Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review: "Best Day Ever" by Kaira Rouda

Paul Strom has the perfect romantic weekend planned for his wife Mia—their two sons will be in the care of their babysitter, and they will head to their lake house outside Columbus, Ohio.

It's been a while since they've been able to spend any time alone, given how hard Paul works to provide for their family, and how much time and effort parenthood requires. He's even planned a playlist of songs that remind them of different occasions throughout their relationship.

It's really going to be the best day ever.

As they drive up to the cottage, some little annoyances pop up. Mia starts talking about going back to work, which Paul will absolutely not tolerate, since he's the breadwinner and he wants her to be home to care for their children. Mia gets angry that they got a late start because of a mysterious phone call Paul received, so they can't stop at her favorite bakery for croissants. (This is a big deal, since Mia has become a vegetarian of late, after suffering from unexplained fatigue and weakness for a while.)

But even with the little frustrations, both Paul and Mia are committed to making the day the best ever. They want to recapture the magic of when they first met, when Paul was an up and coming executive at an advertising agency, and Mia was a young copywriter. At that moment, Paul knew what he wanted—Mia—and he always got what he wanted, no matter what. And Mia loved how in control Paul was, and how he won her over.

Things haven't been perfect between them lately, but how often do marriages run into tough times? Paul is determined to make everything better. But why are Mia's questions putting him on edge? Is she testing him, or does she suspect him of something?

Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage? Best Day Ever explores how well we really know our spouses, and explores how quickly a fragile trust can be broken down. Kaira Rouda throws lots of twists and turns into the plot, which spans a little more than one day in the life of a couple. She also introduces another creepy main character into the literary world, as Paul Strom is definitely the type of person you wouldn't want to encounter.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had seen some tremendously positive reviews and some lukewarm ones, and given how many thrillers I read, I wasn't sure if Rouda would be able to surprise me. The truth is, even though this is a familiar story, Rouda knows how to ratchet up the tension little by little, so you really are left wondering just how she'll tie everything together.

This is a fast read—I devoured the book in a day. It was a little predictable in places but I liked disliking these characters so much. Rouda definitely has a great deal of talent, and I'll be interested to see what she comes up with next.

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