by Nicole Helm
& Interview by Elise Cooper
A Badlands Cops Series
by Nicole Helm is a must read for anyone who wants
a great suspense story intertwined with a romance
and very likeable protagonists. These novels explore
if children can escape the sins of their father, who
is the ruthless head of a murderous gang.
The first book in the series, South Dakota Showdown
has the oldest of the six Wyatt brothers, Jamison,
helping his former beau, Liza rescue her four-year-old-kid
step-sister Gigi. He resents her for going back into
the gang, Sons of the Badlands, after he had rescued
her from the claws of these dastardly men. Now, fifteen
years later, he learns she went back for her sisters,
and to try to do the same thing he did for his brothers,
to save them, and help them escape. She can’t
do it alone and enlists the help of her old flame,
Jamison, a police officer. Together they try to outwit
his father, Ace, and rescue Gigi as they learn the
gang is involved in sex trafficking. As they face
intense danger they realize that their love for each
other has not died and will do anything in their power
to save each other and Gigi.
The next book in the series, Covert Complication,
highlights the youngest of the brothers, Cody, and
someone he was in love with, Nina. She had left him
seven years ago to protect Cody and their child, having
been warned off by Ace. Now back because she can no
longer battle the gang on her own, Nina informs Cody
they have a child, Brianna. Cody and Nina must team
together to protect their child by deciding to go
on the run. Using his skills as an agent in a mysterious
agency, Cody knows that he and Nina can draw Ace away
from Brianna. While hiding they realize that the flame
of love was not snuffed out and understand that if
they escape the gang’s clutches they will become
a family again.
The third book in the series, Backcountry Escape,
features a middle brother, Gage, and the heroine,
Felicity. He has a law enforcement background and
she is a Park Ranger, her dream job. Because she helped
Cody and Nina, Ace is out for revenge and vengeance,
wanting nothing more than to kill Felicity He and
his gang attempt to frame her for murder, hoping she
will run and they can achieve their goal. Knowing
she needs help, Felicity calls upon Brady Wyatt, someone
she has had a crush on for ages. But he cannot come
to her rescue and instead sends his brother Gage.
As the two of them play a cat and mouse game with
Ace they realize that they can accept each other for
who they are. From acquaintances to friends to lovers
they recognize that they can count on each other and
have formed an inseparable bond.
These first three books will be covered in the following
Q A, with the last three covered sometime in the summer.
If people have not read Nicole Helm they might want
to because her novels always have a riveting mystery
with great relationship stories that include brother
to brother, sister to sister, and hero to heroine.
All the novels are fast-paced and have realistic action.
Why the Badland series?
Nicole Helm: I wanted to write a crime and
mystery series that has some romance, basically romantic
suspense. I decided to have six brothers and six sisters,
where one brother and one sister will be featured
in each book. Although the brothers are all birth
related the sisters are either blood relatives, foster
children, or adopted, but the girls still look upon
each other as family. I figured out each personality
as I wrote each book.
Elise: How would you describe Ace, the over-arching
bad guy of the series?
Nicole: He is a sociopath and has the qualities
of a cult leader: charismatic, egocentric, manipulative,
and controlling. He is cold, calculating, ruthless,
and someone who is willing to play with people’s
Elise: : Why the South Dakota setting?
Nicole: I was just on vacation there. My
grandmother lived in South Dakota when she was a girl
in a tiny little town. As I was traveling through
I saw a sign that explained how land spectators caused
a bunch of trouble. The story took off from there.
Elise: : Did the last name Wyatt
come from the famous figure Wyatt Earp?
Nicole: I could have sub-consciously come
up with that last name from the historical figure.
When I write western cowboy books I do try to think
of western names.
Elise: : The motherly figure of each
book is Grandma Pauline who raised the brothers after
their mother, her daughter, was killed?
Nicole: Yes. She is tough, a fighter, a straight-talker,
and became the brothers’ defacto mother She
creates a safe-haven for the brothers and they realize,
even as adults she is not someone to argue with.
Elise: : There is Duke, the father
of all six girls?
Nicole: He and his wife, who has since died,
adopted some of the girls and were foster parents
to some of the others, besides raising their own daughter
and their niece. Duke became the same role for the
girls that Grandma Pauline is for the boys. He is
very protective of his daughters.
Elise: : In the series all twelve
characters along with Grandma Pauline and Duke are
involved in each story?
Nicole: Yes, because the story comes about
because of the strong family ties. Throughout, they
help each other. I tried to emphasize that family
is everything whether a nuclear family or a foster
family. It does not matter if someone is related biologically,
through adoption, or by being a foster child. A family
is what people make of it. In this series they all
connect and support each other. I wanted to show how
each sibling could be viewed differently depending
on their relationship and age difference. They all
interacted in different ways.
Elise: : In the first book, how would
you describe the hero Jamison?
Nicole: He is responsible, uptight, and always
wants to do the right thing. He is also humble, serious,
trustworthy, and a father figure to the brothers.
Elise: : How about Liza?
Nicole: Bold, confidant, loyal, protective,
and stubborn with good instincts.
Elise: : How about their relationship?
Nicole: They butt-heads at first. In their
younger years they had a relationship but she left
and Jamison was very hurt. He now holds a grudge and
is a bit hateful. They have to work through this tortured
tension where Jamison sees everything as black and
white and Liza sees all the grey areas. In the end
of the day, love is about forgiving and acceptance.
Elise: : Book 2 did not highlight
the next brother in age but the youngest, Cody?
Nicole: Originally, he was not going to be
second. But since he had such a big role in book one
it made sense to me to make him the hero in book two.
He beats to his own drum and did not go into law enforcement
like all of his brothers. He is more independent,
brave, an introvert, likes to be in control, and has
trouble admitting when wrong.
Elise: : How would you describe the
Nicole: Protective, courageous, has a soft
heart, and the core of her being is motherhood. She
is a survivor and tough. I wanted to show that for
a parent the biggest danger is fearing that their
children could be hurt.
Elise: : What about their relationship?
Nicole: This was another reunion. She had
disappeared for seven years. There was a lot of baggage
after she came back that the two had to overcome.
Since they truly loved each other it won out.
Elise: : In book 3 the hero was Gage?
Nicole: I originally had his twin brother
Brady as the hero. But, there was not a lot of tension
because of their personalities so I shifted it around
and had Gage as the hero. He is light-hearted, calm,
and even-keeled with a sense of humor. Unlike Felicity
he is an extrovert, brash, and confident.
Elise: : How would you describe Felicity?
Nicole: An introvert, dreamy, and lost some
of her shyness/anxiousness because of her job. She
likes routines. I had her stuttering and struggling
to get words out as a physical manifestation of childhood
abuse at the hands of her father
Elise: : The relationship?
Nicole: They both realized they understood
each other. She had to overcome her crush on Brady,
while Gage realized how much he admired her for overcoming
some personality traits.
Elise: : Next Books?
Nicole: The next book in this series will
highlight Brady and Cecilia. After this series is
done I plan on writing a spinoff series. It will feature
the North Star Group that Cody was a part of and highlight
his co-worker Shay. In book five of the Badlands series
the North Star Group will play a prevalent role where
readers can get a better understanding of this group.
Elise and MyShelf.com would like to thank Nicole
Helm for joining us at MyShelf.com.