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The Pre-Nup

The Pre-Nup

4.3 25
by Beth Kendrick

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All you need is love? For the residents of swanky Mayfair Estates, a pre-nup is just another item on the wedding to-do checklist—but three friends get more than they bargained for when they promise to love, cherish . . . and sign on the dotted line.Ellie married her handsome, wealthy Prince Charming when she was young, naive, and willing to sign a one-sided


All you need is love? For the residents of swanky Mayfair Estates, a pre-nup is just another item on the wedding to-do checklist—but three friends get more than they bargained for when they promise to love, cherish . . . and sign on the dotted line.Ellie married her handsome, wealthy Prince Charming when she was young, naive, and willing to sign a one-sided pre-nup in the name of true love. But seven years and one toddler later, her happily-ever-after has come screeching to a halt. If she can’t save her marriage, she’s determined to save her divorce, and she’s not about to let a lot of legalese stand in her way.When Jen married Eric, he knew she wasn’t head over heels. Still, he insisted that they were perfect together and even bankrolled her blossoming business. But when Jen’s career finally takes off, she realizes that she may lose her husband. If Eric leaves, Jen will lose everything—including the marriage she values more than she thought.Up-and-coming attorney Mara is sure her fiancé has forgiven her for a foolish one-night fling—until he adds a “cheating clause” to the pre-nup she had demanded. If he really trusts her, why the clause? And if she’s really trustworthy, why is she objecting? As romance collides with real life, three very different women turn to each other for moral support and insights about how to safeguard their most valuable assets: their hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kendrick (Nearlyweds; Exes and Ohs) centers her painfully formulaic latest tale of domestic woe on that most unromantic document: the prenuptial agreement. Stay-at-home mom Ellie Barton, a twinset and pearls type, thought her life and family (blonde, curly haired little girl and a Ken-doll old-money husband) were perfect-until she sees a racy e-mail intended for her husband. Ellie's marriage isn't the only one going down the tubes; her two witty girlfriends are having pre-nup issues of their own: Mara, a lawyer with commitment issues, is having trouble drafting her own pre-nup, while health nut entrepreneur Jen's pre-nup could cost her her darling startup company. When Ellie's husband throws some punches in the divorce arrangements, the ladies roll out some dirty tricks of their own. It hits the required bases, but that's about it. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"A smart, funny spin on happily-ever-after!"—Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets of a Shoe Addict

"Witty, juicy, and lots of fun! Say 'I do' to The Pre-Nup."—Susan Mallery, New York Times bestselling author of Sweet Trouble

"Exceptionally entertaining and wonderfully original… Kendrick writes with a wicked sense of humor and great wisdom."—Chicago Tribune

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Random House Publishing Group
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Chapter One


Another exciting, exhilarating extravaganza. And I am exhausted." Ellie Barton rubbed her eyes and smiled up at her husband as he held open the door between the garage and the house. "Smudged mascara never felt so good."

"You know you love organizing these black-tie shindigs." Michael smiled back and dropped a kiss onto her forehead. "Admit it."

"It is nice to get out of jeans and sneakers," Ellie admitted. "See a bit of the world beyond Gymboree and Tumbling Tots. Talk about something besides Curious George and imaginary friends named Moodle."

"And you're a natural at it. My mom says you're turning into quite the society queen."

"I don't know about that," Ellie demurred. Her voice was still hoarse from straining to be heard over the brass band. "But I'm learning from the master. Fund-raising is the toughest committee, but your mother can get blood from a stone and not spill a single drop on her Escada. I just scurry around and do her bidding and everything magically falls into place."

"Any excuse to buy more Escada," Michael translated.

"Be nice. It's all for a good cause." Ellie furrowed her brow. "Wait. What was tonight?"

"Heart disease." Michael loosened his bow tie and reached under his tuxedo sleeves to unfasten his cuff links. "Next week is domestic violence, and next month is cancer."

"Right." She paused to clear her throat. "You know, I was thinking, it's great that we organize these galas to raise money and awareness and all, but I'm sure the women's shelter could use some hands-on volunteers, too. Once Hannah starts preschool five days a week, I could commit to that."
Her husband dropped back a step and asked, "Commit to what?"

"Whatever they need. Administrative stuff, sorting out donations, childcare . . . I'd like to really get involved."

Michael picked up the pace as they rounded the corner from the side hallway to their home's foyer. "Sweetheart, believe me, getting the Mayfair Estates crowd sloshed enough to write a big stack of checks is by far the best way to help that shelter. Besides, you know how much business I get through these committee connections." He threw her a wink. "The mortgage's not going to pay itself."

Ellie glanced up at the massive, custom-made crystal chandelier Michael's mother had commissioned from an artisan in France. "Right. We're one step away from living in a refrigerator carton under the freeway." She extracted a small tube of hand sanitizer from her evening bag. "Could you pay the baby-sitter? I'm going to go check on Hannah."

"I'll check on Hannah. You relax." Michael steered her into the master suite. "And lay off the Purell, woman, before we have to sign you up for a twelve-step program."

"Go ahead, mock me. But it's the height of flu season, and some of those city councilmen we shook hands with? Not exactly the picture of personal hygiene."

He grinned and kissed her freshly disinfected fingertips. "Howard Hughes in high heels."

"Speaking of high heels . . ." Ellie made her way across the bedroom and into the huge, mirrored bathroom, where she collapsed onto a carved antique rosewood stool and kicked off her strappy stilettos. She curled her toes against the cool travertine floor. "Ahh. Sweet relief."

Michael met her gaze in the mirror and shook his head. "I will never understand why you insist on wearing those things to events where you're expected to be on your feet for five hours. Aren't you in pain?"

"A little," she admitted. "But they look good. And I need all the help I can get these days."

"You look beautiful," he said immediately, and, Ellie noticed, a bit absently.

Not that she blamed him. She knew she was guilty of the cardinal sin of their exclusive gated community: she'd let herself go. Not entirely, not all at once, but since giving birth to their daughter three years ago, she'd abandoned the strict exercise, makeup, and moisturizer regimen of her early twenties. She was just too busy to devote all day, every day to the pursuit of personal perfection. The first crinkles of crow's feet were encroaching at the corners of her eyes. Breast-feeding had taken an undeniable toll on her figure. And sometimes she would spend an entire morning running errands and shuttling her daughter between play groups before noticing a coffee stain on her cardigan.

Michael caught her frown in the mirror. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She stifled a small sigh. "Do you ever wish I'd get a little, you know, work done? Botox? Tummy tuck?"

"Don't start with that again." He rested his warm hands on her shoulders, then tugged at her zipper to peek at the label of her dress. "Size ten? Someone call Jenny Craig, stat!"

Her cheeks flushed. "Don't make fun of me! I'm the only double-digit-wearing woman under sixty in this whole neighborhood. Compared to all the second and third wives at the country club, I'm a—"

"You're a hell of a lot more interesting than the Stepford sorority," Michael assured her. "You're an original. First edition!"

"I don't want to be interesting. I want to be sexy and beguiling, and . . . God." She folded her arms on the bathroom counter and rested her chin on her hands. "I'm just so tired."

"Sweetheart, come on, you know you—Hang on." Michael broke off as a loud buzzing noise emanated from his tuxedo pants pocket. He extracted a small silver PDA, squinted down at the screen, then tapped at the keyboard. "Work. Hang on."

Ellie scrunched up her nose. "Again? How can anyone be thinking about real estate at this hour on a Friday night?"

"No one's thinking about real estate right now; they're thinking about the golf course where we're going to discuss the development deal tomorrow morning. We have to change our tee time." He placed the PDA on the bathroom counter next to her evening bag and returned his attention to her. "Now. Back to you. Where were we?"

She glowered at her own reflection. "I was bemoaning my lack of Stepford sultriness."

"Listen to me. You're the perfect wife. Especially when you're all charming like tonight, making small talk with the new investor about—who's that writer? Henry James?"

"Henry Fielding," Ellie corrected.

"See? Brilliant to boot. I rest my case." He emptied his pants pockets and peeled a pair of twenties from his engraved money clip. With his broad shoulders and dimpled smile, he was the epitome of tall, dark, and debonair.

Her scowl melted into a smile. "Did I ever tell you that you look like James Bond when you go black-tie?"

"Every time I break out this monkey suit. And that is why I married you. Sit tight, relax, and I'll drive Shannon home. Oh, as long as I'm out, I better fill up your car. Don't want you running out of gas tomorrow while you and Hannah hit the birthday party circuit."

Emboldened by his praise and loath to let a new dress and a professional hair-and-makeup job go to waste, Ellie sat up and blew him a kiss. "Maybe I'll take a nice hot bath and get warmed up for when you come home?"

His eyebrows shot up a fraction of an inch. "That's quite an offer. But I thought you were sleep-deprived?"

"Sleep is for the weak and the childless. That's why God invented caffeine. Besides, it's not every day a girl gets her chance with James Bond."

They heard footsteps in the hall, and Michael glanced down at his watch. "I should really get Shannon home. I promised her mom she'd be back by eleven. And listen, about the bath . . . hold that thought. Next weekend we'll leave Hannah with my mom and get a suite at the Fairmont. Order room service, get a massage . . ."

"It's a date." She quashed a twinge of disappointment.

"Baby, just wait 'til I get you alone. We are going to sleep all night long 'til we can't sleep no more." He jingled his car keys as he headed down the hall.

Ellie waited until she heard the door close, then shimmied out of her sequined black silk gown and turned on the faucet of the enormous jetted bathtub in the center of the room. She poured in some vanilla-scented bath oil, stripped off her bra and panties, and had one foot in the tub when Michael's PDA vibrated off the edge of the counter and onto the floor.

She was shocked he'd left it there. He prided himself on being accessible to his clients at all times. The tiny red light on the top of the screen was blinking insistently, so Ellie pulled her foot back out of the bathwater and minced across the room, hoping that the plastic casing hadn't cracked from the fall.

"You have one message waiting," the screen announced. Then an ominous exclamation point appeared. "URGENT!"

Her eyes widened. What if this was an emergency? A lot of Michael's clients had attended tonight's bash and most of them were as impatient as they were wealthy. She'd have to figure out how to get in touch with him right away. She clicked the scroll wheel.

To: mbarton007
From: Vixen_MD
You KNOW I'm always up for that. I'm wearing the red thong you gave me. Get over here and rip it off. Meet you in 5 minutes. Make me moan.

Ellie stood motionless for a full minute, blinking down at the screen until the letters blurred together into one mottled gray blob.

Make me moan.

This had to be a mistake. First of all, no one ever called Michael "Mick." He hated nicknames of any kind; even "Mike" was verboten.

Secondly . . . no. Just no. There was no way. Not Michael. Not her. System failure. Syntax error. Please reboot and download program again.

There were plenty of philandering husbands in Mayfair Estates, but Michael was the exception. Not that he'd never had the opportunity to cheat—she wasn't that naive—but he just wasn't that kind of guy. He loved his family, his work, and his golf clubs, in that order. He looked forward to their regular Sunday dinners with his parents and he called Ellie twice daily when he was out of town on business. Just last week, when he'd been in California on Valentine's Day, he'd had lilies delivered for her and a big stuffed penguin for Hannah.

But had he really been in California?

Ellie slowly raised her gaze to the mirror. She hardly recognized herself, trembling and naked, clutching the little silver square with both hands. Steam from the hot bathwater started to fog the reflection, but she could see angry pink lines lingering on her skin where her strapless bra and long, body-shaping underpants had cut into her flesh.

The words "red thong" flashed through her mind. Red thongs were for women totally devoid of insecurities and C-section scars. A red thong wouldn't hold in your stomach—it would emphasize your curves. Red thongs were for, well, vixens.

Vixen_MD. What the hell did that even mean, anyway?

And mbarton007? James Bond was Ellie's thing, a silly private joke they'd bandied about their marriage for years.

This was insane. Things like this only happened in movies and sudsy TV dramas. Vixens and red thongs were sordid subplots from someone else's life.

She took a deep breath and scrolled back through the message file to search for previous conversations between mbarton007 and Vixen_MD:

I'm so hot . . . Want you in the shower . . . I think I pulled something last night . . .

Finally, she couldn't bear to read any more. She placed the PDA back on the countertop where she'd found it. When she turned back to the mirror, she realized she'd forgotten to take off her diamond and emerald earrings.

Michael's mother had given Ellie the emeralds—the proverbial family jewels—on the night before her wedding, to welcome her to the Barton family. Her in-laws had treated her like a daughter since the moment she promised to love, cherish, and honor their son. Even though she was an Army brat with fashion sense that ran more toward secondhand stores than Saks, Michael's parents had never once insinuated that Ellie was anything less than their equal. They had opened the doors to Scottsdale society and made her feel secure in the cultured, cutthroat world in which Michael had grown up.

Ellie unclipped her earrings, stowed them carefully in their velvet box, and hurried toward the wall safe in the huge walk-in closet. Sealed inside these cold metal walls lay irrefutable proof that she and Michael and Hannah were a family: wills, passports, a copy of the lengthy pre-nuptial agreement she'd signed when she and Michael got engaged.

She spun the combination lock, opened the safe, and put the emerald earrings next to the
rectangular cases that contained the matching necklace and bracelet. Her pinky finger brushed the pre-nup and she snatched her hand away as if burned. Then she slammed the safe shut, turned off all the lights, and climbed into the bathtub, which by now was full to the brim. Vanilla-scented water sloshed over onto the slick marble tiles as she submerged herself up to her chin and listened to the overflow drain's steady, slurping gurgle.

She soaked for what felt like hours, staring into the dark, waiting for the familiar whirr of the garage door opening.

Chapter Two


So? What did he have to say for himself?" Jen Finnerty demanded the next morning as she, Ellie, and Mara Stroebel power-walked the three-mile circuit around the Mayfair Estates golf course. The rising sun was still cresting over the mountains, and the women had bundled up in windbreakers and sweatpants against the cool Arizona winter morning.

"Nothing." Ellie faltered in her stride and took off her baseball cap, revealing bloodshot eyes ringed with faint purple half-moons. Her thick brown hair was gathered into a sloppy ponytail and her cheeks were sunken and pale despite the chilly breeze. Jen had always considered Ellie the optimist among them—she exuded a wholesome, girl-next-door sweetness—but today she looked utterly defeated. "I didn't know what to do. I stayed in the tub until the water got cold, and then I got into bed. He came in an hour later, and I just lay there, pretending to be asleep. Then this morning . . . I think I'm in shock."

"That would explain why your shoes don't match," Mara agreed.

Ellie stared down at her feet. Her left foot sported a white Nike, while her right was laced into a red Saucony. "Oh. Oops."

Jen shot Mara a filthy look, then squeezed Ellie's elbow. "Of course you're in shock, honey. Of course. Hell, I'm in shock. You and Michael are—"

"The perfect couple," Ellie finished dully. "A match made in heaven."

Jen winced. "You guys did seem happy together."

"Oh, we're ecstatic. Except for when he sneaks out at eleven o'clock at night to rip a red thong off some cyberslut." Ellie shook her head and lifted her chin. "Look, we don't have to talk about this now. I know you guys are busy and I'm supposed to be hitting you up for help with the cancer benefit."

"Screw the benefit. We'll get to that later." Mara pulled her long, shiny platinum blond hair back into a ballerina's knot. Despite what she often described as her "stultifying" job as a trust and estate attorney, she always looked like she could be starring in a prime-time courtroom drama. Even in their college days, Mara had had an air of total certainty and self-possession—except when it came to men—and while Jen refused to be bossed around, Ellie wasn't always so resolute.

"This is a code red, all-hands-on-deck emergency," Mara declared. "So let's get down to business. What are you going to do?"

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Beth Kendrick is the author of four previous novels, including Nearlyweds and Fashionably Late. She also writes teen fiction as Beth Killian. She lives near Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, son, and an assortment of badly behaved dogs.

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Pre-Nup 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just 8 or so chapters in and I'm hooked! Pretty entertaining so far.... I plan to purchase more of her books in the future
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
The Pre-Nup by Beth Kendrick

I¿m going to start this by saying that I generally stay away from a lot of so called ¿chick-lit¿ because at my age they tend to talk down to me. I usually come away from those other books feeling very old. But there was something about this book that piqued my curiosity from the very first time I saw the cover and read the excerpt. I was not let down. This book did not talk down to me or my generation; as a matter of fact these three women Ellie, Jen and Mara seem ageless. We know they are young, yet Ms Kendrick never smacks you in the face with it. It was a lovely surprise. (94)

This book is filled with laughs, tears and a wonderful plot that proves revenge is of course is a dish best served cold. We find out that while some men are scum and deserve everything they get in life, not all men are and that we have to let go of our own insecurities and learn to trust the opposite sex. We can`t always paint men with the same brush. Be aware that you will laugh your socks off when meeting a heart of gold stripper named Bentlie/Alex, so try not to be drinking anything that will stain!

Have fun reading this, because that¿s what this book is all about; fun and the lighter side of reading.
bookloverfl12 More than 1 year ago
This book opens the conversation starter for "Would you sign a pre-nup?" This story presents different sides to the pre-nup and gives you a good idea of what one may experience - cheating clause, division of assets, etc. Never being in the situation regarding a pre-nup, this book opened up a thinking card for if and when the time comes, I go into it smart and not naive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
love2read2much More than 1 year ago
This was my first Beth Kendrick book...what a light, enjoyable, fast read. I loved it so much i 1)went to get more of her books and 2) have passed it along to my friends and they have all LOVED it too (my best friend could not put it down while lounging at the pool, read it in a day and got slightly sunburned). I could relate to the characters and the story line. You all HAVE to check it out.
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JFF More than 1 year ago
I have read two other books by this author and found them to be an enjoyable, light read but I struggled through this one. The characters weren't well developed, especially Ellie and Michael. Give another of her books a try, The Pre-Nup was not her best effort.
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24girl More than 1 year ago
Life should have been happily ever after for friends Ellie, Jen & Mara but sadly that wasn't the case.

Ellie had the picture perfect marriage to Michael complete with wealth, a 3-year old daughter and beloved in-laws. Late one night, Ellie picks up Michael's phone and sees an email that shakes her to the core. Her perfect marriage is a sham. Michael has been cheating on her and with a hot doctor no less. When the cards are on the table Michael tries to weasel out of his obligations by hiding his true net worth from the lawyers and claiming poverty. Ellie has to find a way to reveal the truth and secure her daughter's future.

Jen's marriage is just the opposite. Her husband Eric entered into their marriage knowing that Jen loved him but wasn't in love with him. As a wedding gift Eric bank rolled Jen's start up business with a stipulation in the pre-nup that if they divorce before their five year anniversary, Eric owns half the company and Jen has to pay back his investment. Now with the business on the brink of national success, Eric has realized that he was wrong into thinking he could make the marriage work and Jen is left wondering what's more important; success or her marriage?

Mara and Josh both agree that they're not going to divorce but they realize that protecting themselves with a pre-nup makes sense. But when Josh adds a "cheating clause" Mara is offended and ends the best relationship she's ever had. Will she get over the hurt? And if she knows she¿s not going to cheat, why did the clause bother her so much?

I absolutely loved The Pre-Nup. The characters were fully developed and well written. I couldn't help but become a part of their lives and wish that the book didn't end. Not only is the book about the marriages and relationships but it's about the lasting bonds of friendship. These girls truly do stick together through thick and thin and all the fun in between while keeping the door open to welcome a new friend.

This is the first book by Beth Kendrick that I've read but I'm sure that I'll go back and read her others. I recommend this book to all lovers of contemporary romance and chick-lit.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Mayfair Estates best friends Ellie Barton, Jen Finnerty and Mara Stroebel are having male issues. Ellie's spouse Michael who on the surface is the poster boy for the ideal husband and father appears to be having a red hot affair. Eric loves Jen, but is thinking of dumping her because he believes she no longer reciprocates his feelings. Mara and her fiancé Josh seem to fight over every little thing starting with the critical prenuptial agreement.

Each of the three amigas is upset with their so called significant other. However, instead of weakening in their resolve, the trio gains strength through their deepening friendship. They abide by Dumas¿s mantra ¿as one for all and all for one¿ has meaning to the threesome with being there for one another regardless of the male relationship outcome.

Rotating points of view shows the perspectives of each of the women including how they perceive themselves and fascinatingly their two other best friends. The men in their lives come across much thinner as for the most part the life in these males is seen predominately through the eyes of their significant other. Thus the reader never fully sees the viewpoints of Michael, Eric or Josh. Fans of sisterhood contemporary romances will enjoy following the escapades of the three Mayfair Estates musketeers as the buddies navigate the shark infested relationship waters.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads around
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where's Timeclan at cauze i'll help advertize if small
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"And your point is?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My powers r climbing healing poisening and hovering. I am bringing Tiny with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wave our old leader is back and he wants us to separate again. All who are in or wish to join the tribe of shining sands go to desert storm res 1. (This is not my choice he is still leader). BYE-Cave &9181