A loving husband. The perfect killer?
‘I wonder if Mia thinks I have a dark side. Most likely as far as she knows, I am just her dear loving husband.’
Paul Strom has spent years building his perfect life: glittering career, beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in the suburbs.
But he also has his secrets. That’s why Paul has promised his wife a romantic weekend getaway. He proclaims this day, a warm Friday in May, will be the best day ever.
Paul loves his wife, really, he does. But he also wants to get rid of her. And with every hour that passes, Paul ticks off another stage in his elaborately laid plan…
Behind Closed Doors meets Liane Moriarty in this creepy, fast-paced psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming!
Paul Strom is just a traditional, romantic guy who wants to treat his wife to the Best Day Ever, right?
Paul plans to take his wife Mia away for a weekend. The Stroms are a well-off family, and they own a lake house on a gorgeous site near to Lake Erie (yes, we will discuss the irony of that name in a bit).
They have two gorgeous boys, aged 6 and 8. They own a huge home, the biggest in the street, in Columbus. And they have an au pair who looks after the boys whilst Paul and Mia go for a romantic weekend away.
But whilst they’re away, things seem tense. Is it just tiredness, stress, work related, or down to Mia’s recent illness? Secrets begin to emerge and the Best Day Ever quickly becomes one of the worst.
Best Day Ever Review
Best Day Ever is set just under a 24-hour period, and the first person narration is provided by Paul. The chapters are set into time zones, beginning at 9am and continuing until 6am the next day. Very early on we learn a few details about Paul’s past. His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and accidentally killed herself and Paul’s dad whilst leaving the car running in the garage. Paul and Mia have been happily married for around ten years. He feels they’ve both been stressed and run down recently, and that they need to take a break, without the children.
Paul is a very cocky and obnoxious man. He is very vain, and everything comes down to appearances. He’s constantly wanting to appear richer than he is, more successful than he is. When they arrive at the lake, he spies his neighbour’s house: the Boone’s.
“I stop in front of the Boones’ cottage. All of the lights are on, it seems, in every room of the place. They are entertaining people from our neighborhood, no doubt, wining and dining them at their grand historic cottage…I turn the corner onto Laurel Street and our cottage is glowing with light too. There are two people on the screened-in porch. They sit in the two chairs that face the sofa. The furniture is old and rather embarrassing” (p. 132).
We know from previous scenes that two of his credit cards have been declined. They seem to have suddenly run out of money, but why? He has compared himself to his neighbours, whose house, even though they both live in cottages in the nicer part of the camp, is ‘grand’ and ‘historic’ but his is embarrassing and old-fashioned. He talks about replacing the outside furniture.
Rather quickly, we begin to question Paul’s reliability as a narrator. We can tell straight away that there is something not quite right. He’s lying to his wife, which he also tells us early on:
“I must recollect everything I’ve uttered to my wife about Caroline, and the Thompson Payne office in general over the past few months. Then, like for one of Sam’s first grade projects, I must sort what has been said into one pile and what hasn’t been into another. This is an important exercise, done on my terms, not hers” (p. 41).
Paul has these psychopathic tendencies that rear up frequently throughout the book. It also seems that he can’t read people’s emotions very well:
“Embarrassed, that’s the emotion” (p. 140)
Mia, his wife, even states to a neighbour that Paul’s “emotional intelligence is a bit lacking.” He says things because he thinks it is what people will expect: “I think that is a thing a guy would say to another guy” (p. 142).
We hear from Mia’s perspective in the epilogue at the end of the novel, but until then Paul is our only narrator. Paul depicts her as whiny, and a bit of a worrier. We know from Paul that people like Mia, though he isn’t sure why: “Mia is a person many want to befriend” (p. 132).
As an unreliable narrator, we quickly disregard anything he tells us, and so understand that Mia is liked by people because she is a genuinely nice person.
Rouda is very clever in the way she has portrayed Paul. We thoroughly dislike him, and yet it doesn’t stop you from reading the book. He often acknowledges and talks to the reader, asking them not to share his secrets with his wife, as if we know them. As if they live next door and we might spill the beans. This is a very clever literary technique.
As I mentioned before, the lake town they visit is called Lake Erie which only adds to the strangeness this small town exudes. Paul seems to think that the place is lovely but the people and the neighbours are out to get him. His neighbours don’t talk to him and he can’t understand why. He hates going to the Lake during the busy summer months because it fills with idiots. He likes the place, but not the people.
When Mia and Paul go out for lunch, Paul mentions the lighthouse that sits on the rocks leading boaters to safety, away from land. If the lighthouse is leading them to safety, back into the water, Rouda is insinuating that the land is dangerous. Whilst we know this for boats, could she also be applying it to the people on the land? The town is even described as a ‘dry’ place, and the vegetables seem to be wilting in the grocery shop.
Mia also finds safety and comfort in the sky. She enjoys stargazing, and has a phone app that tells her which constellations she can see. People are constantly trying to find a way to escape the land, to somewhere much further away.
I read Best Day Ever in about 3 days. It was gripping, and even comical in places. We can see straight through our narrator, and you’ll find yourself asking, Are you really going to do that? Do you really think that? Very cleverly written, and one any thriller fan should read.
About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart. Her women’s fiction titles include Here, Home, Hope, All the Difference, In the Mirror and The Goodbye Year (April 2016) Her bestselling short story is titled, A Mother’s Day. Kaira’s work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader’s Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines.
Her sexy contemporary romance series set on Indigo Island includes: Weekend with the Tycoon, Book 1; Her Forbidden Love, Book 2; The Trouble with Christmas, Book 3; and The Billionaire’s Bid, Book 4. Each of these novellas can be read as a stand alone, or enjoyed as a series. Her new series is set in Laguna Beach and includes: Laguna Nights, Book 1; Laguna Heights, Book 2; Laguna Lights, Book 3, and Laguna Sights.She also helped launch Melissa Foster’s The Remington’s Kindle World with her bestselling novella, Spotlight on Love and in the Dare to Love Kindle World, The Celebrity Dare.
Her nonfiction titles, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and Real Your For Authors: 8 Essentials for Women Writers, continue to inspire.
She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel.
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