Taking the Heat
“Fast-paced drama…vividly realistic descriptions… Readers will be quickly drawn in to this well-written, multifaceted story that is an engrossing, compelling read.”—Library Journal
The small town of Florence, Arizona, is known for one thing—its prison. Gabrielle Hadley is in Florence for personal reasons, though; she’s seeking the mother who abandoned her more than two decades ago. In order to support herself and her two-year-old daughter, Gabrielle is working as a prison guard—just about the only job available in this bleak desert town.
Randall Tucker is a prisoner at Florence, convicted of murdering his wife. He has one goal: to survive until he can prove his innocence—and reclaim his seven-year-old son, Landon, now living in foster care.
In the prison’s atmosphere of tension and corruption, Gabrielle discovers that Randall Tucker is far from the murderer he’s said to be. When he escapes during a prison transfer, she follows him into the unforgiving desert. To protect her job, her own integrity—or him? But the guard becomes the prisoner’s captive…and more. It’s a relationship that’s not supposed to exist, and yet it might save them both.
Originally published in 2003
Novak's latest is an energetic if unlikely tale set in the Arizona desert. Divorced mother Gabrielle Hadley has moved to the small town of Florence to be near her birth mother, whom she hopes to approach for the first time. Unfortunately, taking a guard's job in one of the town's many prisons is her only option for employment. When she witnesses convicted murderer Randall Tucker being savagely beaten without any protection from the other guards, she's torn. Should she speak out against her colleagues' corruption, or stay silent despite Tucker's injuries? Her dilemma intensifies when her police car crashes as she and another officer are attempting to transfer Tucker to another prison. Gabrielle follows the fleeing Tucker into the desert, and amid their fight for survival, she comes to believe in his innocence and acknowledge their mutual attraction. When they finally return to civilization, she agrees to harbor both Tucker and the son he has kidnapped from foster care while he fights to gain his freedom. Novak's story is richly dramatic, with a stark setting that distinguishes it nicely from the lusher worlds of other romances. Sadly, its appeal is badly weakened by inconsistent character motivation and an abrupt, all-too-convenient resolution.
Taking the Heat