Cover Image: Out of Her Depth

Out of Her Depth

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Member Reviews

2.5 stars

I found this book to be just ok. I read a fair bit of mystery/thriller novels and this one didn't really stick out in my mind in any way. It was interesting enough while i was reading it and kept me in the book but the details all just kind of disappeared after i finished it. 

I found that I didn't like any of the characters which i know happens sometimes in mystery books, but this seemed a little excessive. I think that the premise was promising, but the actual follow-through was just a little off. The dual timeline definitely kept my interest for a little while. Also i think that this book suffered from an everything and the kitchen sink kind of problem. There were so many twists just kind of thrown in for no reason.

Thank you to Netgalley and Mira for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Rachel takes a summer job at the Villa Medici hotel in Tuscan, Italy. In return she receives free room and board.
It's an opportunity of a lifetime for her. Here she finds herself drawn into the rich, entitled group of friends including Diana and Sebastian. Rachel is immediately drawn to Sebastian for his good looks and charm and Diana knows this. Diana shows her true colors by how she handles this situation and Rachel really starts to question her new friend.
When the new girl, Valentina, shows up things really start to go awry. Sebastian sets his sights on her and Diana wants to do everything she can to split them up. Would she even go as far as murder? I was able to peg the villian in this pretty quick and it was just a matter of time until the true story was revealed but it was a really good thriller!
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Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber starts with a dowdy private school teacher, horrified that after twenty-one years, an accused killer she knew well is being released from prison. After refusing to answer his letters, emails, or phone calls with his demands for her to help clear his name, Rachel finds herself reflecting back on the summer that ruined her life.

Rachel thinks that her summer in Florence is going to be a great experience before she starts a semester at Cambridge. Smart, but naive, Rachel becomes close friends with her glamorous coworker Diana, also working at the Villa Medici taking care of guests. Diana is rich, English, and always pushing the envelope. As she works to unravel Rachel's good-girl innocence, along comes Sebastian. Wealthy, and the godson of the Villa Medici's owner, the two soon are spending time with him at lavish parties and attending events that Rachel cannot afford. 

For people who love the book The Talented Mr. Ripley, Out of Her Depth has a similar flair. Lizzy Barber weaves a rich landscape of succulent meals, incredible landscapes, and the life of the wealthy. Diana is the kind of sloppy manipulative friend so many of us tumble into in our early twenties, so it's pretty easy to feel for Rachel in the beginning. Unfortunately, as the book goes on it becomes harder and harder to see Rachel's behaviors as any type of normal or justifiable. With such an intricately woven plot and fascinating characters, the ending feels a bit flat. Still, if you're looking for a strong beach read with hints of traumatic thriller, Out of Her Depth is a great place to begin.
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The concept and plot for this one seemed incredible and I couldn't wait to start reading this. 

But.....once I started I was uninterested so fast. I had little to no connection with the characters and you need to at least enjoy them to be able to fully enjoy a book. 

It was super jumpy and all over the place, I couldn't tell what was going on over half of the time, but it had so much potential in the description that I pushed forward.

In the end, there were really no thrillers or twists like the plot made it seem like it would be soooo here I am not really loving this but it was worth a shot.
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Out of Her Depth, is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time. This was a dramatic read that holds every key component to be fresh on the tongues of our active "bookstagram" community. I became completely consumed with the storyline and even wanted to punch a bratty kid or two. 

Something about kids and the sense of entitlement has a way of getting under my skin. Did I just become my mother? "Back in my day, we would have received a whopping if we spoke like that" . Yes, I think I just about sound like her (YIKES!) . 

Anyway, back to this anxiety attack of a back... 

Out of Her Depth's is narrated with perfection. Alternating between past and present, I was completely removed from reality and addicted to each flip of the page. The characters are multi-dimensional and the author did an incredible job giving you characters to love and relate to, and others you love to hate. 

I have never heard of Lizzy Barber before but if this is a preview of what is to come, I know I will be a big fan. I might even say this was one of my most favored books for the month of July. 

Buy the book, you do not want to miss this one
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Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber is a suspenseful thriller novel. The story in Out of Her Depth is one that is told by alternating timelines with one from the past, around twenty years before and one in the current time.

During the summer before Rachel begins her time at university she is given an opportunity to travel to Tuscany. Rachel will spend that summer working at the Villa Medici surrounded by glitz and glam that is foreign coming from her modest background.

During this summer that shaped Rachel’s life twenty some years before Rachel met Diana. Diana came from a world where money was no object and Rachel became obsessed with their friendship. Rachel also began to like one of Diana’s rich crowd friends, Sebastian, and enlisted Diana’s help to get to know him but when the summer came to an end someone had died and Sebastian had goen to prison.

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber is a slow burn thriller which I’m not always the biggest fan of but I did find myself intrigued with the toxic friendship and interested in finding out what would happen. The characters in Out of Her Depth are not ones that are likable but one that make you pick up some popcorn and watch as one would a train wreck. It was easy to lose myself in Tuscany in the past but also follow along easily as the story switched to the current as I waited for the big finale where it all comes together.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Out of Her Depth was my introduction to Lizzy Barber's writing, and I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for whatever comes next. This book took me by surprise. After reading the blurb, I fully expected a have and have not, rich setting version of a domestic drama. The have and have not part is kind of true, but this is not a domestic drama. This is an edge-of-your-seat, atmospheric thriller that kept me turning the pages until well into the night. I will warn that if you need to like a character, have someone to root for, then this one may not be for you. For me, it really just depends on the story - fortunately, this wasn't one of those that left me looking for someone to root for. I didn't feel like I needed to like these people. To me, the story felt like we're not supposed to like the characters. It is full of twists, but rather than give any of those away, I'll just say that Out of Her Depth ended up being a pleasant surprise for this thriller reader, and I'll be on the lookout for more from this author.
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I’ve found I can read a novel where I do not like any of the characters, but really want to know what happened.  I was drawn in by Sebastian being let out of jail after 20 years, but not knowing why he was there.  I am not sure if it was meant to be fashioned after the Amanda Knox story, but that was the vibes I had when reading.  I also had a little mean girls vibes.

Told in the past and present via Rachel.  The past was a summer she spent in Tuscany with Rachel and Sebastian.  A little coming of age and a little toxic friendship.  While the present is now as Sebastian is getting out of jail and Rachel is trying to contact her friend Diana and seems concerned about what will happen with Sebastian.

The ending was definitely unique and a little odd.  I suspected we were heading there, but not quite in that way.  This is for you if you like a slow burn psychological thriller with a mean girls vibe.
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Ohhh, Fuddy Duddy! 😳😯

I have to say, I had higher hopes for this one. The concept and potential of the plot was there, but I feel there was a few things that made it fall short for me. One being the character Rachel. At times I wanted to shake the stuffing out of her she frustrated me so much with some of her behaviour. The ending also felt.. less than satisfying for me and off? And I only found the "suspense" to be mediocre at best here. 

Mყ 𝐒ყɴ𝐨ρѕιѕ: Rachel gets the opportunity of a life time, before heading off to college. She has a chance to work at a villa in Florence, Italy for the summer to help her learn Italian. Immediately being sucked into all the glamour and wealth, she befriends a co-worker, Diana, who not only helps her out but also to capture the heart of Sebastian. However, as the summer days wear on, between work, lavish parties & expensive outings, Rachel realizes this is a place full of back-stabbing, betrayal, and selfish desires at any cost. But one night, it all comes to a head that leaves someone dead, & another headed to jail. Death in paradise. 

Now that being said, it did have some good qualities. I enjoyed the scenery presented, the location for the plot of "then", the intricacies of the characters, some of the suspense aspects at a few points, & the plot potential. Barber did keep me guessing though along the way that kept me intrigued and curious because I needed to know "what happened"! Although not as tantalizing as I'd have liked & hoped, it was tasty. 

Thank you to NetGalley & Harlequin Trade Publishing for this ARC.
Release Date: Out Now!

𝐌𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭: 3 / 5 Beach Waves! 🌊
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Someone died the summer that Rachel worked at a grand hotel in Italy and now, years later, it's come back to haunt her.  Rachel is the one who was out of her depth that summer before she headed off to Cambridge- she wasn't wealthy, she wasn't sophisticated, and she's taken in by Diana, a mean girl,  She finds herself in a sort of love quadrangle with Diana, Sebastian, and Valentina.  What happened?  This moves back and forth in time to tell the story of that summer and the fallout.  It's a tad predictable until it isn't.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  A page turner perfect for summer.
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From my blog: Always With a Book

This is the second book I’ve read by Lizzy Barber and I am a fan! She has proven with this new book that she really is a master at creating clever psychological fiction and I will be reading whatever she writes!

A well-done psychological thriller about toxic friendships is one of my favorite tropes and this one was so cleverly written. Right from the start, I found myself hooked, unable to walk away. That’s the best kind of feeling, where you just become so consumed with a story that you don’t want to put it down and I ended up reading this one in just two sittings!

This story moves at just the right pace, starting off slowly to set everything up and then building to quite the conclusion. We move back and forth between “then” and “now” and I loved that little hints were dropped, almost like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We know something happened that summer all those years ago and we know that Sebastian has paid the price…but what happened and why?

This book is not only completely atmospheric – the sense of place is unlike anything I’ve read lately – but also it is dripping in dark undertones and bitter manipulations. It is such an addictive read and the twists that it took made the book. I highly recommend this one and have added Lizzy Barber to my list of must-read authors.
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There are summers that will change your life. There are summers that may end it. 

Out of Her Depth is a slow burn, but in the best kind of way, the kind that smolders along and then bursts into flames at that one perfect critical point. Lizzy Barber @bylizzybarber definitely had me frantically flipping pages and finding opportunities to put my earbuds in.

Thanks for the opportunity to review! Link to 7/14/2022 post:
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In this thrilling story delivered in rapid then and now dual timelines, one of our protagonists, Rachel Bailey, is in a toxic friendship with Diana. A summer full of opportunities is before Rachel as they both get jobs at a lovely Tuscan villa. Rachel’s growing friendship with Diana is further complicated by the fact that Rachel is rather drawn to Sebastian. Will Diana help her to win over Sebastian or will something more sinister eventually happen?

These are teenagers whose lives are just about to take off. However, a course of events starts to form, and one of the end results is that Sebastian has been given a 20-year prison sentence. For the course of the book, the question remains as to who the murder victim was and what really transpired. As the book alternated between the present and the past, readers are given privy to the byplay between Rachel, Diana and Sebastian. There is a fourth player, however, and her name is Valentina. Readers will start to see how she plays into everything that happened during that hot Tuscan summer.

One thing is abundantly clear in this book. Diana is not a nice person. What is more about the story is that Rachel becomes obsessed with Diana and that obsession carries its way through the entire book. This is most certainly a character driven story as readers can easily see the mean streak that Diana has flowing throughout her all while Rachel is striving to win Diana as well as Sebastian over at any cost.

In the present day, Sebastian‘s murder conviction has been overturned and this is something that really concerns Rachel because there are events from that time decades previously that is really eating away at Rachel. Whether this is a domestic thriller, psychological thriller or mystery is something that the reader will discover as they just might be sucked into this captivating read, especially considering the fact that no one in this book is a genuine person that you would likely friend in real life. Despite the strong unlikeable nature of each and every character, this book was impossible to put down. 

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy my YouTube video review -
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What's it about (in a nutshell):
Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber is a psychological thriller and, more importantly, a character study on how the allure of the entitled can take you on an unexpected journey into moral darkness. Whether or not you can return from this journey is one of the many poignant details the story explores.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The cover doesn't give away anything. It's a home with one upstairs window lighted, and I can't tell if anyone is in that window. The blurb talked about a summer when a lot happened. The setting is a Villa in Florence, Italy – I love the sound of that. I also am intrigued by the mention of a deadly web of manipulation and desire. Overall, I expect an atmospheric thriller about wealthy people doing bad things.

Actual Reading Experience:
My actual reading experience was not what I imagined, yet it was.  

I loved the atmosphere. If you are going to read an atmospheric thriller, what better atmosphere than Florence, Italy. I felt like I was there – staying in the villa, sunning by the pool, enjoying the sites and the parties. But the beauty did have a dark tinge to it – a tinge of entitlement, soullessness, and lies.

I also loved the ending. Until I reached about the 80% point, I thought my reading enjoyment was only around 3 stars, but then I read the conclusion. The last 20% reframed everything that came before it and made me want to reread the story, knowing what I now know. Because I realized that Out of Her Depth is a classic man's inhumanity to man story and reflects Rachel's potential descent into the moral darkness of the entitled young adults she spent her summer around. She is, as the title tells us, out of her depth. And I love this!

The first-person narration allows the reader to experience this world just as Rachel experiences it, with its allure and fantasy-like quality. This is her story, and it's one fraught with warnings and a poignancy that I could never have expected going into it - aspects that provide suspense that keeps the pages turning. I didn't find it as fast-paced as I hoped it would be, but that is one of the things I wonder about. If my focus had been on the right thing, I think the pace would have been much faster.

The story is told in dual timelines. One timeline tells of the events of that fateful summer, and the other is in the present (21 years later). The changes in time are handled smoothly and naturally without confusion about which timeline the reader is reading about.

The cast of characters are all incredibly unlikable – one more unlikable than the next - but then I believe that is an essential point of the story. The narrator and main character, Rachel, comes from a solidly middle-class family with a total lack of pretenses or airs. She finds herself thrown into a whole different world for the summer when a teacher recommends her for a job at an Italian Villa. She enters a world of entitlement and deception that could change her forever.

To Read or Not to Read:
If you love atmospheric psychological thrillers involving toxic friendships, Out of Her Depth is one you won't be able to put down.
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Lizzy Barber's suspense novel Out of Her Depth opens with a sentence that will entice you to keep reading- 
"Before you judge me, remember this: a girl died, and it wasn't my fault."
Rachel is teaching French and Italian at a private girls' school when a BBC News alert flashes across her phone that a man's criminal appeal is proceeding that evening. What does this have to do with the first sentence of the story? 

The story moves back in time to when Rachel was an ambitious high school student. Her Italian teacher reaches out to an old friend, a countessa who has a villa in Tuscany that she has turned into a pensione. Although she would be working as a maid, Rachel would be escaping to beautiful Florence for the summer.

The work was not easy, but when Rachel meets another maid named Diana, Rachel becomes "intoxicated with her, almost from the very moment, an intensity of feeling that perhaps blinded me to her other faults." Unlike Rachel, Diana comes from the same wealthy class as most of the villa's guests.

Rachel also falls for Sebastian, a neighbor of the Contessa's. Sebastian is charming and handsome and he seems to like Rachel as well. Diana encourages Rachel, telling Rachel that she would help her win Sebastian's affections.

But Diana is not the friend that Rachel believes her to be. As the summer moves along, Rachel finds herself doing Diana's work as well as her own, and being seduced by the lifestyle of her new friends, a  lifetyle she cannot afford.

The story moves back and forth in time, and we read on waiting to discover who was the girl who died and if it wasn't Rachel's fault, whose fault was it? Rachel seems to be unraveling in the present time, looking for answers, and perhaps absolution, for what happened in Tuscany.

I enjoyed being immersed in Florence and Tuscan countryside. You could feel the sunshine on your face, and taste the cool gelato on your tongue. The story had a Gatsby-esque touch, with our narrator trying to explain the actions of these rich people. Lizzy Barber has the reader in the palm of her hand, right up to the shocking ending. If you are a fan of thrillers like The Girl on the Train, Out of Her Depth is one for you.

Thanks to Harlequin Books for putting me on their Summer 2022 Mystery & Thriller Blog Tour.
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***I received an ebook copy from the publisher at no cost***

Out of her Depth is an enjoyable read overall. It has some of my favorite elements in a story—suspense, psychological thrills, the group of rich kids who think they walk on water and their crap doesn't stink. There's all kinds of drama. It was easy to get wrapped up in it, especially since the story is told between alternating present and past day. 

Rachel gets an offer to work at a prestigious hotel in Italy for the summer. After a few go arounds with her parents she accepts, and finds herself thrust into a world that she's not used to. Her reason for taking the job is to learn Italian, as this will be her college major come fall. Rachel befriends her co-worker, Diana, who happens to be Rachel's polar opposite. Diana is feisty, wild, and loves to have fun ... even if it comes at the expense of others. There's also Sebastian, Rachel's love interest. He's older, wealthy, and indifferent toward Rachel. Yet she falls hard and fast for him. And that's when something terrible happens.

I did not like the characters in this book. They're pretty awful. And unfortunately this carries on throughout the whole novel. There's progression, they have depth, and at times I did have a tiny bit of empathy for Sebastian. But... yeah. They're yucky. However, this didn't ruin the book for me or anything. I believe the author's intent was to craft unlikeable characters, because it essentially made the story. And it added to the suspense I felt as a reader. I never knew what was coming next, if there was going to be some shady betrayal or dishonest behavior. That kept me engaged in the book. 

The ending of this one shook me because I was not at all expecting what happened. It was a pretty freaking crazy twist. The book started off a little slow but it did pick up about halfway through. 

If you like psychological thrillers, you'll enjoy this book.

Four stars to this novel!
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Thank you to the publisher, MIRA, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Out of Her Depth in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Gist
Alright, my allergy pill is about to kick in, so I’m going to feel a whole lot better in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean this review will magically get any more positive.

At first, this story and the mood reminded me a little of Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos. But the more I read, the more annoyed I got with Out of Her Depth.

What is it supposed to be? A Murder mystery? A thriller? A coming-of-age story? Who knows!

The Details
I couldn’t stand the protagonist and not for lack of trying, I can tell you that!

She is such a contradiction and not an interesting one. On the one hand, she wants to be part of the upper class; of the elite. She is self-conscious and insecure to always make a good impression. Yet, her comments on the elite/upper class are stand-offish, snide and even vindictive.

So, I’m sitting here, asking myself “What does she actually want?”.

The rest of the characters aren’t any better and my attention soon dwindled. I lost all interest in any of them.

The narration is equally questionable. It’s the typical now-then format that is supposed to slowly and interestingly unfold the story from two angles. It is told in the first-person, so our protagonist is also our narrator, which makes things less interesting.

The format itself doesn’t work that well, because during each jump nothing is revealed. It nothing more that a chronological telling of the protagonist’s summer spent in Italy.
26% into the story and I totally that this is supposed to be a mystery/thriller.

The writing is good, though. It’s descriptive and catching, which makes this even the more frustrating. It could have an incredibly captivating and satisfying read.

The Verdict
Overall, I didn’t like any of it past the 10% point. I thought it lost its direction. It became a boring and tedious read.
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This is a psychological thriller steeped in toxicity and toxic friendship. Rachel takes a summer job at a hotel in Florence and becomes friends with a fun-loving coworker, Diana. At a party, she meets Sebastian and falls for him and tries, desperately to get him to like her back. 

Over the summer, Diana leads Rachel along to do her bidding and tries to help Rachel get the guy. Or does she? 

The book is told in present day and flashbacks. We see that Sebastian is about to be released from prison for a murder and trying to contact Rachel. 

While the scenes unfolded throughout the book to see exactly what happened and why Sebastian was in prison, the story made the characters extremely unlikable. I don’t think there’s one character I liked except the very minor character of Phoebe, a child. The ending was fine but the entire book just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for this eARC.
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Decent suspense novel, odd ending. Unlikable characters. Worth reading.

The main premise is that Rachel, who is about to start University at Cambridge in the fall, takes a summer job in Tuscany working at a hotel, hopefully to work on her Italian skills. She meets fellow co-worker Diana, who is fun-loving but has a mean streak and is brazen where Rachel is timid. She draws Rachel out of her shell, but there's a dark undercurrent to everything she does. Rachel falls hard for Sebastian, a rich guy out of her league, but he doesn't really seem interested. At the beginning of the book, we are twenty years later and find out that Sebastian has been in prison for murder, but his sentence has been overturned and he is trying to get in touch with Rachel. Who was murdered and what really happened?

I did like the way this book unfolded, alternating between the present and the past, deliberately laying things out so that the reader can feel the anticipation of the events. Themes of obsession and toxic relationships abound. The ending had some great surprises, yet I thought it went a step too far, one of those "one twist too many" traps that writers sometimes fall into unfortunately. The characters are quite unlikable, even those I liked at first I eventually grew to despise. I want to have someone to root for, so this was a bit disappointing.

I thought this book was worth reading because the twists were good, but just go in knowing you probably won't like any of the characters.
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I enjoyed this book even though I really did not like any of the characters.  Rachel was the only character that seemed to have some redeeming qualities but as I got to know her I liked her less.  This seems to be a summer of tragedy.  I also felt a little sorry for Sebastian.  I felt that this story was definitely teaching a lesson by the end of the book.  I received a copy of this book from harlequin for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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