Review: The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

The DilemmaThe Dilemma by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

B.A. Paris, my Queen.

Although very different from her prior works, I still really enjoyed this. 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 one day. The day of Livia’s much anticipated 40th birthday party.

Adam and Livia were married very young and never had the chance to have the wedding of her dreams.

She has always looked 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 has a life-changing secret as well that he is choosing to keep from her.

The narrative alternates between the two as they struggle with their decisions to keep such important facts secret from one another. It is very introspective in a lot of ways, but 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 what those secrets could mean for the family as a whole.

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 one 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 come to light.

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

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

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

B.A. Paris has a fan in me for life. I will always pick up every single thing 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. This was absolutely one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it did not disappoint.

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Review: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

The Missing YearsThe Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A delightful tale of suspense with surprising twists!

After Ailsa Calder’s mother dies, she inherits the Manse in the Scottish Highlands in which she grew up. Well, half of it anyway.

Upon going to settle the estate, she is told that the other half is owned by her father, a man missing for the last 27-years.

The real kicker, although Ailsa wants nothing more than to sell the property, having no desire to leave her posh London-life behind, she can’t.

In order to do so, she will have to have him legally declared dead. A bureaucratic nightmare perfect for the bereaved.

While she handles that whole mess, she relocates to the Manse, along with her half-sister, Carrie, who she really has no relationship with.

It doesn’t take long after arriving at the remote location before it becomes clear to Ailsa that someone doesn’t want her there.

When intruders show up in the night and the house begins to rebel against her, Ailsa feels like she is coming unhinged. She tries to keep it together and bond with her sister but so much is going wrong, she is literally at wits end.

Tie in an interesting group of side characters and a looming sense of dread and you have yourself a taut little suspense novel!

There is a constant back and forth of, is it supernatural, is it not, that I absolutely loved. I went into this without the highest of expectations and I have to say, I was most pleasantly surprised.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a wonderful job making me feel like I was included in the action.

The pacing was fantastic and it kept me wanting more the entire way through.

This was my first Lexie Elliott but definitely will not be my last!

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Review: The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect SonThe Perfect Son by Lauren North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Upon waking in the hospital, Tess Clarke, has one thought on her mind: she must find her son! Something happened on the day of his birthday party. She can’t recall exactly what but it ended with her being stabbed and Jamie being gone.

The format was interesting. We have excerpts of interviews between Tess and her doctor, interviews with two individuals tied to the incident, and the bulk of the story told through flashbacks of the days leading up to the big event.

We discover that Tess had been struggling the past few months with extreme grief. Her husband had recently passed in a terrible accident and she was having a very difficult time with every day life. You come to understand fairly quickly that Tess is an unreliable narrator at best.

A grief counselor, hired by her family, arrives at her cottage one day and begins to aid Tess with her healing. The two quickly form a close bond and before you know it, Shelly, seems more of a friend that a professional service provider.

Tess also has her brother-in-law, Ian, sniffing about, seemingly obsessed with his brother’s estate. He claims that her husband owed him a bunch of money but Tess can find no evidence of that in their finances.

She begins to suspect him of some suspicious activities going on at the house that are really scaring her. What is he after really?

While I did enjoy the format and the pacing was nice and steady, I was completely bummed that I knew the twist to this 35% in. It definitely had an affect on my opinion of this story. The writing was good, just really predictable for me.

It hurts my heart as I was looking forward to this so much!

^^^Literally me upon completion: drinking my whiskey, sadly let down by the whole experience.

This being said, while the overall plot and reveal didn’t work for me, I did see a lot of promise in North’s writing and I would absolutely pick up future works by her. I look forward to it actually!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: A Stranger On The Beach by Michele Campbell

A Stranger on the BeachA Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Caroline and Jason Stark have been married for 20-years. Like most couples, their relationship has had its ups-and-downs. Lately, more down than up.

With their only child, Hannah, recently off to college, and Jason traveling a lot more for work, Caroline focuses most of her energy on building her dream house in the Hamptons.

After the lavish beach house is completed, Caroline decides to throw a house warming party, inviting all of their rich and influential friends. Unfortunately, Jason tells Caroline he is stuck at a ‘work thing’ and will be unable to attend.

She’s saddened by this news, as she was really hoping to reconnect with him and show off the beautiful home, no small accomplishment. Then in a jaw-dropping turn of events, Jason does arrive at the house…(view spoiler)!!!

As you can imagine, the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Days after wallowing in it, Caroline gets herself up, out of the house and straight to a popular local watering hole. Once there, she recognizes the guy behind the bar. He was actually the bartender provided by the catering company on the night of her ill-fated house warming.

Instead of cowering in embarrassment, she decides to embrace it and proceeds to flirt with him all night whilst getting elbows deep in some vodka sodas.

Enter Aidan Callahan. Young and handsome with a troubled past. What could go wrong?

For his part, Aidan seems to like Caroline a little too much. Before she knows it, he is everywhere. She can’t get rid of him but is this your typical stalker behavior or is it more?

Alternating between Caroline and Aidan’s perspectives, this book is so full of twists and turns, you won’t know who to believe. The truth is hidden in here somewhere but you’d be hard-pressed to discover it! This story is so gripping, so chilling; a true tale of suspense.

I loved the format of this. I think Campbell’s choices in the development of this story were close to perfection. For the first 3/4 of the book, you are getting that twisted back-and-forth perspective and then suddenly…the main event.

The the final 1/4 follows new perspectives of the investigators called in to discover the truth. I thought this was unique and really well played.

In the end, I was satisfied with the conclusion. The one small criticism I had was that once you got to the investigation portion of the story, with the evidence put forth early on, it’s pretty clear what actually happened. I am not sure too many people will be fooled at that point but regardless, really well written, great characters, fast-paced, gripping; I really, really liked it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Michele Campbell is definitely one of my go-to authors. I love her storytelling. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, this is definitely a great one to start with and perfect for summer fun!!

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