I was so excited to find author Kaira Rouda had written another book. This was a wild ride I couldn’t pass up. A highly entertaining read with a character you hate to love.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (May 21, 2019)
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
Jane is an unreliable Orange County housewife, grieving over the loss of her daughter Mary who fell from a cliff while hiking. Trying hard to put her life back together again, she begins receiving anonymous letters from a witness claiming that Betsy may know something more than she’s letting on. Jane can’t help noticing a bond building between her daughter and her husband, and quickly steps in to redress the balance. After all, shouldn’t she be included? If her family’s life isn’t entirely stage-managed by her it will fall apart and never recover. Such are the intrigues of a narcissistic mind.
Mary’s memorial service looms — as does the high school graduation for Betsy — and Jane wants everything to be perfect. Her behaviour begins to diminish and just as I’m thinking she’ll touch rock bottom, up she bobs with something thoroughly distasteful. I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how far she would go and I had to know if she’d get away with it.
After months of sucking down anti-depressants, the rest of her family and friends have taken steps to rebuild their lives and they’re making plans of their own. But these plans aren’t Jane’s plans and this is where truth and illusion collide. The more she watches Betsy and David, the more conspiratorial she becomes. The entertainment here is in Jane’s rationalising. Her outward victory when things go her way and her inward denial when they don’t. It doesn’t matter how often she tries to engineer relationships, you never quite know if her family are entirely oblivious to these manoeuvrings or if they’re smart enough to outstep them. Because you’d have to be sharp to take Jane head on.
Slim and trim, she has convinced herself that her beauty is world-shattering. After all, the way she sees herself is how others see her. But in the same breath, she is governed by insecurities which add the extra layer we’ve all come to expect in Rouda novels. Jane can’t help but dive headlong into a battle of wits with her surviving daughter and husband and I was dying to see her plan revealed at the graduation. Betsy and David are hardly puppets, and this is where the fun begins. No matter how hard Jane tries to drive a wedge between them, the odds are never entirely in her favour. If at any time you think her polished veneer will crack, think again. Perception is the name of the game, and provided Jane can corral her family back to the fold, everything should go to plan.
My thoughts: These books are addictive and although Jane mirrors Paul in Best Day Ever, the storylines are distinctive enough to separate them. Towards the end, possibly the last four chapters were a little tedious for me. Too much reflection and not enough action. But we readers are Jane’s confidants, so I couldn’t have expecting anything less.
What will Rouda come up with next? A narcissistic child? Grandmother. Aunt. Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to it!
What readers are saying
Will hit you right in the heart” — Bustle
A PopSugar Best Book of Spring!
“An exceptional psychological thriller.” — Publishers Weekly STARRED review
“Leaves you wanting more.” — Liv Constantine, author of the national bestseller The Last Mrs. Parrish
“A smart, wickedly plotted psychological thriller brimming with dark surprises” — Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author
“Intense, creepy, and classic Rouda. A chilling story, told so well. Don’t miss it!” — J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author
“B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena fans will fall head over heels for this suspenseful psychological thriller set in an upscale Southern California community.” -PopSugar
“The Gone Girl-style domestic suspense novel follows Jane, a narcissistic perfectionist dealing with the death of her daughter.” — Washington Post
“Rouda’s portrayal of Jane is fabulously compelling and darkly hilarious…The resolution is satisfying, but the ride is so diabolically twisted and entertaining that readers will be sorry when it come to a stop.” -Shelf Awareness
“No one creates a narcissist like Rouda…. A wow read that will have you floored.” -Bookstr
From the author of Best Day Ever, another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
About the author
Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction that explores what goes on beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. Her domestic suspense novel BEST DAY EVER is a USA TODAY bestseller translated into more than eight languages. Her next novel, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, is out May 21, 2019.
She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.
If you’d like to host Kaira at your book club, in person or virtually, connect with the author, visit KairaRouda.com.