Please Join Us

Catherine McKenzie

Atria Books

August 232rd, 2022

Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie delves into secret organizations, hidden agendas, and how someone can take back control over their life. 

“I received an email many years ago inviting me to a women’s networking group with different professions. I was told I was recommended by someone although they would not tell me who. I thought if I decided to do it everything would then be made clear to me. However, I did not keep that email. I did not go partly because my husband said it was crazy. Some of the professions are intricate to the plot.”

At thirty-nine, Nicole Mueller’s life is on the rocks. Her once brilliant law career is falling apart. She and her husband, Dan, 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 Dan’s concerns that the group might be a cult, Nicole signs up for their retreat in Colorado.

“The Leo Organization has CULT vibes. The women in charge of it use some of the techniques of a cult to control the others. They become all the people in Nicole’s life and discourage her to go outside the group.  They do the providing. They are manipulative, dominant, demand loyalty, and obedience.” 

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.

“Feminism is a theme.  There is still a long way to go with the old boys’ network. It is underground, but still there. They are less overt now.  I put in this quote, “If you need anything you come to this group.  To your Pride… women don’t need to fight for their dominance; they join willingly to achieve the best result for all.” This is the mantra of the book. There is a stereotype that women are competitive with each other.  This is because usually there is only one woman around the board table.  If another woman comes in, they are perceived as a rival. I do think men pit women against each other. Everyone is socialized to be super critical and observant of women’s behavior. I do not think women are cattier or more aggressive around other women.” 

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 must 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. Nicole questions if joining Panthera Leo was the biggest mistake of her life and wonders how to extricate herself from the group. 

Readers will be reminded of the problems women face at work, the Me-Too movement, networking, marriage, blending private and public lives, which are all part of this thriller. 



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.