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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda @GraydonHouse @harlequinbooks @kairarouda

Best Day Ever
by Kaira Rouda
Graydon House / Harlequin

🔥 Happy Release Day! 9/19/17 🔥

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…

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 bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves
a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

My Review:

Paul Strom has the BEST DAY EVER planned for his wife and a weekend away from their sons.  He's the perfect husband - beautiful house, a job that anyone who watches Mad Men would envy, two wonderful sons... and now the perfect weekend at the lake house. Life couldn't be better... right?  On the car ride up, he notices his wife is a bit distant but he can't quite figure out why.  Surely she doesn't know what's really going on in his life. He's made sure to cover all his tracks.. and she knows the rules.  So why is she challenging him now?

Told in first person narration strictly from Paul's point of view, we slowly see his narcissistic and controlling ways.  Personally, I LOVE being in the mind of a sociopath.  Set in a 24-hour time period, we watch as he tries to control his primal instincts and convince himself that his wife is being the good girl he wants her to be.  I struggled a little bit with the slow pacing and the sudden movements from past to present.   However, it didn't take away from this being a fast read.  Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more of the sinister in Paul - the more calculating and devious side without him losing control.  For someone who is inherently paying close attention to detail, it seems as if he would have been better at fooling more people but I suppose all good things must come to an end, right? 😉  I do wish I knew more about Mia's side and what she went through but it was also refreshing to see things strictly from the male side and not the woman, who is almost always the victim.  This wasn't as suspenseful or as sinister as I was thinking it was going to be going into it.  However, that epilogue did get me thinking.... 

For those who love a slower, unique pacing of a full day in a domestic thriller with an unreliable narrator whom you'll grow to detest, this is a book you won't be able to put down.  


Jessica's Thoughts:

What do you consider to be the perfect day? Well in Karia Rouda's BEST DAY EVER we follow the family of Paul Strom and what he perceives to be the perfect day. What I loved the most about this book was that it takes place in a 24 hour period. This will be a book I can see readers being divided on, but that's what keeps things fun with discussions. 

Paul Strom is the perfect husband. He has a beautiful house, a quiet lakeside property, an enviable and successful job, and then a loving wife and two sons. As he and his wife, Mia, are on their way to the best day ever that he's planned for them he notices that she's being distant. Why would she be? He's kept his secrets from her and she knows not to defy him, so what's going on?
This book dives into the mind of a narcissistic sociopath and how he controls everything in his life. This is told completely from Paul's point of view. It's always refreshing to read something from just the man's point of view, especially in thrillers like this when it's typically from the woman's perspective (and almost always as the victim). This book was a quick read for me even though it had a slower build to it. The epilogue was great and very thought provoking, I know a lot of other readers liked that the most.
Overall, if you're looking for a more uniquely paced domestic thriller with a real timeline (all taking place in 24 hours) then this is one that'll pique your interest! This isn't the most suspenseful domestic thriller I've read, but the sociopath narrator made this to be a creepy read.
I give this one a solid 4/5 stars! 

Sam's Thoughts:

One of my most anticipated fall reads, Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda, came out today and I, in the name of Clues and Reviews and cjsreads decided to binge read this one.  The book, which takes place over the course of 24 hours, was not a hard one to binge.  The timing was quick and the plot moved steadily.  Now that I am finished with this book, there were some things that I really enjoyed and some others that I found to be a bit problematic.

As always, let me break it down.  

The plot surrounds Paul Strom and his wife, Mia, as they embark on a trip to their lake house which is going to be the “best day ever”.  As they continue their journey, tensions rise, secrets are revealed and sanctity of their marriage is called into question. What would you consider the perfect ending to be of the best day ever?

The plot it itself was pretty standard when it comes to domestic suspense.  Man and wife, alone together, secrets and lies and some trouble brewing. Personally, I am not bothered when I can sense the general direction of the book.   I read a lot of books in this genre so it is truly very hard to WOW me throughout.  I knew where Rouda was going with the plot early on and I was curious to see if I would be correct.   However, what made this one feel a little bit different was the narrative style.  Paul is the dominant POV throughout the story which I did enjoy since domestic thrillers are normally told through the perspective of the suspicious wife or downtrodden mistress.  This one had a Gone Girl vibe in that respect.

Characterization wise, I enjoy a character that I love to hate.  Joe from You,  Teo from Perfect Days.  I relish in an unlikable character.   I know this was supposed to be the point of Paul Strom, but I didn’t necessarily find him unlikeable, more like I was indifferent to him.  He was just a cliché bad guy doing cliché bad guy stuff.  He cheats on his wife.  He lies about money.  He was just sort of a tightly woven ball of all the qualities parents warn their daughters about.  Maybe my baseline is off from reading all sorts of twisted reads but I didn’t necessarily find him that much of a “sociopath”

Overall, I was able to read this one extremely quickly and felt like the plot had a ton of potential but it fell a little bit flat for me.  

Big thank you to Graydon House/Harlequin Books for these copies in return for our honest opinions.

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