The Dilemma
by B.A. Paris

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martins Press, and B.A. Paris for a free electronic ARC of The Dilemma in exchange for an honest review!

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris releases on June 30th, 2020.

I have to be honest, here, and say that I have a like-hate relationship with B.A. Paris’ books.  I did enjoy her first novel, Behind Closed Doors, and while it was not my favourite, I did like it.  Unfortunately, however, I have not been able to connect with her latest books, whatsoever.  I feel like I’m alone in these feelings though, because there are SO many readers who have read and loved all of her books.  So, please, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt because you might really enjoy these books and I am probably just in the minority with my feelings.

In 2018, I read Paris’ second novel, The Breakdown, and was really disappointed with it (2 stars).  I failed to make a connection with the protagonist, Cass, because she was SO naive that it was completely unbelievable. The other characters, Matthew and Rachel, were not any better.  I also disliked how I knew exactly what was going to happen at the end of the book from the very first chapter.  Overall, I found it to be completely underwhelming.  Because of this disappointment, I decided to take a break from her writing and not read Bring Me Back, her 2019 release.

This brings me to Paris’ latest novel, The Dilemma, which takes place over the course of one full day and evening: Livia’s 40th birthday.  Livia has been planning her 40th birthday party ever since she was denied the wedding and reception of her dreams, by her parents.  Since then, she has been saving money from every pay check to put towards this lavish party.  Both Livia and her husband, Adam, are determined to make sure that nothing goes amiss and that the party is absolutely perfect.  To ensure that this happens, Livia and Adam decide to keep a major secret from each other, regarding their daughter, Marnie, until the party is over (you can read the full synopsis below).

I really struggled to finish this book because it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the overall concept of this book.  It is definitely not a thriller, and instead, way more of a twisted and confusing family drama, which threw me off from the get-go.  I also found it difficult to connect with the characters, the plot, as well as with Paris’ writing.  Livia and Adam are very unlikeable (and annoying) characters who are both extremely selfish and self-absorbed.  Nothing about them, or their reasoning for keeping their secrets, sat well with me.  I also found the overall story to be drawn out and repetitive, as you read the same dialogue and events described through both Livia and Adam in their respective alternating chapters.  Overall, I’m really disappointed and I do not think I will read another book by this author.

You can read the full synopsis below:


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 Livia is secretly glad Marnie 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 Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they loveand give each other a last few hours of happiness?


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