Book Club: In At The Deep End

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

Author: Penelope Janu
ISBN: 9781489214492
RRP: $29.99

In At The Deep End is the debut novel of Australian Penelope Janu, who we recently interviewed as part of the blog tour for the release.

The story is a fantastic mix of humour, tension, romance and environmental issues and the bulk of it is set on the gorgeous beaches of Sydney.

Harriet Scott is a geography teacher, member of The Scott Foundation and passionate environmentalist. We meet her on the deck of the foundation’s ship The Watch, which is sinking in the waters off Antarctica. She is rescued by Commander Per Amundsen and we discover that she can’t swim. It is understandable that Commander Amundsen is less than impressed with this information because it certainly does seem very irresponsible to be in the middle of the ocean when you can’t swim and are not wearing a life jacket. Of course it isn’t as simple as that and as we get to know Harriet better we come to understand why she can’t swim.

The only child of famous adventurers Harriet is fiercely independent and has had an unconventional upbringing and education. She is a complex and fascinating character with more than her fair share of baggage. Losing her mum in a car accident at 14, and then her father at 18, has left her independent but deeply scarred. She is passionate about the work the foundation her father set up does and is happily in the public eye, as long as the media understands that her private life is off limits; not that she is left with much time for a private life after her commitments at school, her commitments with the foundation and the time she spends with old family friend Drew.

Commander Per Amundsen is an officer with the Norwegian navy as well as an environmental scientist, he is in the area conducting a scientific study which is interrupted by the mayday call of The Watch. Unhappy with the premature end to his study the Commander starts proceedings against Harriet to assist him in getting a new ship to continue his study, beginning with mediation. The Commander is an enigmatic character with secrets of his own and he’s quite protective of them.

It seems that both Harriet and Per want the same thing, a new ship to continue their important environmental work but the only way they can achieve this is by working together; which is not going to be an easy task if the sparks that fly between them are anything to go by. There are sparks of lust and then there’s sparks of antagonism and it’s often hard to tell which are which with these two.

The mystery of Harriet’s fear of water, what went wrong on The Watch and the Commander’s secrets all unfold slowly throughout the story. Harriet is determined to take part in the expeditions on the new ship but the Commander won’t even allow that to be considered unless Harriet learns to swim and I found that process fascinating to be involved in.

The environment is a large factor in the story and it isn’t by chance that our leads are Scott and Amundsen, they are both descended from the explorers Scott and Amundsen who competed to reach the South Pole first early in the 20th Century. This is a fantastic element to highlight to help with fundraising and to draw comparisons between current events (and explorers) and their ancestors.

Scattered throughout the narrative are blog posts that Harriet writes for The Scott Foundation website which talk about the original explorers and help to fuel the banter between Harriet and the Commander.

In At The Deep End is captivating and engaging, the characterisations are complex and detailed resulting in characters who are deeply flawed but fascinating. It isn’t just Harriet and Per either, the cast of supporting characters are also interesting and varied.

I loved this book and it was the perfect read to follow on from a couple that hit a little close to home. I look forward to seeing if we will find out more about Harriet and Per in Janu’s next book which will feature Per’s twin brother.

Penelope Janu can be followed on Facebook and her

In At The Deep End is book #4 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

In At The Deep End is published in February by Harlequin and available from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading In At The Deep End so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

22 thoughts on “Book Club: In At The Deep End

  1. Great book!!! It’s got it all tragedy love and fear. It was easy to read and when I put it down I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Wonderful characters and a hot and spicy romance I recommend this book to anyone xxx

  2. Great book!!! It’s got it all tragedy love and fear. It was easy to read and when I put it down I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Wonderful characters and a hot and spicy romance I recommend this book to anyone xxx grab a glass of wine get comfortable and enjoy this fantastic book.

  3. Harriet Scott has led a rather rackety life, dragged around the world by her environmentalist parents. In many ways it was a wonderful way to grow up, but it ended in a tragedy that has left her emotionally and mentally scarred a decade later. She is now a geography teacher, but continues to work as a volunteer for the environmental foundation her parents established.
    In At The Deep End is a clever tale of accidental love . It is well worth the read dive in deep and take a chance on this refreshing novel

    1. Your review consists entirely of a quote stolen from my review, and one stolen from Amanda Barrett’s review. Do you have an opinion of your own?

  4. I really enjoyed Penelope Janu’s In at The Deep End thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books.

    The historical connection with Scott and Amundsen was very interesting and I loved hearing about Harry’s earlier adventures with her parents and Drew. Her upbringing and the tragic accident has left her in a highly unusual position but she seems to be handling it with strength and grace. It did bother me that she was a few times portrayed as helpless, but she was at times also quite frustrating and impulsive. What bothered me more were the threats made against her by Per early in the book. Nevertheless as Per’s character grew somewhat I warmed to him more and who doesn’t enjoy having a good looking Norwegian commander around?!

    The environmental themes throughout the book I found relevant and fascinating.

    I would have liked to know what happened with Liam as he certainly seemed to have a thing for Harry and also what happens to Harry and Per and the foundation after Antarctica. Hopefully some of this may become clear in the next book!

    Overall I found this a fabulous dose of escapism and without thinking too critically I thoroughly enjoyed the romance. Thanks very much to Harlequin Books and of course Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review In at The Deep End!!

  5. The front cover of In At The Deep End by Penelope Janu describes the book as “a quick witted romantic comedy about losing your cool.” This combined with the pictures of a swimming dog (labelled hopeless romantic) the head and shoulders of a dark haired attractive man rising from the sea (labelled control freak) and in the forefront a young attractive blonde haired woman (labelled trouble) drew me to the book with anticipation.

    Harriet Hillary Amelia Scott (preferred name Harry) was raised by her environmental scientist parents on board the ship The Watch while travelling the world as they made documentaries. On board as second in command was her father’s boyhood friend Drew McLeish. When Harry was 14 she and her parents were involved in a tragic accident that killed her mother and left her father a quadriplegic. Not long before her father died he set up The Scott Foundation, putting most of his assets into it and giving it ownership and control of The Watch. Her father’s death also left Harry without an obvious source of income and so she became a geography teacher, with a penchant for realistic and sometimes caustic illustrations. Drew took over as commander of The Watch and retained a fatherly relationship with Harry.

    The story begins with Harry in Antarctica aboard The Watch as it is sinking, she has ensured the rest of the crew have got off safely and yet despite being unable to swim she is clinging to the bridge without a life jacket on. It is under this scenario that she meets Commander Per Amundsen who “gallantly” puts his scientific study in jeopardy to rescue her.

    From this promising beginning the story line and characterisation for me became alternately irritating and frustrating. Per wants Harry to provide him with a new ship so he can resume his scientific studies, Harry comes up with a compromise idea which would involve her and Per playing on the Scott Amundsen names and raising funds through the foundation for a new ship. Per is determined not to let Harry anywhere near any new ship, and doesn’t want to be involved with any fundraising. In the meantime both of them are tiptoeing around each other in a love hate relationship, both refusing to communicate anything about their feelings or secrets to the other and both behaving like spoiled brats.

    We are half way through the book before we discover what actually happened in the accident in Brazil and get some explanation of Harry’s phobic reaction to water (although I found it hard to make sense of the explanation of what occurred – but as that would be a spoiler I won’t go into that here, suffice to say it reinforced my frustration with the story line).

    I did enjoy the references to the original Scott and Amundsen expeditions and explanations as to what went right and wrong with them and thought this was integrated well into the story.

    Sadly I missed the humor in the book that others who have reviewed the book obviously found, but that is just indicative of the different responses that people have to humor and books in general.

    Overall I spent most of the book wanting to give Harry a slap and tell her to grow up, others have commented that she is only young, but at 26 and with the upbringing she had I would have expected a greater level of maturity from her. Per came across as a self centered narcissist alternating between iceman and action hero. The only character I really related well to was Drew and I thought Janu handled his demise into dementia sensitively and accurately.

    While I personally did not enjoy the book I can see that it is a book that would appeal to many and I would encourage others to read it if they have the opportunity. Many thank to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin books for the opportunity to read and review In At The Deep End.

  6. Another book that I found quite enjoyable maybe because I am expecting a sequel to finish of parts of the story.

    It had everything romance intrigue humour & a dash of sexy scenes with strong characters that clashed with each other both being strong willed but I liked it & would recommend it to family & friends.

  7. Thank you for the opportunity to read “In At the Deep End” by Penelope Janu. It’s a story with a mix of history, emotions, environmental elements and romance.

    Harriet Scott (Harry) is a determined young woman, brave but does come across as a little immature at times. Harry was raised by her environmental scientist parents on board the ship “The Watch”, travelling the world making documentaries. After a tragic accident when Harriet was 14 life changed for her when her mum died and her dad was left a quadriplegic. Before her dad’s death he set up the Scott Foundation. Harriet is a geography teacher, but also works as a volunteer for the foundation that her dad established.

    When Harry is rescued by Commander Per Amundsen a Norwegian naval officer when “The Watch” sinks her whole world is turned upside down. Due to the sinking of the ship Per had to halt his scientific studies and blames Harry for been incompetent. Per wants Harry to provide him with a new ship to enable him to finish his studies but through a series of events with highs and low a new ship is eventually found and his studies are completed. It’s interesting that Harry believes Per is a total control freak and Per believes Harry is an accident waiting to happen. Both Harry and Per have secrets from their past, and both need to get past their emotions and believe in each other.

    I found the ending of the book a little disappointing as it left many questions unanswered, but having said that I really did enjoy the book. Maybe there will be a sequel!

  8. I really enjoyed reading In At The Deep End by Penelope Janu.
    It was lovely to have a different take on the modern day romance.
    The story surrounding Harriet Scott and Commander Per Amundsen is both fiery and enjoyable.
    Harriet is a women in her twenties living and working aboard a scientific ship called “The Watch” and Per a Norwegian Naval Officer that rescues her when her ship strikes trouble and sinks .
    I think we can all relate a little (or perhaps a lot) to our own relationships.
    Both are strong willed characters that clash often but are drawn to each other at the same time.
    While labelled a romance it is much more than that with adventure and secrets to be had.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for allowing me to read and review this novel.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to others that are looking for something a little different to your average romance novel

  9. i really enjoyed ‘In at The Deep End’ by Penelope Janu. It was both engaging and entertaining. It has a bit of everything, romance, relationships, mystery, as in, secrets, ecological issues and even a bit of history about explorers Scott and Amundsen.

    Both Harriet Hillary Amelia Scott and Per Amundsen are strong characters and this is evident in their dealings with each other.
    Per Amundsen rescues Harriet when the ship ‘The Watch’ she is working on runs into trouble and sinks. Per hasnto abandon his own research mission to do this and is not feeling very friendly or sympathetic towards Harriet when they first meet. In fact he tries to sue her until she comes up with a plan to help them both.
    And so begins their strange and complex relationship. One that will not progress until each overcomes their fear and shares the ‘secrets’ they are trying so hard to hold on to.
    i really love the way Janu explores and develops the relationship of this couple. I really couldn’t wait for them to finally get together.
    My only criticism, and it is minor, is the cover of the book. I’m not sure what it is but something doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t honk it does the book justice. Not sure what would be more appropriate , perhaps one of Harriet’s sketches of Per? Something a bit more serious? Not sure.
    To finish off I’d like to say again that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and can’t wait to read Penelope Janu’s next offering.

    Thank you to Harlequin and Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this novel.

  10. Thanks again to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to review this book. Its always exciting opening a package with a new book.

    I totally loved this book ! It was your Total Romantic Comedy all wrapped into one. I loved the two characters Per and Hariett. She the independant woman who wants to take on the world and he who is the protective hero and wants to save the world. The environmental issues discussed in this book was a great highlight which made the book more interesting.

    Even though the book had some tragic events, it was a light hearted and an easy read which i could not put down.

    Congratulations Penelope Janu on this novel. Looking forward to reading more books from yourself. How about a sequel to this book, i am sure many of us readers would like to know if Per’s and Harriet’s first born will be a boy or girl.

    I hope Harriet can continue her adventure……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *