Fool Me Once – Ashley Winstead

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Graydon House 
Pages: 368
Release Date: April 5, 2022

Lee Stone is a twenty-first-century woman: she kicks butt at her job as a communications director at a women-run electric car company (that’s better than Tesla, thank you) and after work she is “Stoner,” drinking guys under the table and never letting any of them get too comfortable in her bed…

That’s because Lee’s learned one big lesson: never trust men. After four major heartbreaks set her straight, from her father cheating on her mom all the way to Ben Laderman in grad school—who wasn’t actually cheating, but she could have sworn he was, so she reciprocated in kind.

Then Ben shows up five years later, working as a policy expert for the most liberal governor in Texas history, just as Lee is trying to get a clean energy bill rolling. Things get complicated—and competitive as Lee and Ben are forced to work together. Tension builds just as old sparks reignite, fanning the flames for a romantic dustup the size of Texas.


Fool Me Once is my first Ashley Winstead novel and it won’t be last!

Fool Me Once follows Lee Stone as she prepares to put everything on the line to try to get an environmentally friendly bill passed when she’s forced to work closely with her ex.

Lee is a difficult character to connect with because she’s jaded and closed off. Honestly, Lee is difficult to even like on a basic level sometines. As the novel progresses, readers discover the reasons Lee is so jaded. She’s quite unlikeable at times, but she’s so headstrong and confidant it’s difficult to not admire her. If you’re a Tarryn Fisher fan, I’d recommend Fool Me Once to readers who enjoyed The Opportunist.

Fool Me Once oozes emotion. There are a lot of unresolved emotions throughout the novel that drive the story. I particularly enjoyed Ben’s emotional scenes. They were gut wrenching and real. His frustration, heart break, and anger is palpable.

There are two reasons I rated Fool Me Once four stars instead of five. Firstly, for a romance novel it’s light on the romance. I wish Winstead would have spent more time focusing on Lee and Ben’s relationship. Their past relationship is so important to their present, but it doesn’t get enough page time.

Secondly, Lee’s emotional trauma is deep and embedded into her very being. So I found that the end of the novel wrapped up too quickly and too cleanly considering the drama and emotional damaged that was inflicted.

Overall, Fool Me Once surprised me. It’s a story about forgiveness, healing, and love wrapped in a story about saving the planet through politics.

*** I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 


Will you be reading Fool Me Once?

ASHLEY WINSTEAD is an academic turned novelist with a Ph.D. in contemporary American literature. She lives in Houston with her husband, two cats, and beloved wine fridge.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @AshleyWinstead
Instagram: @AshleyWinsteadBooks

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