The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda @Graydon House @HarlequinDigital #review #blog #psychological #thriller

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.

The Favorite Daughter by [Rouda, Kaira]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.

Links: US US flag  here     UK British flag  here 


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

Kaira Rouda 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


Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda @KairaRouda @Graydon House @Harlequin #bookreview #psychologicalthriller

With quotes like “FABULOUS.” —B.A. Paris, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, it’s hardly surprising Best Day Ever has garnered well over 560 reviews on Amazon. With a 4.1 star rating which, for psychological thrillers is outstanding, this book is definitely one that will hit the top 10 Claire’s Best Books of 2019. You have to read it to fully appreciate how deliciously creepy it is. Addictive domestic suspense at its finest, I couldn’t put this book down.



Best Day Ever: A Riveting Psychological Thriller about the Perfect Marriage by [Rouda, Kaira]Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the vein of The Couple Next Door, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Book Links:


British flag UK: Here   US flag US: Here

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (September 19, 2017)
  • Publication Date: September 19, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Praise for Best Day Ever

“Highly entertaining and truly surprising!” —Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

Best Day Ever is a creepy, spine-tingling and utterly addictive tale of domestic suspense.” —Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, bestselling authors of The Good Widow


What an entertaining book! Each chapter is presented by the time of day, which can only have been a labour of love (or pain) for Mia Strom. Paul muses how lucky he is to have such perfect wife and two sons, and through his point of view we learn what a narcissist he is. Although this book is listed as a psychological thriller, I found myself swept along by the laugh-out-loud character of Paul Strom. Kaira Rouda has cleverly drawn a man who believes he is king of his own world, a man who has it all, and a man admired by his wife’s former colleagues at the ad agency since it would have gone down the tubes if not for his genius. In a word, Paul Strom is brilliance incarnate—in his own head. You either want to slap him or run and hide.

Lucky for Mia, Paul decides to take her to the Lakeside cottage for the weekend. Driving a Ford Flex, a car only an environmentalist like Paul would appreciate, they embark on a trip while playing his favourite playlist. His mind frolics around deliciously disgusting schemes and we see snippets of his life with Mia. I’m not sure I was frightened of him, more fascinated. But there are vicious underpinnings present as they take the long drive to the cottage, and his bigoted reflections are amusing if not concerning. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what he was about to do. Let’s face it, his beautiful wife is his to manipulate for an entire weekend. Imagine that! And since she’s unwell—lacking her usual oomph—this is going to be a relatively easy task. Or is it?

On the way, passive Mia suddenly announces that she would like to return to work now that their sons are back at school. But Paul is side-swiped by this plan he himself did not initiate, and experiences his first setback. Insisting it’s a small glitch that can easily be overcome, he decides to placate Mia, at least on the outside. His mind is never far away from obnoxious-ville and although astounded at her nerve, he must side step around everything he has meticulously planned. But Mia is not as submissive as he was hoping, demonstrating a few best-laid plans of her own. It’s these minor hiccups that throw Paul out of his comfort zone and we see him foundering briefly before righting himself. When he thinks he’s got it sussed—another surprise.

By the time they reach their summer cottage, Paul has lost it. I always get such a kick out of watching the abuser suffer, or a kick-ass woman getting revenge. But this isn’t quite that kind of book. Mia comes across as too pliant and the revenge too coincidental. It really threw me for a loop and I wondered how it was all going to play out. But when Buck, a handsome widower enters the scene, Paul experiences yet another malfunction. It’s these delays or hitches in Pauls tactics that had me hooked.

Kaira Rouda is an exceptional writer and someone I will be following in future. She has created a complex character around Paul Strom and a plot which is hard to forget. This makes BEST DAY EVER extremely high on my list of recommendations. One that will be added to my best ten books for 2019.

About the author:

An image posted by the author. Kaira 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


More books by Kaira Rouda:

Kaira Rouda