J E S S I C A H A N S E N
T H E M E L T I N G P O I N T O F W A X
MURDER. SECRETS. FORBIDDEN ROMANCE. IN THE SHADOW OF VESUVIUS, FIRST LOVE CAN BE AN EPIC DISASTER.
H E L P C H O O S E T H E C O V E R
A B O U T T M P O W
The nearer he is, the brighter Heli shines—and the closer Calaes comes to falling.
He's a farm worker turned chariot-driving gladiator. She's the daughter of an illustrious politician in the business of bloodlust.
A keeper of secrets and alleged killer, Heli was never supposed to set foot back in Pompeii. When her family's debts come to light, Calaes is jilted at her wedding. He finds himself on a ship home. She finds herself without a dowry, without suitors, and without a sure, secure future.
A shared connection offers him fame and her family redemption. A twist of fate brings them together—secret friends turned forbidden lovers. Sparks fly, reigniting not only her passion for painting, but also old secrets, unsolved murder, and unfinished business.
Will Calaes fight to save her family's legacy—or take flight for love? Will Heli let go?
A B O U T T H E N O V E L
The Melting Point of Wax is a story 13 years in the making. It began in ninth grade history class, when our teacher assigned us to choose a historical event and write a short first-person account of it. We'd recently studied volcanoes in science class. Mount Vesuvius came to mind. I'd always entertained a deep fascination with ancient civilization—Egypt, Greece, and especially Rome. Pompeii captivated me. The more I researched, the more I wrote. The more I write, the more I wrote, the more I wrote. A story was born. A tale of a young woman from a wealthy family, her good looking and well-heeled fiance, and a plebe boy who started as a friend and grew to become something more. I turned in a 79-page story for that assignment. (And quietly relished the fact that the page numbers matched the year of the catastrophic eruption.) "Someday, you ought to publish this," my history teacher said, after also saying he'd had his wife read it. Maybe it wasn't those exact words. But that's what I heard. And that's what I clung to for years.
The characters that inhabit this story have lived and breathed in my mind ever since. Through high school and college, first loves and heartbreaks, retail gigs and big girl jobs. Calaes, Heli, and Xanthus—sometimes by other names—have almost always been the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I pondered at night. They've grown up and changed with me. I know their voices as well as the voice in my own head. I've researched their society, their homes, chariots and horses, and clothing. What they ate and drank. What they might have smelled like. And what the weather was like month to month in their part of the ancient world.
Every once in a while, I come across something in my research that made me fall in love with their messy, sun-soaked, wine-drenched story all over again. One of those things was the archaeological discovery in the gladiatorial barracks. There, the body of a gladiator was found next to the body of a wealthy woman wearing a necklace of thirteen emeralds. That unearthed tragedy breathed possibility, romance, and sadness into the story. That could have been them. But was it?
A B O U T T H E A U T H O R
Jessica Hansen is a copywriter by day and a novel writer, lifestyle blogger, and DIY-decorator by night. She lives in a teeny, tiny town in rural southeastern Iowa with her boyfriend and two darling cats. When not reading or writing stories, she's likely browsing antique stores, sampling the goods at a local winery or brewery, binge watching period dramas and crime shows on Netflix, or rearranging the furniture.