All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: In At The Deep End by Penelope Janu

on January 27, 2017

in-at-the-deep-endIn At The Deep End
Penelope Janu
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2017, 340p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

What woman doesn’t love a real-life hero? Harriet Scott, for one. The fiercely independent daughter of famous adventurers, she grew up travelling the world on the environmental flagship The Watch. So when Harriet’s ship sinks in Antarctica and she has to be rescued by Commander Per Amundsen, an infuriatingly capable Norwegian naval officer and living breathing action hero, her world is turned upside down.

Like their namesakes, the original Scott and Amundsen who competed to reach the South Pole first, Per and Harriet have different ways of doing things. Per thinks Harriet is an accident waiting to happen; Harriet thinks Per is a control freak. But when Harriet realises that Per is the only one who can help her fund the new ship she desperately wants, she is forced to cooperate with him.

Per refuses to assist unless Harriet allows him to teach her to swim. But there is more to Harriet’s terrible fear of water than meets the eye. Can Harriet face her fears and come to terms with the trauma and loss of her past? And will she begin to appreciate that some risks are well worth taking—and that polar opposites can, in fact, attract?

Eek, where to start?! This is one of my favourite reads so far this year. The sort of book I keep on hand for when I’m bored or need a bit of a pick me up. I can open it to anywhere and just start reading and sink back into the story.

Harriet is such an interesting character – her parents were environmentalists and adventurers, travelling the globe and taking Harriet with them. She never went to school, instead her education was conducted out in the field. She’s passionate about a lot of things, especially continuing the work of the Scott Foundation. Harriet provides a very public face, giving the public donating their money something to connect with. Her life has always been public and it’s something she’s used to, although she does have her boundaries.

By contrast, Commander Per Amundsen is controlled, methodical and unimpressed with what he sees as Harriet’s impetuousness. Forced to work together for mutual benefit, the chemistry between Harriet and Per is off the charts. Harriet isn’t always an easy person to be around – she struggles with a very real and terrifying phobia and often she lashes out when dealing with that. It’s clear that whatever happened to Harriet to bring on this phobia was incredibly bad and it’s still affecting her many, many years later. Some of those scenes….poor Harriet! I’ve never experienced anything quite like that before, I felt for her. And I admired her, because no matter how horrific it was, she kept going. Although she has tried avoidance tactics before and probably given up ever finding a way to overcome her fear (and she is kind of manipulated into trying again) she shows a real determination and her willingness to put herself through what had to be a sort of hell showed a real personal strength. And that is Harriet in a nutshell probably….a vulnerable centre but strong and feisty.

This book has a lot of its story grounded in environmental issues and climate change. Harriet is an environmentalist and geography teacher who works tirelessly to raise awareness for environmental issues and Per is a scientist and naval officer who is going to drill ice cores in the Antarctic to find out information about climate changes. I really liked these aspects of the book – their interest in the environment is both a big part of who both Harriet and Per are. It also gives them something in common, albeit they approach their fields in very different ways.

There was just so much I loved about this….the opening scene is all action and definitely hooks the reader in but after that it’s almost more a journey of emotional strength and connection. Per and Harriet have scenes together that aren’t exactly what you’d call romantic in terms of what Per is helping her achieve but they do actually build a real bond underneath the awkwardness and some sexual tension. Harriet isn’t particularly experienced either so quite often she misses Per’s interest in her or mistakes it for something else. Per is really my sort of character  – I do love the tall, dark and silent type, the ones who come across as a bit abrupt at first but underneath are full of heart. He’s a little bit serious, a bit standoffish at times and I thought the Polarman references were cute and fun. Per speaks Norwegian a bit but you’re not left hanging, wondering what he’s saying because Harriet is always asking him how to say things and what is the meaning of what he just said, etc.

There are just books that tick all your boxes and come along at the right time and this is one of them. For me it was just a really well executed story with two main characters that sizzled and some good supporting characters as well. I cannot wait for Penelope Janu’s next book……especially as it’s going to feature Per’s identical twin brother! But while I wait for that, I think I’ll be re-reading this one a few more times!


Book #3 of 2017



7 responses to “Review: In At The Deep End by Penelope Janu

  1. Avonna says:

    Great review! Sounds really good.

  2. Lily Malone says:

    Wow! Awesome review. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one.

  3. Lauren K says:

    I loved this too!

  4. […] Thorne (my review) My favourite book of 2016. Love love love. In At The Deep End by Penelope Janu (my review) My most recent obsession. Like the two above, there’s a little of the uptight, controlled […]

  5. […] the Deep End by Penelope Janu was also very well received. Bree from 1girl2manybooks called it her favourite book of the year so far and enjoyed the story’s grounding in climate […]

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