Cover Image: Out of Her Depth

Out of Her Depth

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Member Reviews

***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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I loved the unlikable characters in such a beautiful and luxe setting. It's the perfect unsuspecting combination that hooks me from the start. And the toxic and unreliable web of friendship, lies, deceit, and trust was perfect for a summer psychological thriller.
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Even if it's well written I didn't care for the characters and the story fell flat.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Told from now and 21 years prior, which you learn someone has died early on.  Rachel obsessed over Diana and thought their friendship was real and pure. This friendship is quite toxic and has left Rachel for 21 years a bit off her rocker, while Diana celebrates life as there is no tomorrow. 

I found this suspenseful, however, it was a slow burn and there weren’t enough twists that kept me interested tbh. The end was a little odd and it was definitely a twist, but I have no idea what to believe. 

Thanks to htpbooks and Hachetteaudio for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Imagine spending the summer working at a villa in Italy. Sounds like a dream come true but something happens that summer that changes lives for everyone.

Rachel is the main story teller and the timeline goes from present day back to the summer in Italy. You know something is wrong as the book opens with a man being released from prison after his guilty verdict is overturned. You have to keep reading to get the full picture. I enjoy this about books because I was trying to figure out what happened before the story told me. Highly enjoyable book!
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I originally thought Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber would be a mystery novel, but it was more than that. This book was a slow build filled with suspense because you knew something happened, but you had no idea how or why.

Lizzy Barber’s writing style was one I quite enjoyed. The story flowed and created a picture I could see in my head while I read, but in a way that let my mind develop the imagine and filled in the blanks. Even though the storyline was jumping from 20 years prior to now, I feel like it was done in a way that made the puzzle pieces slowly slide into place and not feel disorganized or jumpy. Barber evoked strong emotional bonds or dislike for some of the characters. I really did not like Diana or Rachel even though they were main characters. I really didn’t like Sebastian either. I don’t say this against the writing, but more so because she wrote characters that made me feel strongly about their personalities.

With all that said, as much as I liked the story, it was just okay. The suspense build wasn’t as exciting as I would normally like and the reveal wasn’t actually that big of a reveal. I had figured out what had happened and it felt anticlimactic. There was nothing wrong with the story, I just didn’t love it. It was good, a little predictable and slightly slow.

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber was a good read for a hot summer day imagining working at a high end Inn in Italy and enjoying life. The characters were interesting and the general story was good. If you like domestic style thrillers, check it out.
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We’ve all been there at one time or another…in an awkward situation, desperately wishing we fit in better. 

Barber explores what happens when the desire to ‘fit in’ becomes deadly.

Her protagonist, Rachel Bailey, is a fish-out-of-water from an ordinary family who is dropped into a high-society pond in Florence, Italy. Her desperation to fit in causes her to flail and a deadly, turbulent wave of deceit, desire and manipulation sets in. 

The author’s premise of taking a potentially perfect experience and twisting it to produce a horribly wrong outcome, works in this case because she brings a sense of authenticity and sense of place to the narrative. Like Rachel, Barber also spent a summer in Florence and went to Cambridge University. 

Readers will be constantly aware of the duality in this novel; light/darkness, evil/goodness, have/have nots and educated/uneducated, to name a few. This duality is exposed through a female viewpoint in both past and present, and also highlights the toxicity of female friendships. 

While I loved the foody references, the vivid descriptions, the fantastic character development, the fact that the protagonist is also a teacher, and the compelling plot, I was turned off with the unnecessary vulgar language. The result is that I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it to all my readers. 

Lizzy Barber’s next novel, A Girl Like That to be released in 2023, is inspired by Daphne du Maurier and infused with vibes of A Turn of The Screw and set on Cornish Coast. The main character, Lily, is a nanny for a wealthy couple. 

I was gifted this advance copy by Lizzy Barber, Harlequin Trade Publishing, MIRA, and NetGalley, and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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Summer vacation gone wrong? I'm pretty sure you could call it something like that, except it's not exactly a summer vacation when you have to work, is it? Either way, Rachel lands a fabulous job and finds herself entrenched in another world. The problem with trying to be someone you aren't is that it usually doesn't end the best.

And it doesn't.

That was exactly what drew me in. Fantasy life meets murder. I'm a sucker for this troupe, if that actually is an official troupe... I hated Diana from the beginning. I hated her friends. Everything about her feels fake. At the same time, I wasn't exactly a fan of Rachel either as she seems to be impressionable and maybe even gullible. Alas, a strong character might not have found herself in the trouble Rachel does, right?

Add in Sebastian and it felt like a summer movie playing out in my mind. One we've seen before yet different. I loved the scene and the twists. Anyone loving thrillers will enjoy this quick read!
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Rachel is a young woman headed to college, but before she goes to Cambridge, she lands a good job in a fun location - a mansion/hotel in Florence, Italy.  She is out of her league when another young woman arrives - Diana who is sophisticated and has access to her parents wallets which helps when their paycheck is limited.  And of course, an Italian summer isn't complete without a dreamy Italian guy and Sebastian fits the bill.  

The book is told in two different timelines - one in the present as Sebastian is released from prison and Rachel is trying to handle it all.  And the other storyline is 20 years ago as Rachel and Diana meet and work and the summer that really changed their lives forever.  I for sure loved the one from the past more than the present, but I am glad the author included the present to see where these characters were and are.    

While I have become quite the reader of the mystery/thriller genre, I have learned a few tricks of the trade and predicted the ending very early on, so this book for me was more for the journey to confirm if I was correct in my guessing - and I was!  

There is one book in Lizzy Barber's backlist that looks like this one and I hope to read it very soon.
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Good physiological thriller about three people you'd love to hate but never be friends with!  Very well developed characters - perfectly awful people.  You root for no one and the ending - well it could have been written three ways and it would have felt the same.

Very enjoyable read.
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You know those books where you hate every single character because they are so unredeemable and genuinely bad people? It either makes you hate or love a book. For me it’s the latter. I love nothing more than vapid, manipulative characters. Especially when they are all working against each other and you have no idea how it’ll turn out. This one was a slow build, but it kept my attention. It got very exciting towards the end and I stayed up way too late. A few unexpected twists that left me reeling too.

“The longer I spent in Italy, the more I saw that bad things happened to good people, and good to bad. So, really, did it matter which any of us were?”

Out of Her Depth comes out 7/12.
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One doesn’t need enemies when they have a “friend” like Diana. Out of Her Depth is a diabolical book, based on manipulation, lies, lust, and, betrayal. Rachel spends a summer in Italy and tries to fit in behind her league. She becomes Diana’s lapdog and part of a love quadrangle with Sebastian and Valentina. One guy and three girls who want him. This will end well.
I was appalled at Diana, thought Rachel was completely pathetic, and Sebastian was a jerk. Valentina, well, you need to read the book to form your own opinion.
I couldn’t read this book fast enough, all the while shaking my head, timeless themes abound.
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I was sucked into this book from the very beginning (I mean check out the excerpt below, it will show you what I'm talking about!) and I was just more enchanted the further I got into the book. The timeline follows the past-and-present formula, with u witnessing events from the present, when Rachel learns that something from her past may be catching up with her - and in the past when she relives the events of that golden summer in Florence, Italy, when things ended up going horribly, horribly wrong

There's so much suspense in each timeline, I was excited for both storylines to see where they were going to go, with a major sense of foreboding hanging over each. I was really turning pages to see where each was going. 

And that ending! I'm still deciding how I feel about it. But I think that's really fitting for this book, which brings up so many emotions and where what and who are right and  wrong are so blurred that things could go either way. 

This was one of the best mystery/thrillers I've read recently - definitely pick it up if you're looking for a good, suspenseful read!
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Thank you NetGalley, MIRA, and Lizzy Barber for the advanced copy of Out of Her Depth in exchange for my honest review.

This one unfortunately just never really hooked me. I ended up skimming through most of it just to see how it ended and I wasn't super satisfied with the conclusion. 

Regardless, I won't hesitate to pick up another book by this author in the future. This one just ultimately wasn't for me.
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This book was a decent psychological thriller. It was well-written and the plot was well thought out. The issue here, I believe, is another case of it’s-not-you-it’s-me unfortunately.

As someone who identifies as empathic, this book really took me to some dark places mentally. I didn’t even realize how much it was affecting me until I finished it.

The main character obviously struggles with a lot of issues - obsessive and stalking behavior, always trying to be someone she’s not just to please other people. She is our narrator, so for awhile her thoughts and behaviors seem somewhat justifiable. Then at some point you start to realize that she’s not all there.

And the other characters were no better. All rich, entitled, spoiled brats. The main character’s best friend in the book is the definition of a toxic, manipulative person. Truly awful. And the boy they’re all obsessing over is vapid, shallow, and just genuinely callous and awful, too.

The events play out exactly as you expect them to, with no real twist or surprise. It’s just this sort of dark, relentless decent into the abyss you saw coming and could do nothing to avoid.

Then, worst of all for me, there was no good resolution. No one “got what they deserved” or “learned their lesson.” Things just got worse (to put it mildly) for the main character, and the toxic friend and callous boy were free to continue on as they pleased.

Overall, while this was a good book and I know it will definitely find its audience, it just left me feeling emotionally wrung out/anxious and ultimately unsatisfied.
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A delightful read! I felt a lot of sympathy for Rachel and could identify with her. Barber's vivid descriptions of Florence made it come alive. There were many exciting twists which I didn't see coming. This is one book you won't be able to put down!
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