Oct 08

Down Too Deep by J. Daniels Review


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Fans of Christina Lauren and Colleen Hoover will love this sexy and emotional fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Dirty Deeds series.

Following the sudden death of his wife, Nathan Bell has spent nearly two years burying himself in work and neglecting his biggest responsibility: his daughter. Overcome with guilt, he wants to connect with little Marley, but he doesn’t know how to do it alone. And then Jenna Savage throws him a lifeline.

A single mom of twins, Jenna is more than capable of taking care of Nate’s adorable two-year-old, and wants to help Nathan however she can. Soon, attachments are made, forcing Jenna and her kids into new territory. And the closer everyone becomes, the more right it feels.

Falling in love forces Nathan to face his biggest fear, and when hearts, both big and little, are on the line, the only thing scarier than needing someone is losing them all.

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I’ve been a fan of J. Daniels since the beginning. I have read every single word she’s written, and I’ve loved them all. Daniels is a natural storyteller, and she has her own, unique and addictive voice. She writes these all-consuming, grand romances that are unputdownable stories for her readers. For this romance reader, a new release from J. Daniels is a much-anticipated, planned-around experience.

I love the Dirty Deeds series, and I’ve been looking forward to Nate’s story since we met him in Four Letter Word, the first book in the series. Daniels hoarded precious details about Nate throughout this series, doling them out sparingly to readers over the course of the previous three books. As much as I was focused on the previous stories as I was reading them, stumbling upon a detail about Nate was a treat and definitely amped up my anticipation for his story.

A widower, deeply lost in his grief, Nate is not managing his role as a father very well. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be the father that his precious, two-year-old daughter, Marley, needs, he just isn’t sure how to go about doing it. After a much-needed, albeit brutal, wake-up call, in steps an angel in the form of Jenna, a single mom of twins, Oliver and Olivia. She reaches out a hand to help Nate, and he latches on gratefully to that lifeline. Instead of condemnation or judgment, Jenna offers him kindness, patience, grace. His relief is palpable, and he doesn’t squander this opportunity. He pays attention to Jenna, and Marley responds to his attention. My heart was full watching Nate come into his own as a father.

There’s just something about a damaged hero that really does it for me, and oh boy, did my heart ache for Nate. He was haunted by his wife’s death, his was ashamed about his lack of involvement in his young daughter’s life and the fact that he had no clue how to care for her. As the owner of a busy restaurant, it was easy for him to get lost in the day-to-day running of it, but even that was taking a toll on him, and he was just overwhelmed with the constant juggling of all of it. But when Jenna offered to help him, he had no idea that he would be getting so much more than a sitter, a helper—a friend—in the process. Jenna and her kids breathed life back into Nate, and he begins to shed the grief and the guilt, and for the first time in far too long, he feels hopeful—and happiness. He struggles with even that, though, and I was on the edge of my seat as he sifted through those emotions, trying to make sense of what he was thinking, what he was feeling, and what he wanted. The problem is that more than just Nate and Jenna’s hearts are at stake here, slowly but surely everyone was becoming very invested in what was starting to look a whole lot like a family every passing day.

At its core, Down Too Deep was a story about loss, forgiveness, moving forward and starting over. Daniels never shies away from difficult topics or emotions in her stories. She doesn’t hesitate to run her readers through the wringer right along with her characters. The emotion in this book, though, positively wrecked me. WRECKED ME. I wept—crying big, loud, hiccupping sobs—while reading this book. I felt Nate’s guilt like a second skin, I felt his desperation to know even the simplest, smallest, most basic things about his daughter. But I also felt love, my goodness, so much of it, so huge, and coming from all five of them. I felt Nate’s hope bloom, his optimism surge and his heart open to possibility. I felt Jenna and her kids love for this man and his little girl. Oh yes, I felt every single heart-wrenching, tugging and mending feel that Daniels wanted me to feel here.

Not exactly a light and breezy, easy-to-read romcom, Down Too Deep was a moving, heart-breaking story richly told with depth, genuine emotion and passion. There were highs and there were lows, and as difficult as that was at times, it was worth every single step of the journey these characters had to take to find this kind of love. My own emotions were all over the place while reading this book, a true testament to the power of Daniels’ amazing writing here. A truly memorable reading experience and one that will stay with me for a long time to come, Down Too Deep by J. Daniels is a top favorite for the year, and it gets five smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo



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