Taking the Heat :: Brenda Novak | New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author
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Taking the Heat

TakingTheHeatTo support herself and her one-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Hadley is working as a prison guard – just about the only job available in the small desert town of Florence, Arizona.

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 eight-year-old son.

When he escapes during a prison transfer, Gabrielle follows him into the unforgiving desert. Within the course of a single day, staying alive becomes the only thing that matters. The balance of power between guard and prisoner changes as they’re drawn together in a struggle to survive.

It’s a relationship that’s not supposed to exist – and yet it might save them both.


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Chapter One

Suddenly Gabrielle stopped. From where she stood, she could see part of the valley below. Tucker wasn’t in it, but a giant rock stood between her and a full panorama. He could be hurrying down the mountain beyond her sight, in which case she was losing valuable time. Or he could be standing behind the rock that obscured her view, in which case caution could save her life.

Her eyes scanned all they could see, but nothing, no movement, sight or sound gave him away. Pressing herself to the outcropping that could just as easily be providing him cover, she drew her gun. “Tucker? Are you there?”

No answer. She inched forward, craning her neck to see farther than a couple of feet at a time. “Tucker? I’m not here to hurt you. You know I’ll be as fair as possible. But what you’re doing isn’t right, and it isn’t safe.”

She stopped, listened. Nothing. Was he even there? She was probably making a fool of herself. “Come on, Tucker. We both know I have to take you in.”

The sound of some small rocks being dislodged came to her from farther down the mountain, and she let her breath go in relief. She was jittery, that’s all. He was hurrying on.

Shoving her Glock in her holster, she abandoned caution in favor of catching a glimpse of him before he could disappear again. But her forward motion was halted mid-stride when he tackled her, bringing her down hard on her left side.

The jolt of pain that accompanied her fall stole her breath as Randall Tucker landed on top of her. Blinking to clear the sudden spots from her eyes, she felt panic surge through her body like an electric current as he loomed over her.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to object to a return trip,” he said, keeping her pinned beneath him while he relieved her of her gun.


Original Cover

This book was originally released in 2003 with the original cover left.



This was a terrific book…the characters were extremely well drawn and complex. All the secondary characters contributed to the story, and the plot was fast moving and refreshingly unpredictable. An excellent book, I highly recommend Taking The Heat by Brenda Novak and look forward to more by this talented author.
– Jennifer, 4 and 1/2 roses

Library Journal

“Heat, both environmental and emotional, abounds in this fast-paced drama that takes its protagonists on a harrowing trek worthy of a top-flight adventure story yet provides all the sexual tension a romance reader could want. Vividly realistic descriptions, especially of the disturbing prison scenes and the desert experience, combine with the classic man-falsely-accused or “Fugitive” plotline, the added appeal of children, and a satisfying romantic relationship to produce an intense story that is more complex than the simple captor/captive tale one might expect… Readers will be quickly drawn in to this well-written, multifaceted story that is an engrossing, compelling read–complete with a sense of justice.”
– Kristin Ramsdell, Romance Reviewer for Library Journal

All About Romance

“Taking the Heat took me by surprise. Not only did it have a stalwart hero, it had a pretty stalwart heroine as well. Now, you wouldn’t think there’d be much appeal to a romance that centers on a female corrections officer in an Arizona state prison, would you? But somehow, some way, Brenda Novak makes this unique premise work, and I found myself caring very much about what happened to Officer Gabrielle Hadley and convicted murderer Randall Tucker…It was easy to see why they’d fall in love and feel worthy of each other. I got into the book immediately and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it – a very good sign. Even with the unusual premise, there is a lot to like here, and I think you should give this one a try.”
Marianne Stillings

Huntress Book Reviews

“Vivid…intense…compelling. You have not read many books like this one.”
–Amanda Killgore

Amazon Reviews

“Exciting…nonstop action…Brenda Novak provides a wonderful romantic fugitive.”
–Harriet Klausner, #1 Reviewer

Romantic Times

“Novak masterfully takes readers into a gritty world in this well-researched work.”
–Debbie Richardson, Romantic Times

Road to Romance Reviews

Ms. Novak does a nice job of blending intense emotional scenes with life-or-death situations. Taking the Heat. . .has all the components of a well-written novel, with a zesty romance that will leave readers wanting more!
Janean Nusz, Road to Romance Reviews

Romance Reviews Today

“If you’re looking for a romance with some meat on it, TAKING THE HEAT is for you. Your only hunger will be for more books from the very talented Brenda Novak.”
Amy Cunningham, Romance Reviews Today

Publisher’s Weekly

“Novak’s story is richly dramatic, with a stark setting that distinguishes it nicely from the lusher worlds of other romances.”

AOL Romance Community

“Brenda Novak has yet an other winner in her latest book “Taking The Heat.” You will be riveted from the first page to the last…I couldn’t put it down.”

–June Phyllis Baker

The Best Reviews

“This story started out with a bang and believe me, it didn’t stop through the whole story! I really wasn’t sure how I would like a story about a convicted murderer and a prison guard but Brenda Novak knows how to hook a reader…There was lots of tension and angst in this book but in a good way. I eagerly look forward to Brenda Novak’s next book.”

–Kathy Boswell, Managing Editor

Reader To Reader Reviews

“Terrific! Ms. Novak always comes up with something different. Her characters are three dimensional and riveting. She has relationships down pat. Don’t miss this one!”

–Suzanne Coleburn,

The Romance Reader

“The story is compelling…a good mix of romance and suspense.”

–Judith Flavell

A Romance Review

An excellent book, I highly recommend Taking The Heat…and look forward to more by this talented author.

Writers Unlimited

“With TAKING THE HEAT Brenda Novak has written exactly the kind of story that readers want to read. . . spellbinding.”

–Diana Tidlund