Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book Review: "The Favorite Daughter" by Kaira Rouda

Just when I thought I had seen the craziest, most out-there, insane protagonist, along comes Jane Harris in Kaira Rouda's upcoming book, The Favorite Daughter.

Lord. Have. Mercy.

Jane thought she had it all: a handsome husband, two daughters, a beautiful home in an exclusive oceanfront community in California's Ocean County. But the last year has been terrible. She's been consumed with grief since the unexpected death of her oldest daughter, Mary, in a freak accident. All of the anti-depressants she has been taking have left her in a haze, and she's barely been functional, let alone capable of being a good wife or mother.

But that's all about to change. As they get ready to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Mary's death, Jane is ready to take control of her life again. She hasn't been entirely unaware of what's been going on behind her back. She knew that her husband and both of her daughters were trying to keep things hidden from her, but she knows a lot more than they think—and it's high time she let everyone know they can't fool her.

Jane is surprised, however, how much has changed in the year that she was immersed in her grief. Her husband can barely stand to be in the same room, let alone the same house, with her, and her younger daughter is uncomfortable around her, and keeps talking about how ready she is to leave after she graduates high school in just a few days. But as Jane discovers that her husband and daughter have even more secrets, this time Jane will not stand idly by.

When someone starts leaving notes for Jane saying that there was more to Mary's death than a simple accident, and that someone close to her should be looked at more closely, Jane insists the investigation be reopened, no matter the amount of chaos it might cause her family. Could someone have killed Mary in an effort to control a particular situation? How far would they go to keep that a secret?

The Favorite Daughter takes you on a wild ride. I honestly had no idea what to expect from this book because Jane was such a bizarre character. Part of me kept expecting that this would resemble Sandie Jones' The First Mistake in that you'd see the story from Jane's side and then see a wholly different version through someone else's eyes, but apart from occasional barbs from her husband or daughter, that didn't happen. Regardless, she is so unhinged that I found it difficult to determine what she actually was seeing and what was imagined.

This book definitely kept me guessing as it hurtled toward its conclusion. I read the entire book in just a few hours because I needed to see how Rouda would tie everything up.

I really like the way Rouda writes (check out Best Day Ever, too), and in her "Dear Reader" letter that appeared in my advance copy, she explained what brought her to create Jane's character (if it's in your book, I'd recommend not reading this until after you've read the book), and that's fascinating. But these characters all seemed so unlikable, and it almost felt like I was seeing them through Jane's drug-induced haze, so I never understood them thoroughly enough.

If you're looking for a book with one crazy character, pick up The Favorite Daughter. It's quite a read!

NetGalley and HARLEQUIN — Graydon House Books provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

This book will be published May 21, 2019.

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