I’ve come to expect certain things from a B.A. Paris novel. Vivid characters, with at least one who will be distinctly unlikable from the start. A plot that initially feels very straightforward, that makes you think you know what’s going on, only to realize you don’t. An event that lingers in the back of your mind at all times, creating an aura of suspense that alters your perception of everything you read. And finally, the lifting of that suspense, and resolutions you somehow didn’t expect despite your wildest imaginings.
Paris delivers on all counts with The Dilemma, a book that is as well written as it is perfectly titled.
The bulk of the book is set before and during Livia’s 40th birthday party. It’s a grand event that she’s been planning for twenty years, after being denied the big wedding she once thought she’d have. Her family—husband Adam, son Josh, and daughter Marnie—knows how important the party is to Livia, and they’re determined to make Livia’s dreams come true when their friends and family gather on her special night. It’s a gathering bursting with secrets, though, and some of them have nothing to do with the party.
A layered foundation of suspense has the reader constantly pondering several small mysteries involving multiple characters. Some of these things are rooted in the past, in the early years of Adam and Livia’s marriage, while others began fairly recently. Tantalizing tidbits are placed throughout, giving the reader just enough information to move the story forward without giving anything away before its appropriate time. This gradual building of suspense paid off fantastically each time a mystery was solved. Every reveal was a blow that forced you to reconsider everything you thought you knew, because it affected the overall plot (as well as specific characters) in a major way.
Nearing the point of the final revelation, I thought I knew what was going to happen. It seemed so clear to me that it was the only thing that could happen, that I must be correct. Except I wasn’t… not even close. Wow… just wow. Just when I thought I could finally get off my perch at the edge of my seat, I found myself right back on it in a big way. Brava!
With strong characters, both plot and sub-plots full of intrigue, and a well-executed finale, The Dilemma is sure to please both fans of Paris’s previous novels as well as readers discovering her for the first time. Highly recommended.
About the Book
A woman’s birthday party takes a dark turn in a poignant, heart-stopping new novel from the reigning queen of suspense, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors.
Livia is finally having the birthday party she always dreamed of. When she and her husband Adam fell pregnant as teenagers, she was disowned by her parents. Their marriage has had its ups and downs, but now, twenty years on, they are blissfully happy now with their two grown-up children, Josh and Marnie. And tonight, Adam is throwing Livia the party of a lifetime, to make up for the fairytale wedding they could never have.
Marnie has been studying abroad and can’t make it to the party. Livia can’t help but be slightly grateful for this, as she’s recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. For just one night, Livia wants everything to be perfect.
Adam, meanwhile, has set up another surprise for his wife: Marnie will be secretly flying back for the family celebration. But soon it emerges that Adam is faced with a dilemma of his own, and he too may have to keep a terrible secret. After all, if you could give the person you love the most in the world a few more hours of happiness, you would . . . wouldn’t you? As the day of the party dawns, one thing is clear: Marnie’s arrival could shatter everything.
About the Author
B.A. PARIS grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters.