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The Dilemma

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Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.

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 love—and give each other a last few hours of happiness?

342 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2019

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About the author

B.A. Paris

15 books16.4k followers
B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back and The Dilemma. Having sold over a million copies in the UK alone, she is a New York Times bestseller as well as a Sunday Times bestseller. Her books have been translated into 40 languages. Having lived in France for many years, she and her husband recently moved back to the UK.
Her fifth novel is out in 2021

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5 stars
10,143 (19%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,611 reviews
Profile Image for JanB .
1,129 reviews2,290 followers
May 3, 2020
1.5 stars
This was a boring short story that was stretched out into a full-length snooze of a book. I basically hate-read it.

Why? Let me count the ways:
• The entire book relies on the tired trope of a couple NOT TALKING TO EACH OTHER!! UGH
• I found it hard to believe a grown ass woman would dream of a 40th birthday party for 20+ years, to make up for the big wedding she never had. The way she obsesses over the party is utterly ridiculous. Grow up already.
• Pages and pages could be skimmed without missing a thing. 90% of the book was repeating over and over and over again the “dilemma”. Good grief, we get it already. Without the repetition the book would have been about 30 pages long.
• The dilemma? Each knows a secret that they are keeping from the other. Adam’s secret is serious and to think he could continue with the party despite his suspicions is utterly ridiculous. Just so his immature wife can have her ridiculous party. Livia’s "secret" is just plain dumb, as is the way she obsesses over it.
• The ending? It was not only pat and unbelievable but it made me angry for all the people who have lived this particular hell.
• There was no tension, just irritation. This is a family drama, not a thriller, and a boring one at that.

I did finish the book thinking there just might be a payoff at the end. There wasn’t. I'm rounding it up to 2 stars simply because I finished it.

* I received a digital copy fromNetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,133 reviews39.3k followers
November 19, 2021
I should rename this book with my another favorite Led Zeppelin’s song name: “Communication Breakdown” or we may call it “Anatomy of Marriage” and deliver this heart wrenching, soul crusher, touchy story into talented hands of Noah Baumbach to turn this into a tear jerker movie. What do you think if we may have another realistic, memorable movie after Marriage’s Story.

I have to admit, I didn’t expect a dramatic family fiction when I started reading this book. When I saw B. A. Paris’ name, I thought I was about to devour a nail biter, eyes wider, grey cell crusher thriller story. So I may have given two stars after the disappointment but... I couldn’t because this is really good written fiction.

I truly loved Livia as a character, Adam and her marriage story made me cry, affected me deeply because in my opinion you’re not growing up till you get married and spend your life with someone, discovering yourself and learning more about your partner in crime! When you get married, you learn how to share, how to fight against tremendous challenges life is throwing at your way, because your marriage teaches you to be selfless, mature, logical. Mostly marriage also teaches you to be blind, mute and listen more, act lesser.

Livia and Adam were so young when they put their rings on and took their first steps to the parenthood when they were also young adults. Livia is shunned by her family emotionally and financially. And Adam had real hard time to adapt his new life. He acted like spoiled brat/ baby boy who wanted to hang out and play with other boys, riding bikes, rejecting responsibility and put entire parenthood burden on his wife’s shoulders. He made so many mistakes and now he was adamant to pay his dues and atone his past marriage sins.

So our story starts at the 40th birthday party of Livia. She’s finally having quality time with loved ones and being pampered by her friends and family. But Livia is not really happy. She’s keeping a secret from her husband about her daughter. Her husband’s favorite, Marnie, their daughter, betrayed their trust and Livia is not ready to face to her daughter who is still in Hong Kong for her education. This secret could change everything about their family dynamics, their social circles and close friendships.

But guess what! Her husband is also keeping a secret, too. Their daughter is planning to make surprising appearance at her mother’s birthday. Adam is so happy and determined to compensate his faults and wrongdoings throughout their marriage by giving his wife the most special night she deserves.

Then he checks the news and finds out there is a plane crash and their daughter might be in very same plane. But he can tell it to his wife and ruin his day. Maybe their daughter missed the plane. Maybe she was alive, wasn’t she?

You wanna know what’s gonna happen? Go on and read it! It’s getting better at each page.

I enjoyed book’s realism about marriage, friendship, parenthood and the author’s way of questioning those matters with honesty. Only thing I didn’t like is the couple’s lack of communication because of their own reasons could be more frustrating than you could ever imagine.

And of course ending ripped my heart apart. So I’m giving my happily ever after four stars and recommend this heartbreaking journey to you. But please keep your napkins, tissues, any kind of tear driers closer and do not wail way too long like I did not to traumatize your lovely neighbors!

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sharing this meaningful ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,474 reviews9,402 followers
February 6, 2023
It's no secret that B.A. Paris is one of my go-to Thriller authors. Consequently, The Dilemma, her 2020-release, was one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Although quite different from her prior works, I still really enjoyed it. The narrative is smaller in scope, yet quite intricate as a character study.

Following husband and wife, Livia and Adam, this story takes place during the course of a single day; that of Livia's much anticipated, 40th-birthday party.

Adam and Livia married very young and never had the chance to have the wedding that Livia had always dreamed of.

She had now come to look on this party as an opportunity to celebrate not just her birthday, but also their relationship.

As the day arrives, Livia is dragged down by a monumental secret she is keeping from her husband.

Unfortunately, she's not the only one with a secret. Adam also has a life-changing secret that he is keeping from her.

The narrative alternates between the two as they struggle with their decisions to keep such important facts from one another.

While very introspective in a lot of ways, there is still quite a bit of suspense. Over the course of the story, the reader learns the true nature of their respective secrets and their implications.

As I mentioned above, this novel seemed smaller in scope compared to her previous novels. By that I mean, all of the action takes place at their home, during the course of a single day.

Her previous novels certainly covered larger geographical areas, as well as longer spans of time, making the stories seem more complex.

However, I think after you complete this one, and you sit back and think about what you have read, the real intricacies begin to shine through.

I cried reading this. The characters go through so much, it really moved me.

Although I would classify this as a domestic drama versus a psychological thriller, which is what I would classify her earlier novels as, I appreciated it very much for what it is.

Her writing style is just so compelling and never fails to keep me glued to the pages.

B.A. Paris has found a fan in me for life. I will pick up every book she has published.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin's Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

Profile Image for Nefeli.
101 reviews95 followers
August 15, 2020
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

⚫ You are a grown-ass woman about to become 40 years old. Do you:
A) Have a normal birthday party, maybe even a bit over the top because why the hell not?
B) Throw the biggest party in the history of parties, which you have been fantasising about and saving money for since you were 20 years old, for some godforsaken reason?

⚫ Your friend (who you neither like nor particularly trust) tells you that your wife has been saving money and hiding it in a box under her bed because she wants to leave you. Do you:
A) Talk to your wife about it and find out that she's actually saving money because she wants to go travelling with you?
B) Steal her money, use it to buy a motorbike and when she confronts you about it be like "Ha! Fuck you, now you can't leave me"?

⚫ You find out that your friend's 40-year-old husband is having an affair with your 18-year-old daughter. Do you:
A) Tell your husband and have a mature discussion with your daughter about the subject? Then tell your friend what a creep her husband is so she can divorce him?
B) Keep it a secret for weeks and secretly kinda blame your daughter for the affair? And never tell your friend about it?

⚫ You have very serious reason to believe that your daughter has -listen to me- DIED in a plane crash. Do you:
A) Tell your wife and son and find out as soon as you can whether your daughter is alive?
B) Tell no one because you don't want to ruin your wife's birthday party?

If you answered A) in the above questions, then congratulations, you are a normal human being who makes sensible decisions and probably has a healthy relationship with your partner and children. If you answered B), what -and I can't stress this enough- the fuck is wrong with you?
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,070 reviews2,675 followers
June 29, 2020
This is a story about a dilemma that takes place over less than 24 hours but felt like a century, to me. Despite the fact that my reading buddies liked this one a lot more than I did, it was still a fun buddy read. I pretty much griped about the husband Adam, not making a necessary phone call and continually thinking he should do something but not doing it, on and on and on. If I were a violent person, I would have thrown my Kindle across the room, but I'm not a violent person and I like my Kindle too much to break it. 

And then there was Liv, who I could relate to about as easily as I could relate to a mushroom growing on a faraway planet. Liz missed out on her dream wedding (which she'd been dreaming about before she even knew who she would marry) but then she got pregnant and had to have a quickie wedding. Because Liv missed out on her dream wedding at the age of 17, she's been obsessing daily about having a huge, 40th birthday party. Everyone knows how important this birthday party is to her, nothing can ever interfere with this birthday party. Not even the very important, maybe devastating news that her husband has for her, it's so important, but he can't bring himself to tell her this thing because it might ruin his wife's birthday party. 

Really, Liv, you missed out on your dream wedding and instead of having a huge party to renew your wedding vows or something "wedding-like" you make it all about you? Your husband is afraid to tell you something very, very important because of how much you have made this birthday party your life goal. What are you going to do after it's all over, will there be anything to live for? 

Oh, Liv has something very important that she wants to tell, not only her husband, but several close couples and she knows it's going to upset all the people she tells. She's been sitting on it for weeks and really needs to discuss it with one person but she hasn't because of "excuses". But she's letting this thing color every minute of her very important birthday party. At times, her husband almost gets the courage to blurt out his important something but then Liv flits off to do birthday things or to get out of having a deep talk with her husband, during her birthday party. These people were wearing me out. 

Publish date June 30th 2020

Thank you to St Martin's Press and Edelweiss for this ARC. 
Profile Image for Suzy.
329 reviews206 followers
March 1, 2020
1.5 stars! ⭐️⭐️

Watch out...I’m annoyed and it’s about to show!

This will definitely go down as one of the worst books I have ever read. Without a doubt the worst by this author. Y’all. The 4 and 5 star reviews are baffling to me. B.A.F.F.L.I.N.G. For the love of God, someone please explain what I must have missed here!

The Dilemma is basically a short story that is drawn out into 260 pages of nothing. Literally nothing. This book is the furthest from a psychological thriller that you can get. Family drama? Sure. However, there’s just not enough happening here.

I was hoping for some huge, shocker ending. Something to justify these fantastic reviews. Nothing. Disappointing!

I love B.A. Paris’s books. I look forward to the next one. This one was just a huge letdown for me.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and B.A. Paris for my advanced copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,940 reviews722 followers
January 3, 2020
2 stars because I made it to the end

This is a case where the more I thought about this book, the more I turned to the dark side where the words "god I so dislike this story" entered my mind.. So what words describe a book like this...lackluster, boring, nonsensical, immature, egotistical are a few that come to mind. Of course none of them indicate a book that I would recommend.

First the premise of a woman who missed out on a big fairy tale wedding and now has scrimped and saved for countless years to throw herself a fortieth birthday party was ridiculous. For pity sake, if you missed a wedding why not throw one for you and your husband. Countless people do so are you so narcissistic (yes) that it must always be all about you? Oh and she has a secret, one she can't share with her husband by the way.

And then there was the husband, hiding a secret so awful that he let his beloved wife go through "her day" without telling her the horrible news. My god, this is your wife, the person you share everything with. Why would you not share this? Shouldn't you both be able to face this happening together are husband and wife, as parents?

Yes, the tragedy was horrendous, one that no parent should ever experience, but at the end of the long drawn out, or what could have been a short story in Reader's Digest, we find everything back to normal. The tragedy has been handled, the secret has not been exposed, and life goes on its merry way. Absurd!!!

Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
799 reviews1,808 followers
February 21, 2020
Some frustrating characters in this one....

This author has been a little hit and miss with me, I've read all of her books. In my opinion, this one is NOT a thriller, but more of a family/relationship drama.

The entire novel centers around a twenty-four hour period and a married couple- Livia and Adam. The story revolves around Livia's 40th Birthday bash. Her daughter Marnie won't be attending. I was extremely frustrated at both of them to the point of wanting to scream at them. Livia was unbelievably obsessed with this party and Adam, well, he drove me insane with his actions.

  I was getting frustrated and at the same time wanting to know where the missing daughter was and why these two parents weren't sharing what they knew! They just continued their "partying".

I did enjoy it, but there is quite a bit of repetition with the same events being repeated over and over caused much skimming because I was tiring of the party shenanigans, but I also really wanted to know about Marnie.

I was compelled to keep reading and find out the answers to my questions... Where was Marnie? What is going to happen? Is she going to show up at this party?

I won't spoil the ending, but I will say, it wasn't the end I expected. I'm sure Paris fans will enjoy this one, but for me it was a bit lacking in the execution and left me feeling a little bewildered. Really.

Thanks to NG and the publisher for my review copy. OUT in June 2020
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,036 reviews3,556 followers
December 29, 2019
I’m in a quandary…no, a full-fledged dilemma on how to review this one!💁🏻♀️

The entire read takes place over the course of just one evening.
Told from alternating POV of Adam and Livia. A misguided couple so desperate to please each other yet so dismally confused on how to accomplish it.

A birthday party like no other!

Livia has saved up for years to throw herself the bash of the century for her 40th birthday! And no one’s stopping this epic event! No matter what craziness might be happening around her...she won’t let it rob her from her stupendous day!
And Adam? He simply wants nothing more than for Livia to have her day! But at what cost?

This book read like a freight train running off the rails! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! And basically read it in just a bit over 2 sittings! (Who needs to eat?) I was desperate to see how this would turn out! I needed to know the ending!!

However, the main characters were so despicable it was hard to sympathize with either of them. Livia came off as selfish and self-absorbed to the point that she puts herself far above from her family and friends. Adam...well I’m not even sure what to say about him!!? What’s the old saying, “if you can’t say something nice?” I’ll just say his behavior boggled my mind!

Did I enjoy it? Well yes I certainly did!
Was it what I expected? Ha! Not even close!
Would I recommend it? YES! If you are looking for a speedy thriller for a weekend read, then this is the one!

A quick and fun buddy read with Susanne!🎈

Thank you to Marissa Sangiacomo at St Martin's Press for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,655 reviews170 followers
November 26, 2019
I found this book hard to put down.
Each chapter alternates between Olivia and her husband with everything in between.

Olivia didn’t have a fabulous wedding. She’s longed and planned for her 40th birthday, what seems like, all her life. She’s saved and invested all her years focused on it.

But does her birthday huge party go off with a bang?

It sure does. But not in the way we think.

Olivia is walking around with a secret. And we get to read what she’s really thinking and feeling.

And a dark cloud of revelation is hanging over her husband that day.
And we get to read what’s going on in his head, and his emotions.

They have two grown children.
And we get some tearful times with Dad and his son that brought a lump to my throat. Emotional at times.

Picturing the birthday party in my head was so well played out with top “star” characters being there.
I grew to love Nelson. A best friend of her husband.

The parental family enveloping from her husbands side was lovely and all that it should be. Family support in crisis.

At one time I thought it was a bit drawn out that’s why it has 4* from me. But don’t be misled because I absolutely was invested in this book 100% and more.

We see about communication.
We learn about ‘good intentions’ that can go badly wrong.
We learn about family and relationships.
And we learn about love. Pure unselfish love.
And we learn about grief.

It’s one I’ll remember for quite some time.

This author astounds me with her abilities and insight to human depths of character.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
January 22, 2020
4 Stars.

Most spouses keep a few secrets from each other, am I right? Everyone does it and it’s the reason why this novel will getcha.

Livia and Adam have been married for over 20 years and have two children, Josh, 22 and Marnie, 19. Having had a small wedding ceremony way back when, Livia has been scrimping and saving for 20 years to have a huge 40th Birthday Party to make up for what she has always dreamed of.

Livia’s party would almost be perfect, if only..

Livia never planned to keep this secret from Adam for so long, yet, the longer she keeps it, the harder it is to utter. She knows that if she fesses up, it will destroy both her husband Adam, and several of her friends' lives.

Adam just wanted to do something special for Livia on her birthday. He never imagined the horror his surprise would inflict on his entire family.. now he can’t fathom telling them the truth.

“The Dilemma” is a novel that makes you think about intentions, both good and bad and how they can be perceived. Communication in a marriage is oh so important and yet, it’s not that easy is it? Sometimes, as we all know, pretending is easier.

This novel made me think about secrets. Little White Lies and those Big Old Whoppers. We’ve all told ‘em. Now I wonder if they were worth it.

Told from the perspectives of Livia and Adam, “The Dilemma” is nothing like I expected it to be. Livia and Adam, are, in my opinion, wholly unlikeable and that made for an extremely interesting read. It’s hard for me to love a novel when I don’t like the characters and yet, this is highly addictive. This novel, which is more of a domestic family drama, is a departure for B. A. Paris. It is one that will make your heart catch, your throat tighten and your nerve endings feel raw. It is very well done and I recommend it to fans of B. A. Paris and any one who loves fiction of all kinds.

This was a Christmas buddy read with Kaceey and I’m so glad I got to share it with her!

Thank you to Marissa Sangiacomo at St. Martin’s Press and B. A. Paris for the arc.

Published on Goodreads on 12.29.19.
October 31, 2022
I delayed reviewing this and reading it. In the end my reading time was about 2 hours and whilst I chunked my way through the book, I didn't feel I missed anything. That says it all unfortunately.

I don't want to be unkind because there are so many things I disliked, so I will leave it here. Suffice to say this was not for me.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
494 reviews244 followers
July 10, 2020
My goodness, what a HUGE disappointment this novel was! Two whopping stars for a $30 book, solely based on the fact that Paris is a capable writer. With that being said, this could have been so much shorter, even a short story, yet it dragged on for 340 LONG pages! I don't understand how this book was published as the characters were completely unrealistic and unlikable for the most part, and this was not a thriller or suspense as I expected. It was more of a family drama than anything, and that's being generous. The main character, Livia, is so obsessed with the fact she didn't get to have a big lavish wedding as a knocked-up teenager when she married, that she saves for 23 years and throws herself a big 40th birthday party instead. She's selfish to say the least. I mean, she doesn't want her own daughter at the party because she knows something about her that paints her in a less than perfect light, and therefore would ruin her fun (how selfish is that?!). Her husband, Adam, is just simply put, an idiot. The secret or information he keeps inside in order for his selfish wife to enjoy her 8 hour party, makes so sense. No real person would keep the information he knows away from his family, and watch them party for hours and hours instead. therefore the dilemma in this story should not have been a dilemma at all, and wouldn't be in real life. At this point, I've disliked Paris's last two releases as they were so incredibly unrealistic and unbelievable that I'm totally off her now, and she will no longer be on my auto-purchase list, that's for sure! Her last two novels' ideas, I believe, are a result of a lazy writer. Thank you for saving me some future $$$ B.A. Paris!!
Profile Image for Deanna .
655 reviews12.4k followers
September 10, 2020

I have read and enjoyed all of this author's previous novels so I was very excited to read "The Dilemma" too. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out very well for me. I was waiting and waiting for something that never happened.

Although this novel wasn't a hit with me, I’m still a big fan of B. A Paris, and I'm really looking forward to the author’s next novel.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,201 reviews34.9k followers
February 3, 2020
A husband and wife with secrets. Livia and Adam are protecting their secret from each other. One believes his/her secret is damaging. The other knows his/her secret is heartbreaking. Both are keeping his/her secret from the other as it is the day of Livia’s 40th Birthday party. A party she has been waiting to have for a long, long, time. Both intend to tell the other his/her secret after the party. But how? How does one keep it together? Who does one keep on a happy face when his/her world has been devastated forever?

I found this to be a fast read, but will I remember it in six months' time? Most likely as the B.A. Paris book that I enjoyed the least. I found this to be a fast read but felt that it would have worked just as well as a novella. Plus, even though I get that one individual wanted to keep the secret until there was concrete proof but at the same time, I thought, seriously, this is something that should not have been kept secret. But as you can tell, these people are flawed. They both have their reasons for their secrets whether we agree with those reasons or not.

So how do they tell their secrets? How do the secrets come out? What happens next? How does life change for them? Do you agree with both keeping their secrets until after the party? What would you have done? I know how I would have handled things. How would you have handled them? Making the title of this book to be absolutely perfect.

I enjoyed the book, but it didn't wow me as much as her other books did. Her other books The Breakdown and Behind Closed Doors wowed me more. The Dilemna, although a fast read, was also repetitive. It was, like her other books that I have read, well written. Even though this not my favorite by B.A. Paris, I will be on the lookout for future books.

I received a copy of this book from ST. Martins Press and NetGalley in return for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
July 3, 2020
Whew, that was one frustrating, suspenseful race to the finish for me. I found myself in a dilemma with wanting to give up on this one or control my frustration with how dragged out the story felt at times. The suspense won out and I kept turning the pages as fast as I could and ended up enjoying this one.

I loved the idea of the dilemmas here our main characters Adam and Livia face that left me in a dilemma with my thoughts on their dilemma. Did that make sense? lol I loved all the questions it left me with that I wanted to talk about with my friends in this buddy read.

The characters and their actions are questionable and at times I thought they were convincing and others not so much. At times it was hard for me to empathize with the characters and I went back and forth with liking them and not liking them. The ending left me with some mixed feeling but overall I liked the way it wrapped up.

As you can see I was in a bit of a dilemma with this one! Can you tell I love the title???

I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss
Profile Image for Joey R..
237 reviews299 followers
January 18, 2021
2.5 stars — I consider myself a big fan of B.A. Paris — especially her last novel, “The Breakdown ”, so I was very excited to read her latest book “The Dilemma”. “The Dilemma” is written from the perspectives of Livia and Adam (who are husband and wife) as they prepare for Livia’s huge 40th birthday celebration, a party that Livia has been planning for 20 years to take the place of the wedding she never had. Adam has planned a big surprise for the party in that he paid to fly the couple’s 19 year old daughter, Marnie, from Hong Kong as a surprise. When one of the connecting flights that Marnie may or may not been a passenger on crashes and kills everyone on board, Adam has to decide whether to tell his family about this event — on the night of his wife’s birthday party. First, let me note that Paris’s writing is superb and she does a wonderful job of conveying all of the emotions surrounding this horrible situation— guilt, anger, fear, depression and grief. That being said, when you are expecting a thriller/suspense novel and you get a character study on dealing with a crisis in the midst of a celebratory event, you are not going to be a happy reader —- and I wasn’t. In a nutshell here is my review
Quality of writing —5 stars
Character development—5 stars
Subject matter—0 stars
How I felt while reading and after reading —0 stars and very depressed
**+So if you are looking for a very well written depressing story with interesting characters and plot but that ruins your entire reading experience because you will be so depressed this is the book for you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tan Markovic.
335 reviews136 followers
April 8, 2020
1.5 maybe? If I'm being very generous...

I would actually consider BA Paris to be one of my favourite authors, I absolutely loved her first three books this one however I could barely stand.

Both the plot and characters were boring, one dimensional and predictable. On top of that I found both Livia and Adam to be incredibly self centred characters despite everything that had happened.

I guess a positive is it was easy to flick through, but a lot of it was incredibly repetitive and the dialogue felt forced and stunted and I found myself skimming the last 15%.

Profile Image for Sumit RK.
407 reviews451 followers
July 22, 2020
Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.

First things first, this book is NOT a thriller or a mystery but more of a Family Drama. The entire novel unfolds in a 24 hour period and revolves around a married couple- Livia and Adam.

It is Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the grand wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But throughout the party, both Adam and Livia are in mental turmoil. Because both of them are withholding a secret from each other and in a dilemma, whether to reveal it or not… A secret that could tear their lives apart.

First the good part. This is a story about miscommunications that overtime keeps getting bigger. The story unfolds slowly with each chapter over a one hour time period, told by either Adam or Livia. The story is tragic and B A Paris has an amazing writing style that keeps you hooked.

Now for the not so good part. If you read this expecting a thriller you will be disappointed. It’s more of a family drama. I found the entire premise of Birthday party and husband not sharing a secret really hard to believe. The story gets very repetitive with both husband and wife struggling with their ‘secrets’ over and over and over without any resolution in sight. Entire scenes and chapters start feeling repetitive after a while. Both Livia and Adam came across as immature and self-centered. There was no twist in the ending either. This could have worked as a short story but felt unnecessarily dragged.

Overall, this book will appeal more to fans of a family drama than thriller fans. 2.5 stars out of 5.

Many thanks to the publishers' St. Martin's Press and Macmillan and Edelweiss for the ARC.
July 6, 2020
4.5 stars!

Wow - this isn’t AT ALL what I anticipated. This book had me bawling like a baby! I have read all of this authors work and this is completely different than her usual psychological thriller vibe. This was an intense, suspenseful family drama.

The entire novel takes place over the course of two days broken down by the hour. The dual perspectives within each chapter switch between Livia and Adam who are married and about to celebrate Livia’s fortieth birthday with their close friends and family. I enjoyed the way the story flowed and unfolded which kept me fully invested throughout.

Both Livia and Adam have a dilemma on their minds that they are keeping from one another. The tension is high as they contemplate the right timing to discuss their concerns with each other. I was on edge from start to finish, hoping for a good outcome. I sympathized with Livia and Adam and pondered exactly how I would handle the dilemmas they found themselves in. This book gave me a lot to think about!

I was not prepared to be so emotionally wrecked while reading this (and I mean that in the most positive way!). I love a good book cry and this had be sobbing which is a clear indication as to how emotionally invested I was in this storyline.

For B. A. Paris fans, make sure you adjust your expectations going into this one. It is NOT a thriller. Be prepared for a highly suspenseful, tension-filled, deeply emotional, twisty and gripping family drama. I loved every page of it!

Thank you to Edelweiss for my review copy!
Profile Image for Amanda.
710 reviews236 followers
December 14, 2019
I was so excited to have a new B.A Paris book I settled down knowing I wouldn’t be moving anytime soon. I was right as soon as I had read the first page I was completely hooked and unable to put the book down.

Adam and Livia are married with two children, Josh 22 and Marnie 19. Livia has been planning her 40th birthday party for twenty years to make up for her small wedding. She has been secretly saving so that she can have a party no one will forget.

All her friends will be there apart from her daughter Marnie who is studying in Hong Kong. Livia is relieved Marnie won’t be at the party as she knows something about her that she needs to tell Adam, but knows it will ruin her party so is going to tell him afterwards.

Adam also has a secret he needs to tell Livia and this will not only ruin the party but will devastate all their lives. All he needs to do is get through the evening and then he can unburden himself to his family.

This is such a great book, it’s told from Adam and Livia’s point of view leading up and the night of party.

As always B.A Paris has wowed me with another incredible book!! My heart was pounding during the party as the tension was rising and I knew the secrets were going to be revealed. I felt every emotion possible reading this. A heart wrenching tale about friendship, relationships, loss and how sometimes we really don’t know what’s best for someone else after all!!

This book will stay a long time in my heart, makes me realise you shouldn’t take life for granted!!

This is such a great story that it would make an amazing film.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,259 reviews2,943 followers
January 17, 2020
When I find out B.A. Paris has a new book coming out, I get giddy. When I actually get the book in my hands and sit down to read it, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. I just have so much fun reading her books, and this one was no exception. I wouldn't say any of her books are perfect and I realize she is not everyone's cup of tea, but an amazing reading experience always counts for something and that's why I'm placing this in the 5 star category. When you can set aside your everyday life problems and get lost in a book, it's really what reading is all about, or at least that's my opinion.

I 100% agree with other reviewers who said this book is a bit different than anything she has written before. I don't want to get into spoilers and I do think the less you know going in, the better. If you can appreciate a slow paced story this might be the book for you because most of it takes place over the course of a day. Livia got married and had her kids at a young age. Now that she is turning 40, she wants to finally do something special for herself, so she throws a big party to celebrate her birthday. This party has been in the works for a long time and she doesn't want anything to ruin the day, so she thinks it's best to just wait until after the party to share a secret with Adam, her husband. Adam has something rather important to tell Livia as well, but he knows how important the party is to her so he's going to have to decide when to drop the bombshell. The story alternates between Livia and Adam on the day of the birthday party.

So who is most likely to enjoy this book? Well, if you have liked other books by the author, than give this one a chance but just go in knowing that it is different from her other novels. (And yes I wish I didn't have to be so vague, but trust me, you don't want to know too much ahead of time.) If you aren't a B.A. Paris fan, than I highly doubt this is going to be the book that changes your opinion about her writing. For as many readers as I know who love her books, there's a decent amount of people who don't, and that's perfectly fine. We all have certain writers we love, and that's definitely the case for me with this author. She manages to always keep things interesting and I seriously can't wait to check out her next book! (Am I going to have to wait until 2021?)

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
1,978 reviews503 followers
January 4, 2020
Where do you start with a book like The ? BA Paris is a wonderful writer, and this books give you all the feels. It is an emotional rollercoaster so have those tissues ready. It is also a tough book to review without giving the plot away. And trust me, you don't want this book to be spoilt before you read it. It was also another book that is hard to put down once you start, the story will have you staying up way too late to find out what happens.

Livia is about to turn 40. She has been planning her 40th birthday party forever and it is going to be the party to end all parties. When she married Adam young and pregnant her parents turned their back on them. Their wedding was not the wedding that young girls dream of and she wants her party to make up for that day. She has everything planned and the only thing missing is her daughter Marnie, who is studying in Hong Kong. But Livia and Adam are keeping secrets from each other - secrets that will break them. How do they tell each other - and when? What would you do? Spoil the party that has been the focus of your life for so long or keep the secrets for a little while longer?

Thanks to Harlequin Books for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
Profile Image for Julie (JuJu).
578 reviews185 followers
January 11, 2020
”An angel walking to the Devil’s beat.”

Beautiful saying for a tattoo!

Dilemma is the perfect title for this book...well maybe Dilemmas would have been more appropriate! It’s an emotional tear-jerker that touches on sensitive subjects and pulls at your heartstrings.

4 💔 ⭐️’s for this family drama—with more than one dilemma—that is told through alternating chapters by Liv and Adam. Parents of Marnie and Josh. They pour out their deepest feelings and private struggles to us...but not each other. Once revealed, will their secrets tear them apart or bring them closer together? Read it and find out!

It was original, intense and hard-to-put-down, but slightly drawn out. I would have preferred a shorter book, with less repetition.

My Rating: 4 ⭐️’s

Published: January 23rd 2020 by HQ
Pages: 384

Recommend: Yes! If you are looking for an emotional family drama, this is the book!

Thank you to NetGalley, HQ and B. A. Paris for this digital ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion!

@BAParisAuthor @HQstories

#familydrama #tearjerker #originalpremise #TheDilemma
Profile Image for Mark.
1,098 reviews
November 29, 2019

I have one!
A dilemma
( apart from constantly spelling it with 1 m )
My dilemma is what to say about and what to mark this book
Firstly I am not going to give away any of the plot except to say ‘Dilemma’ is 352 pages of focused dilemma (s)
Words to describe it would be:
Claustrophobic, irritating, suspenseful, aggravating, wonderful, dark and upsetting!
Also at times repetitive
But boy did it drag you in, coax you to stay, involve you and make you tense at the same time as frustrating you
At times I wanted the ‘Dilemma’ in its gaining parts to ‘all come out’ and be solved, other times I wanted it to go away and be gone, pretty much like some of the character’s were feeling throughout
Fascinatingly written
‘The Dilemma’ is all its meant to be and maybe some its not

Am not sure what to mark it tbh so will go for a
4 Stars
Profile Image for ScrappyMags.
597 reviews243 followers
June 28, 2020
Dive down deep into marriage...

Shortest summary ever: Livia has waited 20 years for her 40th birthday party - sort of the wedding she never had since she married so young. But on the cusp of the party, she’s keeping a secret. Her husband is keeping a secret. Secrets are going to collide...

Thoughts: This book has stayed with me since I finished it - in fact I’d label it more psychological than mystery because it delves into a marriage and how secrets are handled - massive secrets, the whys, whats, and hows, and begs the reader to ask “what would I do?” And I think that’s the most interesting part, because the truth is - we don’t know. No spoilers here - but it’s one of those books you’ll either scream “no one would do that!” Or you’ll pause and think “what would I do?” 🤔 and truly pause to consider the characters and their motivations, Paris does a phenomenal job there - peeking in at motivation, how love makes us protective and how we make decisions.

All my reviews available at scrappymags.com

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/psychological thriller

Recommend to: Those looking for a “what would I do” experience.

Not recommended to: those looking for a “who-done-it”

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press and B. A. Paris for an advanced copy. Happy to provide my honest review. Note my parents - married 56 years were very happy to answer some “what would you do” questions regarding this book! 😲😲😲
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,318 reviews4,843 followers
January 17, 2022

Livia grew up in London with rather distant parents, but has good memories of the hours she and her mother spent perusing bridal magazines. Livia and her mother would look at the dresses and cakes and flower arrangements, and mom would talk about the wonderful wedding she and her husband would make Livia one day.

Livia dreamed about this wedding all through adolescence, making plans for the wonderful celebration.

Then Livia got pregnant at seventeen, and not only was there no big wedding, but Livia's parents cut her off completely. Instead of a lavish affair, Livia and her boyfriend Adam had a 15-minute ceremony in the local registry office.

Livia felt cheated out of her extravagant shindig, and by the time she was twenty, started making plans for a big bash on her fortieth birthday. Livia saved up money, little by little, and - over the years - made plans for the festivities: food, drinks, decorations, clothing, guests, and so on.

Now Livia's fortieth birthday has arrived, and the party is a go.

In their private lives Livia and her husband Adam are happily married after a rough start.

They have two grown children: 22-year-old Josh, who's in digital marketing.....

.....and 19-year-old Marnie, who's studying in Hong Kong. Unfortunately Marnie has finals and can't get back for her mom's party, but promises to visit when the semester ends.

Adam - who feels guilty about his immature behavior early in the marriage - is totally on board with his wife's celebration. Adam helps with the preparations, buys Livia a lovely gift, and even plans a HUGE surprise for the evening of the wingding.

As things turn out, both Adam and Livia are harboring BIG secrets on the day of the party, secrets that might derail the festivities. Thus, the spouses are determined to stay mum until the celebration ends. Adam wants Livia to have the party of her dreams, and Livia wants to enjoy this last blowout with her best friends....one of whom has multiple sclerosis.

The narrative unfolds in one-hour-increments on the day of the party, in the alternating voices of Livia and Adam. Livia spends the afternoon at a spa with her friends, then tries to enjoy the evening.....

.....and Adam frets all through the day and night.

The premise of the book is intriguing, but I have several problems with the plot.

⦿ Outside of a novel, I don't think people would behave like Livia and Adam. In real life, people would spill the beans pretty quickly.

⦿ Whenever Adam or Livia is about to disclose something important, they're distracted by someone or something. This seems like the dramatic version of a comedy farce.

⦿ The details about the protagonists' minute to minute activities gets a bit tedious.

That said, I'm in the minority, and many people loved this book. So you might want to give it a try if the premise interests you.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (B.A. Paris), and the publisher (St. Martin's Press) for a copy of the book.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Linda.
1,195 reviews1,243 followers
May 6, 2020
Seriously sayin'........

I am a big fan of the talented B.A. Paris. I have read all her books. From all indications, The Dilemma certainly was just that. A fork in the road in which one must decide whether or not to proceed. It felt like this one was from the early years of trial and error and put away in a drawer. Certainly not from the pen of B.A. Paris.

We find ourselves in the presence of Livia who is soaking in a luxurious bath along with her adult dream of conducting a lavish 40th birthday party in her backyard garden. Livia has been obsessed with the idea since she was married so young at eighteen and never had a formal wedding. She envisions herself in a cream colored gown with a bouquet of roses. She's saved for this event over the years. This is all that Livia can think of and she wants you to do the same as well.

Not to be outdone, husband Adam regrets never becoming a civil engineer because of his early marriage to Livia who was pregnant with son Josh. He mopes about his shed bogged down by the shoulda, coulda, woulda plague for twenty years now. But he's indulged himself in a splendid motor bike to take the edge off. Let Livia have her little celebration.

On the sidelines are the two children of theirs: Josh age 22 who feels his father's anguish on a daily basis and Marnie who is the apple of her father's eye at age 19 and living in Hong Kong. Josh has been offered an internship in New York City and Marnie will be traveling throughout Asia.

I sit here perplexed as to what is about to unravel from this ball of yarn. Characters make or break a story, simply said. I have never come across such self-indulged people within one family. They took all the oxygen page after page. There's nothing like leaning on the reader with episode after episode of how these characters were cheated in life by their own chosen decisions. The Blame Game is played with gigantic plastic pieces on a wide board that covers just about everything.

But added into this mix is a Greek tragedy played non-stop by one of these characters. We are expected to applaud this fine example of "self-sacrifice" which isn't even that. Faulty decisions and faulty full-on actions. Let the music play on. Some may get caught up in the tension of "the secret". Lesson learned: You'll miss out on a whole lotta life by only looking within. A sack of very sad characters. I'm going to be on the lookout for my B.A. Paris in the next one. I miss her.

I received a copy of The Dilemma through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to B.A. Paris for the opportunity.

Profile Image for Georgina.
344 reviews12 followers
December 11, 2019
It’s finally here. The day Livia has been planning for the best part of the last two decades: her 40th birthday party. Livia and her husband Adam should be full of excitement that the long awaited event is finally here, but instead they both find themselves wrestling with dark secrets. What do you do if you know something that will change your spouses life forever? That is the dilemma.

This seems to be a bit of a marmite book, and sadly for me I’m firmly on the side of not enjoying it at all. I found it irritating, dull, and depressing. The rest of this review will contain spoilers, so please don’t read beyond this point if you’ve not read the book!


Ok, so the book starts on the morning of Livia’s 40th birthday party (no, not a typo, she is Livia not Olivia), an event she has been planning for years. And no, not vaguely thinking she might like a party, but actually squirelling money away each month to make sure she can have the party to end all parties. She even picks the house they move into when the kids (son Josh and daughter Marnie) are tiny as the garden would be ideal for the party. Personally, I found the whole thing completely bizarre, but hey, maybe it's just me?

So anyway, the book is broken down into time periods, alternating between the perspectives of the husband and wife (for example, 8:00am - 9:00am, Adam). Sometimes this way of writing works really well, but in this case I found it just made everything feel very dragged out. The book might only span a day, but it felt a lot longer. So a lot of the book really is filler: getting the party set up, and a lot of chat that isn’t that important. The main reason you want to keep reading is the secrets the couple are keeping, which thankfully are revealed relatively early on. Livia is reeling from having discovered that her daughter Marnie is having an affair with family friend Rob, who is also the father of her best friend. She knows she should tell Adam, as he and Rob are friends, but struggles with it, especially as Marnie miscarried Rob’s baby the summer before – another thing that Adam is unaware of.

Now, all of this pales into insignificance when you discover Adam’s plight, which is really the main dilemma of the book. As a treat for his wife, he’s arrange for daughter Marnie to fly home from her studies in Hong Kong as a special surprise. But his joy turns to horror when he finds out that the plane she was meant to be on has crashed, leaving no survivors. There is some hope though - her connecting flight was delayed, so there is a chance she wasn’t on the plane. He decides to wait to find out for certain until after he’s spoken to Livia, but then spends the whole day finding reasons to avoid doing so.

To be fair, this did have some potential at first, when you’re waiting to find out the secrets. But once you realise what they are, you know two things – firstly, its absurd to think that they wouldn’t tell each other, especially Adam: who the hell doesn’t tell his wife that their kid might be dead?! Secondly, it becomes the longest most dragged out experience ever as they both kept finding excuses not to say anything. Basically, this was one of those books where you feel like you're waiting for something to happen, and it just never does. There’s no real tension in the pacing, so it’s long and dragged out and just feels very flat. By the time you find out Marnie’s fate (she made it onto the plane) there is absolutely no surprise in her presumed death (which is confirmed in the epilogue). It sounds cold to say, but it just felt like a massive anticlimax.

Now, family dramas always include some sort of odd dynamic, and in this in book, there is a very obvious problem in the form of Adam blatantly favouring Marnie over Josh. Adam and Josh have a challenging relationship - Adam didn't cope well with the shock of becoming a father, and their relationship never fully recovered. To me, this was just idiotic. At the end of the day, Adam is the parent, and to let the fact that he was young when his first child was born still be affecting their relationship now is ridiculous, and spoke of an immaturity and selfishness that I could not understand. Especially when it is revealed that their frostiness really stems from one major event when Josh was a child, in which Adam was a complete bully, which he then followed up with years of caution and distance. And to be honest, I'm not surprised Josh took issue with his father – Adam makes his resentment towards his son clear, and at the start of the book, he basically says that, in his mind, Josh came along first and ruined his life, and then Marnie being born a few years later somehow managed to make everything perfect. I know a lot of parent's have favourites, but the way this was written just felt weird. Especially at the beginning of the book, the way Adam talks about Marnie is almost like he is infatuated with her, and it all felt a bit uncomfortable to me, especially when contrasted with the clear resentment Adam feels towards his son. If i’m honest, there were a few points when Marnie’s pregnancy was revealed that I worried about who the father could be – that’s how strong his infatuation is.

All in all, this was completely not what I expected. For an author who is clearly so skilled at creating genuinely tense and gripping psychological thrillers, I was surprised to see her turn her hand to a rather lacklustre family drama. If I’m honest, I think the real weakness of this book was the shallowness of the characters. Both parents are so damn obsessed with the party, and lets be honest, even if it has been 20 years in the making it is absurd to allow a birthday party to take precedence over dealing with your friend shagging your barely adult child, or finding out whether that child is actually alive or was killed in a terrible plane crash. Essentially, this is a book of two awful people finding excuses to avoid telling each other very important things. And it is every bit as dull, aggravating and flat out ridiculous as it sounds.

Disclaimer - I was provided with an advance reading copy by NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews93 followers
May 4, 2020
First of all, I am completely baffled all these high ratings. It heavily pains me, as a B.A. Paris’s fan, to give this book a 3. It was almost 2 stars but the writing style saved it. I was frustratingly invested all through out because deep down I was waiting something monumental to happen. This is anything but a mystery or thriller! It felt like a Colleen Hoover book. And I don’t even like her books well except for Verity. This is just sad, depressing and annoying at times. My huge problem is this: Why couldn’t they just communicate? The characters are adults not teenagers.
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