BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #46: Heller by JD Nixon
I’m reviewing this after the Little Town books, even though I read the Heller books first. Even though I read the entire series very quickly in a row, I’m going to split the reviews up because I think the characters change a great deal in this character driven series. Heller is a free ebook offered via Barnes and Noble or on Smashwords and is the first in a series by author JD Nixon.
The first person protagonist of Heller is Tilly (short for Matilda) Chalmers, a twenty-something failure as an actress. When she’s fired from her latest acting job (appearing as a piece of watermelon in a children’s educational play), she answers a want ad for a job that provides minimal description. It turns out to be “client management” for a security firm called Heller’s. After a disastrous interview, Tilly lands the job which requires her to live on-site along with her boss and several co-workers. Her boss is the titular Heller, an impossibly gorgeous and kind of psychopathic Scandinavian who refuses to tell anyone his origins. Along the way, he has rescued a number of people who now work for or otherwise live with and idolize him, including a teenage Goth named Niq and a badly scarred man Tilly’s age named Daniel. He has built a family around himself and now installs Tilly as a mother figure.
The job itself starts out interestingly enough and poses some ethical questions. The first job requires Tilly to act as a companion to the young wife of a wealthy middle Eastern businessman who wants to make sure she is safe and has a proper chaperone. Sounds easy, but the wife turns out to be a young Englishwoman who despises her husband and lifestyle, and wants to go out and party while she can. Rather than the sedate museum trips and dinners the man had imagined, the wife is actually planning on clubbing and cheap sex. Tilly must negotiate how to cover for the client, yet keep them both safe from the woman’s poor judgement. As the reader, you’re rooting for the young woman to just leave the husband since she’s so miserable.
Adding to the story is that of course, Tilly and Heller are very attracted to each other, but they want very different things. She is looking for a fairly traditional relationship while he lives his life as a series of one night stands. This seems to set up the story for either he’ll have to change, or she’ll have to get over him.
Here’s something I found odd but interesting about the book: it is set in Australia. I mention this because the only reason I figured it out was that I looked up the author’s website. I initially thought it was set in England due discussion of things like money coming from the council and drinking tea, but then there was mention of paying in dollars. Huh? So if you read it, here’s a heads up, it is actually set in Australia. (That does become clearer in the later books.) I just thought it weird that there was no way to tell what country it was set in.
This is not a hugely plot driven book, it doesn’t have a big mystery or a big romance, but it is a lot of fun. Tilly is a fun character who enjoys what she does and working her way through things, and thus fun to read about.