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In at the Deep End by Penelope Janu

Reviewed by Sarah Todman

 

Fresh and witty rom-com: an exciting debut!

When her ship sinks in the middle of the Antarctic, environmentalist Harriet Scott finds herself being rescued by a real life action hero. He’s tall, lean and…totally pissed off. Yes, Harriet’s mayday call may have saved her life but it has also derailed this brooding Norwegian naval commander’s fledgling ice core research project.

Three months on Commander Per Amundsen wants recompense — a ship that will get him back to Antarctica and allow him to reignite his scientific study — and he expects Harriet to deliver it. Of course, Harriet no longer has a ship; hers is at the bottom of the ocean and the legacy of her famous adventurer parents may have gone down with it.

Per wants a ship, Harriet needs one (how else is she going to get the irate action man off her back and rescue her family’s reputation?); what’s missing from the equation is funding. When a plan presents itself to secure the money needed the two realise they are going to have to work together, like it or not.

In At The Deep End is a delightfully fresh rom-com from debut author Penelope Janu.

Janu, a Sydney lawyer and legal academic, injects the age-old boy-meets-girl then-stumbling blocks-ensue formula with fresh wit, well-drawn characters and settings that sink into your senses.

The sexual tension between Harriet (kind of a grown-up Bindi Irwin sans the celebrity-fied Dancing With The Stars turn and movie career) and Per (a delicious combination of gruff and gorgeous) is perfectly executed.

These two spark and flare their way to the eventual happy-ever-after by navigating a set of challenges the author has been careful to make sure are both authentic and fully realised.

The cosy cast of supporting characters adds satisfying touches of light and shade and the zingy pace of the story keeps the pages turning. I read this over a weekend, finding plenty of excuses to escape to my room and dive back in.

A very small trifle — the only one I could find — was a desire for the tone of the blog posts from Harriet, which appear intermittently throughout the book, to have just a little more of the quirkiness that makes her character so likeable.

Long story short, I really enjoyed this book. With In At The Deep End Janu stamps herself as an exciting new entry to the rom-com market.

Pick this one up and you won’t be dipping your toes in, you’ll be diving straight for the deep end.