Book Review: The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

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dilemma  Dilemma B  dilemma C

Publish Date: June 30, 2020

When you’ve been robbed of something you wanted more than anything, it never really goes away.” — The Dilemma

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It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad.

But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be there. Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for his wife: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the family celebration. But during the day, he hears some terrible news and he too is faced with a dilemma.

How far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

Dilemma 1

This domestic suspense is a tale of a birthday, a marriage, a family, a tragedy, and hope. It’s completely different than B.A. Paris’s other books, yet equally as enthralling.

The story takes place over 24 hours. It begins at the end of the story and then starts back 24 hours ago. In that time we get to know Livia and Adam, a happily married couple just about to host a huge garden party to celebrate Livia’s 40th birthday. But the party is not just about celebrating a milestone birthday; it’s a gathering that symbolizes the wedding reception that Livia and Adam never had, and hopes for reconciling with family.

The chapters alternate between Livia and Adam so that the reader is privy to both husband and wife perspectives. Livia and Adam are both holding huge, heartbreaking secrets about their daughter Marnie, and both are waiting for just the right moment to share what they know.  The right moment never comes, and the reactions to the Big Reveals are exactly as I expected when a secret is spilled with ill timing.

Livia and Adam both hold back their secrets out of love for each other, and because they both feel that their spouse deserves to be blissfully unaware of the knowledge of life-altering events. They carry the weight of their secret throughout the party and it’s impossible to enjoy the beautiful party. It made me think of what I’d do in the same situation… what would each of us do?

My favorite quotes:

An angel walking to the Devils beat.”

“Sometimes, just sometimes, I’d like him to experience what it feels like to not know where somebody you love is, to be out of your mind with worry. To fear the worst.”

“I know how lucky I am that I have my family, my friends, and my health. At least for now.”

“In the space of a day, something deep within him has changed.”

This book is about secrets, betrayal, love, marriage, friendship, family, tragedy, and resentment.  There are many supporting characters in this story and sometimes it was challenging to keep them straight. It’s a slow and steady burn, with the last 20% of the book making it all worthwhile. I spent the last few minutes of the book bawling my eyes out (all the feels!), and I suspect that many others will too.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars 3 Stars

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.

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