Going in Deep - Carly Phillips
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Rating (out of 5):
Warning: Potential Spoilers!
Synopsis: Julian Dane thought he'd hit rock bottom — until he met a woman (isn't that what they all say?). He used her and broke her heart. Now he wants to turn things around but the damage he dealt stands in his way.
Kendall Parker's unique issues have made it hard to live a normal life. Very few people understand her and she trusts even less … but she believed in Julian once, and he only betrayed her.
Now Julian is back — a new man — and determined to win Kendall's heart. But this reformed bad boy just might find that Going in Deep is harder than it looks.
In college Julian, Kade, Derek, and Lucas were close friends designing a social media app. Then Julian dropped into alcohol and drugs, abandoned his friends, and they went on to create a multi-million dollar company without him. He came back, raked up things his friends didn't want to remember, sued them to get some of the company's money, and used Kade's girlfriend's twin sister to hurt them even more. He used Kendall, then broke her heart, then walked away. To say that he has a rocky road to redemption would be an understatement. Kendall is finally on track with her life: she has a job, an apartment, and working with a therapist and medication to keep her bipolar disorder under control. She's not interested in ever seeing Julian Dane again. But persistence pays off and these two people who were once so wrong for each other may prove to be a perfect match- if they can convince Kendall's family to give him another chance!
I was skeptical when I first read the blurb for this book. How in the world could Julian Dane be redeemed into hero material? Or at least a likable, sympathetic main character. We met him in Going Down Easy as someone who did what he wanted, used who he could, and had no feelings for anyone else. In Going in Deep we see things through Julian's eyes. I was encouraged to give him a chance with the opening lines of the book, which became something of Julian's motto: "A man didn't make mistakes. He made choices. Bad ones stayed with him for a long time but, with a little luck and a lot of hard work, hopefully not forever." Julian never makes excuses for his past actions. He owns them as bad choices. But we also see why he made the choices he did. And while you certainly don't agree with those choices, you have to be encouraged by the fact that the new Julian doesn't agree with them either. He's working hard to make amends, make changes, and make things better where he can. I liked how Kendall eventually sees that in him and gives him the chance.
Both Kendal and Julian come into their own here, becoming strong characters who learn to deal with their problems. But while they may be impacted by their pasts, they don't spend the entire book going over old ground. While it might help readers to read the earlier books in the series (or at least Going Down Easy) first to get the background, I think it would also be possible for new readers to read Going in Deep as a standalone without too much confusion.
This is a book about second chances: the people who take them and the ones who don't. Julian is getting a second chance at a life free of alcohol and drugs, getting a second chance with Kendall, and even a second chance with the men who used to be his best friends. Kendall is getting a second chance as a responsible and independent adult, not one who relies on her twin to take care of her. She's not only giving Julian a second chance, she's giving herself a second chance- learning to trust her judgment in herself and in others to be happy. Dogs also play a big role in this book and second chances. Kendall works at an animal shelter, helping people adopt pets that need a second chance at life. She bonds with Julian over the dog he adopts- you can tell a lot about a person by how he treats his pet after all. But Kendall is also good at seeing people and dogs who could work together, like as emotional therapy dogs. Without being preachy Going in Deep goes into some deep issues of addiction and mental health, and how individuals choose to deal with them (or not). I thought that Phillips handled these sensitive issues with not only gentle understanding but also a desire to bring awareness to the topics and help erase the social stigma still prevalent in society today. If you read Going in Deep and find yourself thinking there's an abnormally high number of people in it with some kind of 'mental health' issue, you'd be wrong- these characters are just more willing to talk about it. Hopefully someday that will mirror our society's willingness to talk about things.
A fun book with characters who feel real and three dimensional, dealing with real life issues with a perfect blend of seriousness and humor. A must read for Carly Phillips fans and a great introduction for new Carly Phillips readers and fans of contemporary romance.
I received a free copy of this book on Instafreebie in exchange for an honest review.