Book review: Under the Palms by Kaira Rouda

Thursday, April 25, 2024 Permalink

Under the Palms by Kaira Rouda is labelled The Kingsleys #2. I hadn’t realised it was the second in a series but I didn’t feel like I was missing any backstory or context. Although – given the secrets of #1 (Beneath the Surface) are revealed here – it does render going back and reading that kinda pointless (from the whodunnit and why perspective anyway).

I enjoyed the early parts of this novel though found almost all of the characters to be incredibly unlikeable. And in some ways they bordered on caricatures, they were soooo obvious. That being said, I appreciated the whodunnit and the game-playing that featured prominently.

Book review: Under the Palms by Kaira RoudaUnder the Palms
by Kaira Rouda
Series: The Kingsleys #2
Published by Thomas & Mercer
on 21/05/2024
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1662511949
Pages: 269

Under the direction of the Kingsleys’ new president, Paige, the family has gathered for a weekend retreat at a luxurious Laguna Beach resort.

Still clinging to the hope of succession are the sons of Richard Kingsley, the family patriarch and John, the oldest, who’s clawed his way back from a dark tragedy, and Paige’s estranged husband, Ted, the golden boy. When Richard’s ex and his wayward daughter join the fray, Paige finds herself with two fast allies. They know a secret that could shatter the family legacy. Call it leverage, call it revenge, the Kingsley women believe they have the upper hand.

But as the power games begin, greater threats than the howling Santa Ana winds are coming. Because this weekend, amid so much greed and betrayal, no Kingsley is safe. It’s family. Watch your back.

As I’d not read the first book I had no idea why Richard had made daughter-in-law Paige president of the family company. The brief backstory we get about her experience with not-for-profits is hardly an indication that she had business-smarts. So that seemed a bit weird, unless it was solely a ‘F*ck you!’ to his problematic sons and wayward daughter. And though Paige plays the game exceptionally well here, I really didn’t get any sense that she’s crazy-clever.

Though she fared better than other female characters including John’s money-hungry recent girlfriend (Krystal Carrington – YES REALLY!) desperate for him to put a ring on it (though with a hidden agenda to make his family pay for the death of her brother); Richard’s ex-wife Serena who cheated on her husband with his philandering, alcoholic and gambling addict son (Ted) and then got herself pregnant in an affair with some Italian dude, who doesn’t feature here other than to completely throw things into disarray and force a revised climax. And then there’s Sibley, Richard’s daughter who I wanted to like but who – quite frankly – came across as a flighty bitch, falling for one of the hotel staff members after a conversation or two and changing her allegiances at the drop of a hat. (Or promise of money and love.)

I absolutely adored the first book I read by Rouda, Best Day Ever, which made my ‘best of the year’ list back in 2017. I didn’t enjoy this as much but she does seem to be able to create some evil / sociopathic characters.

I have to say however… though the characters were thoroughly unlikeable and I ultimately cared little whether they lived or died, I’ll probably tune in for #3 because there are some obvious red flags here including the fact that Paige’s younger assistant who was supposedly spying on her for John and Ted, was (in fact) helping her, but also happens to be the son of some billionaire rival of Richard’s. The already murky plot thickens!

Under the Palms by Kaira Rouda will be published in late May 2024 by Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing).

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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