By: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: 9/19/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars +++
Best Books of 2017
Psychologically rich, Kaira Rouda's latest, BEST DAY EVER is one of the most satisfying and entertaining books I have read in 2017! 5 Stars +++ When I add (+s): my Top List for the year.
Kaira Rouda creates an unpredictable delicious unique domestic suspense at its finest. I predict BEST DAY EVER will be a blockbuster hit and prime for the wide screen. What goes on behind closed doors?
BEST DAY EVER, a Big Little Lies, but better. The author’s best work to date and this psychological domestic thriller sets itself apart from all the rest due to, a number of things which I will address in my review. (sorry for the length of the review, but have a lot to say).
There are so many psychological elements at play here (starting with the car ride). A weekend trip. The allure. A lake house. A dinner. The anticipation. Afterwards. The perfect set up. You will be dying to know what will happen next. Truly edge-of-your-seat.
I can envision Alexander Skarsgård (Paul) and Nichole Kidman (Mia) starring in the film. I want a front row seat. An ideal choice for BEST DAY EVER. Hint, someone! Will need to ponder the cast for Buck. (he needs to be hot and hunky)!
Skillful writing and execution tactics abound. The story takes place within a 24 hr. period. Tick Tock. There is not one moment of boredom. It is addictive and compelling.
The banter is to die for!
The author has outdone herself. Spine-tingling. Impending peril (not knowing what Paul will do next) creating intense tension, that propels this claustrophobic cat-and-mouse tale toward its hold your breath, gratifying conclusion.
Meet Paul and Mia Strom.
Mia was once a copywriter at an advertising agency when they met. She is from a wealthy family. Paul is an advertising executive and he thinks he is God. He thinks everyone worships him. It does not matter what he does wrong. He can put a spin on it. He has secrets.
He, of course, has taught his wife everything. (gag) Sex, love, fine food, travel. He is the sophisticated older man she pledged to love honor and obey. As most psychopaths, they do not respect women. They are a conquest. They seek them out. Put on the charm. Slowly turn on their dark side.
We hear from Paul, in Ohio and his plans to take his wife away for the weekend to their home on Lake Erie. It is a Friday afternoon and Paul feels some tension. He has made these plans and he wants nothing to go wrong. He appears charming and romantic. It will be the BEST DAY EVER.
They have not been away for a weekend together in more than a year. This day was going to be just for them and it was time to go. The phone rings causing a little delay.
They drop the kids off at the sitter’s house and then they are on their way. After all, he has loaded and syncing all his wife’s favorite songs. It will be a romantic weekend, with candles, wine, and a fabulous restaurant. Everything to set the mood. Nothing will stand in his way.
As for most of us, we are aware of any sort of relationship- when you are traveling, you have expectations of an upcoming trip. Emotions run high. She is thinking. He is thinking. Trying to read the other's mind. However, as the car winds its way to the lake, we soon get the feeling, Paul has a dark side.
However, we are not quite sure what is going on with Mia.
Of course, he does not like it when she wants to stop for a restroom break (God forbid) or stop at a bakery for croissants. However, he is in a flexible mood. He will throw her a bone or two. This once. Paul also talks about the neighbors and bad mouths them if they do not like him. He is all about appearances.
First, I knew nothing about this book going in, except the summary and the book trailer. At first glance, you think this will be another murder at the lake. Been there, done that. Think again. This book is nothing like anything I have read.
Not the blood and gore. It is the most dangerous of all. The mind. The thoughts. The suspense. The impending danger. The mystery. The intrigue and the dark humor. Character-driven.
You pretty much suspect early on Paul (husband) looks at life through rose-colored glasses. He thinks he can do no wrong. Everyone is beneath him and he can manipulate anyone to his advantage. What a jerk.
He is king of their castle and his queen needs to fall back in line. He is all about action, like a super hero. About achieving and success. Their family is superior. What is this talk about her going back to work? No way.
You have no clue what he has planned for the romantic weekend away at the lake without the boys. You know something is hidden in the car in the glove compartment, but you do not know what. It will be the BEST DAY EVER.
He has a lot riding on this weekend. More than you can imagine.
Paul is trying to make this a pleasant experience to smooth things over, or so it appears. We soon learn Mia has been sick. It annoys him when she eats healthy and controls their eating and dining habits. He appears to be trying, yet he does not like it when the conversation does not go his way.
Everything he is thinking is played out in the book. He continues to steer it in his direction. He demands control.
This is where the book excels in my opinion. I could not put this book down. If I had to, I was dying to get back to it. You know something has occurred and he is trying to make a good impression to get Mia back to his side. He wants to smooth things over for some reason.
He gets annoyed when she starts talking about her strawberries and garden at the lake. The guy Buck is their next door neighbor and his wife died. He helps look after her garden when they are away.
Of course, Paul does not like Buck. Mmmmm . .
The next thing which keeps the reader guessing. Mia does not seem like the meek and mild type with an overbearing controlling (Sleeping with the Enemy husband). She seems a little cocky. She is not argumentive, but yet she brings up topics which are uncomfortable for her husband.
It is a tug and pull; a little tit for tat, cat and mouse game. She appears calm and collected. What does she have on him? She keeps him on his toes.
She is intriguing. Mysterious. You do not know what is going through her mind at all. It is all coming from Paul’s viewpoint (which you soon find out, he is wacky). Love her character.
A modern-day psychopath.
Mia, on the other hand, does not seem too worried about what her husband has planned, and pretty much drives the night in a subtle way, much to her husband’s displeasure.
When Buck interrupts their alone time, throws dinner reservations late, and at dinner, appears the waiter hates him (because he is a pompous ass) and always looks at his wife, plus his wife seems to be looking at the window in a daze with a smile on her face. He is thrown off his game.
Could Mia have turned the tables on him? Mia knows much more than she has let on about her husband’s secrets and lies. She is the one who comes from money (parent’s wealthy) and they do not like him and never have.
How could he have not been paying attention? When did little Mia become so confident and bold? And what does she know? Has someone told her what is going on? He has many skeletons in his closet.
“This was supposed to be the best day ever, and now it is deteriorating, decaying like the memories of his childhood. “
Frantic, we see Paul’s world unraveling and spinning out of control. And the letter . . . . Priceless!!! I have never laughed so hard. Karma will bite you in the butt when you least expect.
WOW! It is hard to describe a book of this nature since you do not want to give anything away. You want to provide enough to encourage others, they “Must” read this book. From the cover, author, characters, plot – from the first page to the last (A complete package). I would not change a thing.
All the dirty secrets are revealed.
Rouda has created a character so evil with his banter and thoughts. I would put him next to any of the bad guys out there. One reviewer compared him to Joe in You and I agree. I think also Perry in Big Little Lies and Jack Behind Closed Doors. An utterly compelling journey through the darker side of the human psyche.
The things which go on in his head! Clever writing. Both creepy, and witty. Paul is psychotic, entitled, and a narcissist with a capital N! Rouda reminds me of Paul Cleave here. Another favorite author which uses a lot of dark humor mixed with the thoughts of his psychos.
As many of you read, my personal notes in my recent review of Emma in the Night— this topic is very relatable and one I have researched for years since my ex-husband was a narcissist. Most everything in this book is so realistic. I think Paul and my ex could be brothers. SCARY. If you meet someone too charming and too good-looking. RUN.
The author keeps you guessing all the way through the book. You want to savor each moment and not rush. What I did indeed enjoy (which I wish more authors would follow)- Kaira recaps the night and the events leading up to the night from Mia’s point of view at the end. A "behind the scenes."
During the reading, the author does not give anything away. As a reader, you think she is being manipulated by her husband. By providing all the final details, this balances the story for a satisfying conclusion.
Note: Kaira, if I see Paul around Palm Beach at the Breakers or shopping along Worth Avenue in his pink shirt with an older rich lady on his arm, will let you know. This could be a great follow-up book. Even better, he and Donald Trump have a lot in common, so I am sure Paul will worm his way into Mar-a-Lago. I can view his estate from my apartment window. Will keep you updated!
Seriously, this may be my favorite psychological/domestic thriller this year. Congrats. Can’t wait to see what’s next. You have found your groove. Give us more of this, please. (no pressure).
Have ordered the hardcover (to arrive today), and currently listening to the audiobook, narrated by Graham Halstead and Amy McFadden. Look forward to reading 2018 PLENTY TO GO AROUND. (sneak preview included).
If I have not convinced you yet. Readers, pre-order this now. The best psychological thriller of 2017! Fans of Mary Kubica, Fiona Barton, and B.A. Paris will enjoy.
A special thank you to Graydon House and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
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