Click here to read reviewer Marie D. Jones's take on The Fidelity Files.
As far as everyone else knows, Jennifer Hunter works for an investment bank. It’s the perfect cover for her real job – the long hours, frequent travel, and high salary are believable for someone working at such a high-profile company. But in real life, Jennifer goes by the professional name “Ashlyn,” and she is a fidelity inspector - hired by concerned girlfriends and wives in order to determine whether their significant others are unfaithful to them. “Ashlyn” molds herself into the perfect woman for each of these men and conducts her inspections to determine if they have an “intent to cheat.”
No one in Jennifer’s life actually knows what her real job is. She believes they would be horrified – after all, part of her job involves breaking up marriages. But she enjoys her job, even with the unpleasant aspects that accompany it. As a result of it, though, she has been unable to pursue any sort of personal relationship of her own. Additionally, her secret identity is in danger of being exposed, and she doesn’t know who is behind it. As her carefully knit-together life begins to unravel, Jennifer isn’t sure whether she wants to bother saving “Ashlyn” or to let her rest in peace.
Jessica Brody deserves a lot of credit for The Fidelity Files. A main character who tests men to see whether or not they will cheat is unique and opens a lot of possibilities in terms of story. She keeps the plot fresh through her twists and turns, though there is a sense of dread hanging over the entire book. With all the secrets in Jennifer’s life, it’s clear that they will come out sooner or later, and that the results won’t be good.
Jennifer is a well-written and introspective character who recognizes the moral ambiguity of what she does. She convinces herself that testing these men is a good thing, though she also knows that she is breaking up marriages. Jennifer is smart and savvy; it’s clear why all these men find her so attractive (though it doesn’t hurt that she knows all their likes and dislikes beforehand). Brody does a wonderful job writing a sympathetic and intriguing character that the reader wants to get to know more.
One major potential problem with The Fidelity Files is the idea of the “fidelity inspections” themselves. It’s difficult to see how presenting a man with his “perfect” woman, according to the people who know him best, isn’t a form of entrapment. Jennifer confronts this more than once in the novel and has specific rules in order to ensure that she doesn’t lead the man, but it still is difficult to swallow. The reader must be able to suspend his or her sense of disbelief to really enjoy this book, because if they think about it too much, they may not like it.
The Fidelity Files is a unique novel that fans of chick lit will really enjoy. Jessica Brody injects some color and vitality into the genre with this great book; I can’t wait to see what she does in her new novel, Love Under Cover.