a lawyer who's career is seemingly falling apart, recieves an e-mail for an invite only, all women's networking retreat and she accepts. She's willing to try anything to get back on track, and why not do it with a bunch of other powerful women? 

Things start to become questionable at the retreat quite quickly but no one is willing to answer those questions. So, Nicole starts to dig and what she finds isn't what she thought she signed up for...

Please Join Us was so good! Catherine's way of writing is intense and keeps your curiosity peaked. I found myself rooting for Nicole the whole time, wanting her to get what she deserves. The premise of women sticking together to help each other prosper is a wonderful concept for a story, one I have not read of yet. The twists are shocking and make it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a dramatic thriller!

Thank you NetGalley & Atria Books for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Wonderfully unsettling.

Breaking into male dominated fields is hard, but Nicole Mueller has been mysteriously invited into a secret organization that will open doors, Panthera Leo.

Officially this group is an exclusive women's only networking group. Nicole's partner thinks things sound a bit too much like a cult, but she is sold on the idea after a retreat in wild Colorado.

After returning home Nicole sees her membership is benifing business in a big way. She also finds out quickly that high profile clients and associates can also mean high stakes, and high crime, situations.
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Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie follows lawyer Nicole as she has just been denied a promotion from the points committee.  She is blindsided as she thought this was a sure-thing, but it appears to be another case of "the boy's club."  Coincidentally, Nicole receives an email to join an exclusive women's networking group for career growth.  Her job is spiraling, her relationship is spiraling, her home is at risk of being lost... Nicole sees this as the opportunity she needs to get back on track.

After a week at a retreat for Panthera Leo, Nicole realizes the benefit of joining the group; she gets new clients, new cases, a new apartment, and new friends.... but everything comes with a price.  The deeper Nicole gets, the more she tries to uncover between the ties of the group.  Can she stay a member if she doesn't agree with their philosophy?  Can she get out?

It is no surprise that I loved this book as I've loved all of Catherine McKenzie's books!  There is always a surprise ending that I didn't see coming which cements the psychological thriller status for me!

Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I received an electronic ARC via NetGalley.

My favorite part of this story was the relationship between Nicole, Dan, Katherine and Louise. The rest of the story was confusing, and hard to follow for me.
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Nicole Mueller's life appears to be deteriorating when it appears her job as a lawyer is on the line. She doesn't hesitate to accept when she receives a mysterious email with an invitation from an exclusive networking group for women called Panthera Leo. It sounds like the perfect way to give her life a boost.  The co-owners and other members seem amazing. When she returns from the initiation retreat things seem like things might be too good to be true when she receives a call in the middle of the night from one of the members to help cover up a crime. Nicole might be in too deep. 

I found this to be a quick read about women empowerment with a slice of mystery as the main character begins searching for clues and answers about the mysterious Panthera Leo group. The story was complex, suspenseful and the pacing was good. I loved the strong female characters in this book too. Overall a pretty solid read.
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What an incredible and thrilling book Catherine McKenzie has written with Please Join Us. Within its pages is a main character to whom many, if not all, women can relate. A woman who works so hard and sacrifices so much just to have a mere chance at the advantages the men around her get as par for the course.
The concept of a networking group for women that can provide services and advantages akin to those members of the proverbial "old boys' club" take for granted is a draw for Nicole and the female reader. Her willingness to ignore certain warning signs about the group in a bid to further her career and standing within her profession is understandable, as is her desire to feel included and not alone.
When things turn sinister, Nicole is forced to rise above her many, sudden problems, and the manner in which she does so keeps the reader turning the pages until the very end.
McKenzie has written a fast-paced, riveting novel that kept me up much too late reading. It is an excellent book that I highly recommend.
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A great psychological thriller that had lots of twists and turns and an ending I did not see coming.  I found the book to be a quick read and the writing style was well done. A few lulls in the book but overall great story telling.  I found it hard to like any of the characters , they all were pretty sinister in their own ways which is good in this style of book.  I would recommend this book to friends and family and my book clubs I think it would be great for discussion. 

I voluntarily received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and all opinions are my own
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The secrets, the twisting turns and dark suspense had me on the edge, and guessing wrong to the surprising end!
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BOOK REVIEW- ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Thoughts: Thank you to @netgalley, @catherinemckenzieauthor, and @atriabooks for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! When I first read the synopsis of this one, I was like "you had me at potential cult"! Yet, this one was so much more then that! I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could to unravel just what Panthers Leo was all about. I found myself engaged and invested in our characters and the story. I wasn't expecting the twist and was satisfied with how the book ended! I don't want to say much more but I do think this book needs to be on your TBR! This one is out on 8/23/22! ✨
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Women led cult / fight the man / wilderness / high society.

I immediately knew this book was for me - the cult x female empowerment angle just screamed at me. Nicole is a successful lawyer in New York City, but she finds her life teetering on a precipice. She could lose everything. She is considering how her future is going to play out when she receives a fateful invitation from a networking event by Pantera Leo. Nicole hops on a plane to Colorado for this networking event for high-performing women. Nicole gets swept up in the prestige and mystery of the group.

I liked the character of Nicole, coming from a successful school experience and “hustle” to reach the top of her career and not settle for less. She is wrapped up in the prestige and what she thought would make her happy. Once joining Pantera Leo she begins to look at her life differently. She begins to align herself with these powerful women and wants to stop playing into the Old Boys Club mentality in corporate America. Soon Nicole is enmeshed in the group, doing favours for her fellow members, and reaping the benefits herself. Until one night, Nicole is asked to do the unthinkable for one of her fellow members. She begins to question the motives behind the group.

The only negative I have of this book is her relationship with her husband Dan was brought up multiple times as a potential “settling” point in her life and a potential unhappiness. This wasn’t really a focus in the book, and Dan ends up being a huge support and vital part of the end of the book. I wish this was flushed out a bit more internally potentially by Nicole.

Overall a pleasant read and unique take on the 21st century cults.
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