Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Book Review: The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

Title: The Favorite Daughter
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 368
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From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

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… 

Have you ever read one of those books where you simultaneously hate the main character but are also rooting for them? The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda was one of those books for me. It will be very hard for me, because this book was just SO good, but there will be no spoilers in this review.

This is a psychological suspense novel about Jane Harris, a woman who strives to have the perfect home, the perfect body, and the perfect family. Imperfections are not allowed in her life. One year prior to the start of the book, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and ever since, Jane has been stricken with grief and struggling with her own anxieties. She grieved, went to therapy, took anti-depressants, and she cut herself off from everyone including her daughter and husband, but she decided all of that was over. She was ready to pull her life back together.

Her husband, David, planned a memorial service to celebrate Mary on the one-year anniversary of her death. Three days following the memorial service, Betsy, an amazing artist, would be graduating high school and going to a local community college which made Jane very happy. Keeping her daughter close was important to her. After the memorial, Jane noticed an anonymous letter in her purse saying there was more to Mary’s death than everyone thought and she continued receiving letters after the memorial, throwing even more chaos into Jane’s life.

Jane was ready to get her family back in line. She had to be in control, and nothing less would do. After Mary and Cash, the family dog, died, both David and Betsy distanced themselves from her. David stayed at work later and later and Betsy spent more time out with her friends, but Jane never let them get too far from her with tracking apps and the ability to read all of their sent and received text message exchanges.

This was a five star read for me! I couldn’t put this book down. The story is told strictly from Jane’s point of view and it moves at a fast pace. To her, life is a show and she is an actress who is always on stage. Every woman is jealous of her and every man is in love and flirting with her. Everything that happens in her life is by her manipulation. She is narcissistic, selfish, and manipulative yet I still somehow found myself rooting for her and her plans.

This was my first Rouda book, but it absolutely will not be my last!