Summer Stalker (North Star Book 1)
Shot Through The Heart (North Star Book 2)
Two books soon to be out, Summer Stalker and Shot Through The Heart by Nicole Helm, are the first in the “North Star Series.” Summer Stalker comes out in May and Shot Through The Heart comes out in June. This series is a spin-off from her last series of books, “Sons of Badlands,” where the North Star group was prevalent.
Summer Stalker opens with Shay now in charge of the group and allocating assignments. Reece Montgomery has been with North Star for six years after he retired from the military. He is now tasked with finding out who is after a bed and breakfast owner, Lianna Kade, and her seven-year-old son, Henry. Her husband was murdered and had a hidden past. Now that past has come to haunt his wife and child.
Lianna is a strong woman who decides she must be the bait to draw the bad guys out. She and Reece pretend to be a couple. But they seem to be drawn to each other. What they must overcome is the trauma of their past. She having to deal with her husband’s adversaries, and he the pain of parental abandonment. They both want the feeling of home. Reece also has never been in love, and he struggles to identify those feelings. Now they put these feelings aside and work together to find out who is after Lianna and Henry.
Shot Through The Heart is more of a spy novel. The female heroine, Willa Zimmerman, is a lot like Lianna in that she is a strong woman but pretends to be easily manipulated and acts dumb. The hero, Holden Parker, another North Star operative, is like Reece in that he is a loner and former military. He also struggles with his feelings for Willa. Now they must work together to find her parents, former CIA operatives, and to eliminate the threat to Willa and her parents by finding the hit men.
What makes this story interesting is the farm setting with all the different animals. The author also turned the tables on her hero by having him chained up and captured by the heroine. He must convince her he is not one of the bad guys and she must convince him she is not a dipsy woman.
Both books have likeable and realistic characters. The story is fast-paced and suspenseful with the relationship between the hero and heroine having great banter. Anyone who enjoyed the last series will want to read these two books.
Elise Cooper: Shay is now the leader?
Nicole Helm: She is a secondary character in all the books of this series and plays a large role. Shay as a leader is smart and as a former operative knows what is needed. But she is uncomfortable dealing with the emotional aspect of having to lead her co-workers. She sometimes had to be firm and authoritarian with those she worked side by side.
EC: What is the goal of the North Star Group?
NH: They want to protect the innocent. They have been described as a vigilante group because there are some things that must be done outside the law.
EC: Describe the hero, Reece in Summer Stalker?
NH: Guarded, noble, lonely, independent, protective, and serious. I had him as former military to make the operative well versed on how to handle certain aspects of the mission
EC: Describe the heroine, Lianna?
NH: She is first and foremost a mother. Henry, her son, is the reason she strives to build a new life. She wants a normal life for her child. Because of her past she is suspicious and anxious.
EC: What about the relationship?
NH: Lianna does not trust Reece initially. They both are confused by their feelings and have awkward moments.
EC: Henry has interests of baseball and video games?
NH: Because Henry used to live in San Francisco I made him a Giants fan. Since they moved to Wyoming to open a bed and breakfast, he became a Twins fan. Wyoming does not have Major League baseball, so I looked it up and found that most Wyomians root for the Minnesota Twins. I wanted to put in baseball because I am a huge fan that roots for the St. Louis Cardinals. The video game was put in because my son was seven, the same age as Henry, when I wrote this book, and that is his interest.
EC: A scene in Shot Through The Heart reminded me of the scene in “Misery.”
NH: I have never seen it. But I did want the hero chained to the bed and thought it would be entertaining to have him wake up from a concussion and see he is captured. Then he realizes it was not done by a bad guy but by the heroine who seems to hold her own with him.
EC: Why the farm setting?
NH: I love farms and farm animals. One of my first books involved a farm. I wanted to return to that, so I made the heroine own a farm and not involved with the military or cowboys. She has a crazy animal menagerie.
EC: How would you describe the heroine, Willa?
NH: Deceptively naïve and innocent. She wants a quiet and simple life, far from the life of her parents, who is the big mystery in this story. She is resilient, determined, independent, honest, a fighter, and self-sufficient.
EC: Willa is a paradox?
NH: She pretends to be a solitary farm girl with an aura of helplessness. A silly farm girl who is sheltered, vulnerable, and immature. The Willa that she is, versus the Willa she wants to be are at odds.
EC: How would you describe the hero, Holden?
NH: Deceptively laid back, protective, calm, strong, and a quick thinker.
EC: What about the relationship?
NH: Both are baffled by each other, but as they work together, they realize they can rely on each other. In the beginning, Holden underestimates her.
EC: What about your next books?
NH: This will be a six-book series with Shay’s story as the last book. The next book is Mountain Side Murder and it’s out in December. It is Sabrina’s story and opens with the same scene as the one in Shot Through The Heart as they get their assignments. Holden is in this one and they continue to have their siblingesque relationship. The book after that will by Elsie’s book. She is not only the tech guru in this book but gets into the field because the mission is in her hometown. There is not a title yet and it will be out in January.