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Feature book: Melt

24 April 2019

Melt by Lisa Walker

Subgenre: romantic comedy
Release date: 2 May 2018
Publisher: Lacuna Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 278 pages
RRP: $10.95 (ebook); $28.99 (print)

You know from the very beginning that Nimbin-born Summer Wright, TV production assistant, is still searching for herself. She thinks she’s found her dream boyfriend in Adrian, a project-management-guru who totally micromanages everything—and I mean everything. She also has her dream job … nearly! What she seriously wants to do is write soap operas, but at least she’s got one foot in the door of a hot shot television studio, courtesy of a contact of uptight Adrian’s. That might lead somewhere, mightn’t it?

Gosh, it’s funny to watch Summer secretly watching her beloved soaps, guessing which crazy scenario is going to happen next. Invariably—brought up on Dynasty as she was—she’s right, but she also considers she could lift every script to the next level. And there are certain amusing conversations through the book that prove that yes, she certainly could.

A series of mishaps occur with Cougar Gale, reality star of the TV show where Summer is production assistant. Suddenly Summer is sent to Antarctica to pose and film as Cougar. It helps that she looks a little bit like Cougar. In Antarctica, Summer can rug up in snow suits and balaclavas and such and carry on for the cameras as though she is Cougar. A bit of a stretch, particularly regarding the travelling-on-someone-else’s-passport, which I suspect is highly illegal, but hey, this is fiction. Also, the implicit threat is that if Summer doesn’t do what she’s told To Save The Show, she will be fired. Her boss is really not very nice.

The hilarious and frantic googling of glaciology and other such matters—in which Summer’s supposed to have a PhD—is very funny, an ongoing gag highlight of the book as she scrambles to cover her cluelessness. Thank goodness for excellent internet in Antarctica, and the children’s website Polar Fun For Kids. All manner of chats and film segments are fudged by Summer with her hastily acquired knowledge, and she mostly pulls it off.

The conversations about krill and the Inuits (yes, from the other Pole) are wonderfully ridiculous. You can’t help chuckling along even as the embarrassment factor climbs. Summer’s frantic igloo building is also fun but slightly, frenetically, poignant.

Her ineptitude is particularly noticed by tall, rugged climate scientist Lucas Nilsson but he simply doesn’t say anything. To everyone’s astonishment the filming rolls on to wonderful acclaim back in Sydney, especially when Summer lets loose with some glorious soap opera improvisations. The public lap them up and ask for more. Suddenly, the humble, usually boring krill have an astonishing moment of fame!

And Summer and Lucas—well, a bit of melting begins to happen between them. Lucas is gorgeous, laconic, intelligent, strong and fairly silent. And very, very attractive. A good man to have on your side. And a very good kisser!

Slowly Summer begins to realise what she truly needs, and it isn’t The (ridiculous) Cone Of Certainty her project-management boyfriend previously told her to strive for. She knows, deep down, what she needs, and somehow, she has to set her own life straight and listen to her heart. And what’s going to happen about Lucas?

This book seems deceptively light and fluffy at first, with over-the-top scenarios all loved up with sparkling dialogue. Then suddenly you realise that under the fluff the story has taken you deeper, to touch on difficult, sensitive issues of identity, family, grief, climate change, being true to oneself, and above all, letting yourself love and be loved by the right person.

All dealt with by Lisa Walker’s adept hand, without wallowing. Well done. And with the cutest cover ever!

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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