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Blog Tour Review: Northern Heat by Helene Young

Flat Cover Northern Heat Med ResNorthern Heat
Helene Young
Penguin Books AUS
2015, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

In northern Queensland, Conor is living under an assumed name, working low skilled jobs and trying to find his place in the world again. Working coaching kids at the local youth centre gives him a way to get to know some of the local community and also make a difference in the lives of some young kids.

One of his players has been talking up her mother non-stop and Conor has to admit, Dr Kristy Dark does interest him. But as she is the widowed mother of a teenager, Conor doesn’t want to offer her false hope, not while he’s still living a life in hiding. Kristy deserves better and so does her daughter Abby.

For Kristy, this posting was her chance to start again with Abby after they suffered a devastating loss and then another tragedy. She has made a home for herself in this community, she has made friends. She’s helping someone she knows, someone in a dangerous situation. Abby’s sports coach Conor does complicate things but perhaps not in such a bad way.

When Conor is first on the scene of a local murder, neither he nor Kirsty could even begin to imagine what they would discover about their town. As a dangerous cyclone bears down on Cooktown, Conor, Kristy and Abby find themselves not only at the mercy of the elements but someone who will stop at nothing to continue to get what they want. Conor could lose everything he holds dear again by the time the storm is over, unless Kirsty can trust him and they can work together in a way that just might show them both a brighter future.

If you read Helene Young’s novel previous to this, Safe Harbour then you’ll be familiar with Conor and his tragic backstory. I was very pleased when I realised Young’s next novel would revolve around Conor, moving him from supporting character to front and centre and giving him a chance to find some happiness for himself after all he has gone through. I have to say, I think this story does him perfect justice.

It’s set in Cooktown in far (far) north Queensland, quite a long way away from the furthest north I’ve ever been and definitely a new setting for me. It’s wonderful to find books that take the reader away from the capital cities or the vague “outback” and into new places and as she has done previously, Young uses the setting and the impending cyclone to flesh out her characters and also build tension.

Conor is laying low, still using a false name and still living mostly off the grid, on a boat. For Conor, there are still some dangers out there that prevent him from taking back his life. Dr Kirsty Dark is rebuilding hers and has been ever since she accepted the job in Cooktown. As the mother of a daughter straddling that difficult place between child and grown up, Kirsty faces problems getting Abby to include her in her life and there are several concerns she has, especially with the influences she fears Abby may be exposed to by her friendship with a local girl. Kirsty has made friends with the girl’s mother Freya and knows the ugly secrets behind Freya’s perfect facade as wife to one of the area’s wealthiest men.

Conor and Kirsty are two people who have loved and lost and who I think are both quite lonely for adult companionship, even if they don’t know it. Kirsty has a wonderfully giving and patient nature and her dedication towards helping Freya is only one example of how she goes above and beyond but is also discreet. I think that given the amount of woman who have been murdered by their former or current partners in this year alone in Australia, domestic violence is an issue we are going to see more of in fiction and although it’s mostly only touched on here, it’s still something that permeates the story and gives the reader the ability to place themselves in Freya’s shoes and experience the horror that she is living and what her children are exposed to. In her guest post for me, Helene mentioned that she will definitely write Freya’s story one day which makes me very happy. I think she’s a brave and wonderful character, strong and deserving of a better future and someone who will treat her and her children the way they should be treated.

Earlier I mentioned the way in which the weather is used in this story. The cyclone is a living, breathing character that is used to build the tension and suspense as it bears down on the town and Conor and Kirsty find themselves at its mercy. When the storm hits, the story has hit a peak and then the quiet eye slows the pace, allowing the characters (and the reader) to catch their breath before the second onslaught. It’s a really effective way to pace the story and control the way in which the suspense builds and although I live too far south to have ever really had much experience with cyclones, they’re such a part of Australian life during the season that it’s so easy to imagine what it would be like, even though my imagination probably still doesn’t come close to the fury and danger of being out in one.

I really enjoyed this story and the way that all of the facets were woven together so well. Conor and Kirsty complement each other and I feel as though the characters of the teenage girls were spot on too, which can be difficult to achieve. The thread of suspense running through the plot was interesting and kept the me really invested in hoping that some characters really received what they truly deserved! Helene Young is so incredibly consistent and each time I pick up one of her books I really know I’m going to enjoy the ride.


Book #83 of 2015


Northern Heat is the 33rd book for my participation in the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015

Don’t forget to check out Helene Young’s guest post for my blog and make sure you visit the rest of blogs on the tour as well!



Blog Tour: Author Guest Post ~ Helene Young on Songs Into Words

Helene Young Author Photo (QF) Today I am very excited to welcome one of my favourite Australian authors, Helene Young to my blog. I am participating in a blog tour to support the release of Helene’s latest novel, Northern Heat. My review for Northern Heat will be up on the blog later today so make sure you check back for that! You can find out more details about the tour at the end of this post but for now, Helene is sharing a piece she has written on the songs behind the words of Northern Heat. Thank you Helene!

Songs Into Words…

Are you a music lover? Do you have music playing when you’re working, driving or relaxing?

I love music, particularly when I’m driving. I’m one of those nutcases belting out the words sat in a traffic jam… But when I write I usually prefer silence – though of course my characters’ voices in my head can be pretty rowdy!

Up to now Shattered Sky was the only book I’d written that had a song attached to it.  I never did work out why, but I got into the habit of playing Bonnie Tyler’s rousing ‘I Need a Hero’ just before I sat down to write.  I remember running on a treadmill in the Stamford Hotel’s gym after finishing a late session training pilots in the simulator in Sydney. I had headphones on and was singing along at the top of my voice, thinking about the story and certain no one else would be up at that time of the early morning. I was more than a little embarrassed to see the cleaner with a wide smile waving at me as he left just as the song finished…

But then along came Northern Heat. It was different from the start. Several pieces of music attached themselves straight away.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu singing his beautiful song, ‘Wiyathul’, heads the list. For me the song is so very evocative of the land around Cooktown and Black Mountain. His voice has a spiritual sound that transports me with the opening bars.

Next came that plaintive ballad from A Great Big World and Christine Aguilera – ‘Say Something’. To me is speaks so strongly of physical loss as well as emotional loss and this was Conor’s song as he struggled to come to terms with losing his wife and daughter. He didn’t have the chance to say goodbye, to say any of the things that were in his heart and he was still grieving, sure that he didn’t deserve to find love again. I believed he deserved redeeming but he wasn’t sure about that himself.

Pink’s ‘Just Give Me A Reason’ was Kristy’s song. Kristy’s previous marriage had left scars that were always going to be hard to heal. Was the domestic violence real or perceived? Was he controlling or caring? Was he simply older than her and teaching her or was he changing her, ruling her.  The way that marriage ended left her with unanswered questions, left her unsure whether she did have the strength to be her own woman, despite her successful career. She questioned whether she could be a good mother to Abby or whether even there she was failing.  Was her ex-husband right and she was bad mother? Or was she imagining it?

And finally there was ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ by Labrinth. Freya is a secondary character in Northern Heat, but through her actions, and those of her family, she has a huge impact on the story. I know I’ll write her story one day. She’s a beautiful young woman who’s troubled past has taught her that she’s only as good as her looks.  She’s trapped in a marriage that’s spiraling deeper and deeper into violence, but with two children to support she’s terrified of leaving and petrified of staying. The song gave me the optimism to write her story as it was, warts and all, knowing that she would have to face her demons one day.

I hope you enjoy the four songs that provided the backdrop for Northern Heat. Capt G and Zeus are both very glad I’ve finished writing it and there’s different music onboard Roobinesque again!

I suspect the need for music was because Northern Heat, like Burning Lies, is an intimate story.  It’s about a struggling single mum juggling a busy career as a doctor, a man in need of redemption and a teenager hell bent on finding love for her mother again.  At the heart of it is domestic violence, the ripple effect that it can have on the individual, the family and the wider community. Maybe because it is a dark theme I needed music to feed my soul.

If you’re a reader  – do you listen to music when you read? If you’re a writer – do you need music playing when you write?

I’d love to hear what works for you


To celebrate the release of my sixth book I have six prize packs to give away. Four of them are duos of SAFE HARBOUR and NORTHERN HEAT and one major prize is a complete set of my six books. For international readers there is a duo of e-books to be won. To enter leave a comment here or share the post and/or the trailer on social media site and I’ll double your chances! Hope to see you through May at the following blogs:

5th May:

7th May:

10th May:

12th May:

14th May:

17th May:

19th May:

21st May:

24th May:

26th May:

28th May:

31st May:

2nd June: Wrap up and announce the winner on my blog-


Northern Heat – Release date 27th May, 2015 In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and the opportunity to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark. The local GP is hiding her own secrets and struggling to raise her feisty teenage daughter alone. When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.

Author Bio When Helene’s not writing novels she enjoys a busy career as the Queensland Regional Flying Manager with Australia’s largest regional airline. She’s worked in aviation for over 25 years and has 260 pilots reporting into her. She recently appeared in ‘Judith Lucy is All Woman’ in an episode showcasing women in aviation. She has twice won the highly coveted RWA’s Romantic Book of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and was shortlisted for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Crime and Suspense. She has also been nominated in the Ned Kelly and Sisters in Crime Awards. Helene’s last novel, Safe Harbour, was voted Australia’s 2014 Favourite Romantic Suspense Novel. This is the fourth time Helene’s stories have won the award. A motivational speaker and writing mentor, Helene lives aboard a catamaran on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and she plans one day to sail around the world in it.

Pre-order Buy Links

Northern Heat Trailer You Tube: HTML version : Flat Cover Northern Heat Med Res