Fade the Heat

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Colleen Thompson's first book for Dorchester, Fatal Error, launched a line of fast-paced, steamy romantic suspense and was a 2005 RITA award finalist and winner of the Texas Gold Award. "First, you gotta find the perfect bottle," the Firebug rasped. "Too hard, and it won't bust when it hits the floor. Too thin, and it explodes on impact with the window, splashing you with the fuel mix and burning you to hell." Someone is setting fires in the Houston barrio, and Dr. Jack Montoya is the first intended victim. Is ...
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Overview

Colleen Thompson's first book for Dorchester, Fatal Error, launched a line of fast-paced, steamy romantic suspense and was a 2005 RITA award finalist and winner of the Texas Gold Award. "First, you gotta find the perfect bottle," the Firebug rasped. "Too hard, and it won't bust when it hits the floor. Too thin, and it explodes on impact with the window, splashing you with the fuel mix and burning you to hell." Someone is setting fires in the Houston barrio, and Dr. Jack Montoya is the first intended victim. Is there some connection between the torching of his apartment and the gorgeous blonde from his past who appears at his clinic that same day? For sure, Reagan Hurley turns up the flames of his libido, but these days the beautiful firefighter is more interested in putting out conflagrations than fanning old sparks. Yet when a hotly contested mayoral race turns ugly, when Reagan's life is threatened and Jack's career almost destroyed, when desire sizzles uncontrollably between them, it seems that no one will be able to... Fade the Heat.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
RITA finalist Thompson takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride full of surprising twists and turns in this exceptional novel of romantic suspense. Dr. Jack Montoya becomes the unwilling flash point for two opposing radical groups attempting to influence the Houston mayoral race after someone leaks his habit of falsifying patient records to allow the treatment of illegal immigrant children. Back into his life stumbles a childhood friend, beautiful but troubled firefighter Reagan Hurley, who seeks his help to control and hide the asthma that threatens her career. When an arsonist torches Jack's apartment and Reagan's captain dies, her association with Jack stirs her team's suspicion. The heat intensifies throughout the story, which balances extreme tension with a scorchingly honest relationship between the protagonists. Married to a firefighter in real life, Thompson (Fatal Error) conveys the details of fire fighting and emergency medicine with authenticity and finely crafted prose. She more than holds her own in territory blazed by Tami Hoag and Tess Gerritsen. Agent, Helen Breitweiser at Cornerstone Literary Agency. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780505526489
  • Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/29/2005
  • Series: Love Spell Romantic Suspense Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

From the historical novels that began her writing journey (written as Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton) to the riveting romantic suspense that has become her trademark, Colleen Thompson writes stories that show us that sometimes, love can kill. In 2004, Colleen Thompson's first romantic thriller, Fatal Error, launched Dorchester's line of fast-paced, steamy romantic suspense. The book was nominated for the RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense and won the Texas Gold for Best Mainstream Fiction. Other honors received by her books include a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, nominations from the Reviewers International Organization, Top Pick, KISS awards, and a reviewers’ choice award nomination from Romantic Times Book Club, and a Perfect Ten from Romance Reviews Today. Now residing in the Houston area with her husband and son, Colleen works with children in addition to her writing and speaking. When she’s not on deadline, she can often be found hiking with her family, playing with her pets, fiddling with her computer, or with her nose stuck in a good book.

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Read an Excerpt

FADE THE HEAT


By Colleen Thompson

Dorchester Publishing

Copyright © 2004 Dorchester Publishing
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-505-52648-4


Chapter One

"First, you gotta find the perfect bottle," said the Firebug, his voice a rasping whisper that hurt to listen to. "Too hard, and it won't bust when it hits the floor. Too thin, and it explodes on impact with the window, splashing you with fuel mix and burning you to hell."

The visitor leaning over his bed looked down into the noseless face, most of which was mercifully hidden by a thick compression garment. He didn't have to worry that the poor bastard would see him staring because the Firebug's eyelids had been seared off, too, and the burn unit nurses bandaged whatever had been left behind them. Probably something that looked like a couple of freaking chunks of charcoal anyway.

Suppressing a shudder, the visitor asked, "So once you've found this perfect bottle, what do you put in there, other than the gas?"

When the Firebug tried to answer, the resulting hiss sounded like sand blown across a windshield.

"Water?" the visitor asked. Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed a cup from the narrow bedside table and held it, though it made him want to puke to watch the man he'd idolized working the bent straw like a baby at a tit.

When he had finished, the Firebug said, "You want it to flare right up, but it don't do any good if it just flashes and goes out. Works best if you make it sticky, so it won't come off of stuff."

Such as flesh and bone ... For the first time, the visitor noticed the way the Firebug's hands were bandaged, and it occurred that he must be missing fingers. Maybe all of them.

"And you gotta mix in something else, too," the injured man said. "Somethin' to keep things cooking for a while. Man can burn a tank that way. That's how they did it in the big war."

"What are you, the goddamn History Channel?" The visitor was itching to get the hell out of this place. It stank, for one thing, smelled like medicine and heavy duty cleaners overlaying an undisguisable whiff of human shit. "I just want the recipe, that's all."

"And I gotta have the details. A-all of them." The voice broke like a wave. "What do - what else do I have to live for? You tell me what you're gonna do, I'll help you. Otherwise -"

"You don't tell me, I'm gonna -"

"You're gonna do what? Kill me? Go ahead, I'd welcome it. Just tell me how you're gonna use the thing, for God's sake. Let me hear the flames speak one more time. Let me smell the smoke. You know you can trust me. You know I'll never say a word, and I'll tell you how to make the best Molotov cocktail this city's ever seen. Maybe the whole damned state of Texas."

The visitor nodded, forgetting the Firebug's blindness for the moment. "All right, then," he said, moving around to block the closed door with a chair. "I can tell you this much, and I swear I'll come back once it's over and give you every detail."

He heard the Firebug's breathing quicken, wouldn't be surprised if the pathetic son of a bitch was getting hard. Presuming his little mishap had left him anything to stiffen.

Swallowing back the thought, the visitor said, "I'm going to burn a man's apartment. And then I'm going to do the man himself. And he's a doctor, can you beat that? I guess I'm moving on up in this world."

* * *

Five-year-old Jaime Perez had taken exception to his vaccination shot. So much so that Dr. Jack Montoya's ears rang and his shin ached as he limped out of the exam room.

Gratefully, Jack closed the door on the boy's howls and silently blessed the poor mother, who was struggling to console him with the roll of stickers Jack had left her.

On his way to his next patient, Jack peeked past the reception counter and into the waiting room. There, a pack of tiny, dark-haired children shredded outdated magazines while exhausted-looking women pretended not to notice. Old men hawked into folded handkerchiefs, and a hugely-pregnant woman was vomiting into a trashcan. Adding to the mayhem, the TV hanging near the water-stained ceiling blared a Spanish-language game show no one watched.

Four-thirty and the crowd hadn't thinned a bit, despite the unseasonably cold October rain rattling against the skylights. Jack cursed the fellow doctor who'd walked out the day before, after he'd been held up at knifepoint in the parking lot at lunch. Jack knew he ought to be more sympathetic, but between the clinic's low pay and the neighborhood of derelict old houses, boarded-up taquerias, and rough-and-tumble bars, it could be months before they landed a replacement - if the hospital board didn't nix the idea in the latest round of budget cuts.

Hurrying to the next exam room, he grabbed the patient's chart. Before he could read it, the new nurse, Carlota Sanchez, flagged him down.

"Dr. Montoya, it's Mr. Winter - Darren Winter - on the line." Carlota's brown eyes were huge, and the hand covering the telephone receiver's mouthpiece shook a little. Twenty-two and fresh from nursing school, she had been flashing Jack flirtatious smiles for weeks, which proved she hadn't been in the profession long enough to absorb the male-physicians-are-scum attitude embraced by so many of her fellow nurses.

This afternoon, however, Carlota was obviously flustered by the media frenzy that had focused upon Jack. "Reporters have been calling here all day, and now he's on the air, live. Will you talk to him?"

Jack hesitated, thinking maybe he should take it - and tell Houston talk radio's most over-inflated ego where to shove his allegations. Or better yet, Jack could describe for the man's listeners the gut-wrenching horror of watching a child die of a treatable disease. Let them hear the details of the parents' pain, their suffering - and then ask them for suggestions on how to tell the next kid, "Sorry, it's against the law for me to help you. Your family came from Mexico illegally."

Jack would love hearing the man reporters were calling the next Schwarzenegger spin that to his would-be constituency. It probably wouldn't slow the momentum of Winter's listeners' attempts to help him steal next month's mayoral election with a highly-publicized, if unofficial, write-in campaign - but it would feel so good to make the pompous jerk squirm, if only for a moment.

"I'd better not," Jack told Carlota, thinking of the hospital board instead. Since Winter had started his public tirades about the falsified medical records someone had leaked to him, Jack knew his job was on the line. Worse yet, it looked as if the board members might see the incident as the excuse they needed to shut down this chronically under-funded satellite clinic. And leave the kids that he'd been helping completely in the lurch.

Since he didn't have the luxury of venting his frustration, he took the wiser course instead, the one that led to his next patient. But after closing the exam room door behind him and taking one look at the fair-skinned blonde who'd been waiting, he realized he'd been had. The shrewdness of her gaze all but shouted "Press."

"If Darren Winter or one of the newspapers sent you, you can get the hell out of my office." He might be talking tough, but inside Jack was praying that those papers she held wouldn't be copies of the additional files he'd been praying would stay hidden.

Amusement glinted in her blue eyes, and atop the exam table, she crossed long, jean-clad legs. "Well, Montoya," she said, stifling a dry, constricted cough. "I'm surprised you're not in some fancy private practice, what with that brilliant bedside manner."

A grin slanted across model-perfect features - not that he could see her prancing down anybody's runway showing off the latest styles. Above the jeans, a faded blue t-shirt peeped out from beneath an unzipped and well-worn leather jacket. Her lace-up boots, too, looked as if she'd had them a long time. But no way did she live around here, not with that short, but feminine, precision haircut or the trio of tiny, silver rings that ran along each earlobe.

Still, there was something familiar about her, something that reminded him of ...

Feeling like an idiot, he glanced down at her chart, something he normally did before entering an exam room. His gaze fastened on the name across the top.

"Reagan Hurley," he read. Despite his troubles, he smiled at the rush of memory that followed. He hadn't seen her in twenty years, since she and her mother left the city. "I was positive by now you'd have married some bean-counter in the 'burbs, where the two of you would live with three-point-two blond kiddies and a nice big dog to chase around the yard."

She laughed. "You've got the dog part right, but you're off on everything else, right down to the bit where I'm a reporter or some sort of spy. What's the deal with that?"

Jack shook his head and waved off the suspicion. "Bad assumption. Sorry. There's been a little misunderstanding. People have been after me all week, and -" And I'm going to answer for it Monday morning. He pushed aside the thought, which had nagged at him since his supervisor's terse call a few days earlier.

"Forget it," she said before beginning to cough in earnest.

There was a choked quality to the sound Jack didn't like. But before he could ask about it, she handed him the paper she'd been holding.

"I really came to get this signed," she said. "It's a release for work. Just a formality, you know? Some stupid hoop they make you jump through."

Something in him unclenched when he saw the paper was what she claimed. Maybe nothing more would surface. Maybe whichever clinic employee had leaked the information only found the one discrepancy.

Or maybe today's rash of reporter phone calls meant that someone, somewhere, already had the rest. Though needles of panic jabbed his stomach, he examined Reagan's form.

In the blank beside "Employer", he saw City of Houston. "Don't you have a regular doctor? Surely, your insurance won't cover this clin -"

"Don't sweat it. I'll be paying cash today."

Alarm bells went off in his head, and resentment spiked through him at the thought of all the patients - real patients - out there waiting, while he and a single nurse practitioner struggled through an endless afternoon.

"So tell me about your pain," he prompted, because that was what such visits invariably came to. A wrenched back, pinched nerves, and a request for drugs to soothe them. He'd seen it far too often, but for reasons he could not explain, he felt especially disappointed this time.

She shook her head. "I damned well didn't drive over here on a day like this to worm some prescription out of you. I'm not in any pain, and I'm sure as hell no junkie."

Her anger sent a meteor-bright image arcing across his memory: that day near the secluded bayou bend when a girl in pigtails had played David, whacking the meanest Goliath their neighborhood - this neighborhood - had to offer between the eyes with a smooth stone. With a lump rising on his forehead and a fist-sized rock clutched in his hand, Paulo Rodriguez and his bad-ass brothers might have killed her if Jack hadn't intervened. Still, eight-year-old Reagan hadn't backed down for a second.

Like him, would she carry that terrifying memory forever?

Because whether she'd forgotten it or not, he saw that some of that old spirit lingered, no matter what her current problems.

"Then why were you off work?" he asked as he pulled a stethoscope from the pocket of his white coat. "That cough?"

She shrugged. "It's nothing but a cold. I get them - or allergies or something, especially days like this. But I was sent home because I took a little smoke."

Over the heating system's noisy, if ineffectual, efforts, Jack heard the rasping sound her breath made. After scanning the vitals recorded by the nurse - all normal - he glanced down at the questionnaire Reagan had filled out. It was the first one he'd seen written on the English side all day.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from FADE THE HEAT by Colleen Thompson Copyright © 2004 by Dorchester Publishing. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    Ask anyone who knows me and my reading habits, and they'll tell you that romantic suspense is my favorite genre-and it's authors like Colleen Thompson who keep feeding my obsession. Being fortunate enough to read Fatal Error, her 2004 release that went on to become a RITA finalist, I was anxious to get my hands on FADE THE HEAT. Let me tell you, you cannot possibly go wrong with this book. From heart-pounding action-adventure to immersion into the world of the hero and heroine to palm-sweating, sizzling romance, this book is at the top of what the romantic suspense genre is all about. <BR/><BR/>Dr. Jack Montoya has only one goal in life, and that's to be the best doctor he can be. He's always been determined to do whatever he can for the people in his Spanish barrio community in Houston. The son of a Mexican man who drowned while trying to illegally enter the United States, Joaquin "Jack" Montoya has been accused of both being too sensitive to the needs of Mexicans, and not being Mexican enough. Now that the press has found out about his practice of doctoring his paperwork to provide free health care to the children of illegal immigrants, he's being alternately crucified and canonized for his activities. Jack, though, doesn't want to be a scapegoat or a saint-he simply wants to live up to the Hippocratic Oath and do all that he can for the sick individuals who enter the East End Clinic. Unfortunately, doing anything doesn't apply to falsifying medical records for beautiful firefighter Reagan Hurley. <BR/><BR/>For Reagan, being a firefighter for the city of Houston is all she ever wanted to be. It defines who she is, and she's determined that being diagnosed with asthma will not slow her down. Except the asthma is slowing her down, is, in fact, threatening to end her fire-fighting career in its tracks. She went to Dr. Montoya's office both because she knew him personally, and because she assumed that with his sympathies towards illegal immigrants, he might be willing to help her out. Reagan needs a doctor who will sign off on her medical forms, and she had hoped Jack would be the one to do so. But then he tells her, in no uncertain terms, that he won't jeopardize his own career-or disobey the Oath-to lie to her superiors about her health situation, especially when it could get her killed. So Reagan leaves the clinic, mad at both Jack and the world and her own body's traitorous condition. <BR/><BR/>Later the same day, Jack's apartment is the victim of a torching, and his mind immediately turns towards Reagan. Was she so angry at him that she would set his home on fire? If that's the case, then how did Reagan's Captain end up dead? <BR/><BR/>As the heat intensifies, with fires being set all over the barrio, Reagan becomes the main suspect in the eyes of her fellow firefighters. As for Jack, he's now fighting both the press over the practices of his Clinic, and his growing feelings for Reagan. As the two of them delve ever deeper into the mystery of who's behind the arsons, they must learn to trust in each other and the power of their convictions. <BR/><BR/>FADE THE HEAT is one book all lovers of romantic suspense will not want to miss. The action never stops, nor does the growing relationship between Jack and Reagan. These are two characters who are all too human in their thoughts and feelings, and the story is better for it. Thanks, Ms. Thompson, for such a compelling and enjoyable read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Originally Posted on Romance Junkies

    Ask anyone who knows me and my reading habits, and they'll tell you that romantic suspense is my favorite genre-and it's authors like Colleen Thompson who keep feeding my obsession. Being fortunate enough to read Fatal Error, her 2004 release that went on to become a RITA finalist, I was anxious to get my hands on FADE THE HEAT. Let me tell you, you cannot possibly go wrong with this book. From heart-pounding action-adventure to immersion into the world of the hero and heroine to palm-sweating, sizzling romance, this book is at the top of what the romantic suspense genre is all about. Dr. Jack Montoya has only one goal in life, and that's to be the best doctor he can be. He's always been determined to do whatever he can for the people in his Spanish barrio community in Houston. The son of a Mexican man who drowned while trying to illegally enter the United States, Joaquin 'Jack' Montoya has been accused of both being too sensitive to the needs of Mexicans, and not being Mexican enough. Now that the press has found out about his practice of doctoring his paperwork to provide free health care to the children of illegal immigrants, he's being alternately crucified and canonized for his activities. Jack, though, doesn't want to be a scapegoat or a saint-he simply wants to live up to the Hippocratic Oath and do all that he can for the sick individuals who enter the East End Clinic. Unfortunately, doing anything doesn't apply to falsifying medical records for beautiful firefighter Reagan Hurley. For Reagan, being a firefighter for the city of Houston is all she ever wanted to be. It defines who she is, and she's determined that being diagnosed with asthma will not slow her down. Except the asthma is slowing her down, is, in fact, threatening to end her fire-fighting career in its tracks. She went to Dr. Montoya's office both because she knew him personally, and because she assumed that with his sympathies towards illegal immigrants, he might be willing to help her out. Reagan needs a doctor who will sign off on her medical forms, and she had hoped Jack would be the one to do so. But then he tells her, in no uncertain terms, that he won't jeopardize his own career-or disobey the Oath-to lie to her superiors about her health situation, especially when it could get her killed. So Reagan leaves the clinic, mad at both Jack and the world and her own body's traitorous condition. Later the same day, Jack's apartment is the victim of a torching, and his mind immediately turns towards Reagan. Was she so angry at him that she would set his home on fire? If that's the case, then how did Reagan's Captain end up dead? As the heat intensifies, with fires being set all over the barrio, Reagan becomes the main suspect in the eyes of her fellow firefighters. As for Jack, he's now fighting both the press over the practices of his Clinic, and his growing feelings for Reagan. As the two of them delve ever deeper into the mystery of who's behind the arsons, they must learn to trust in each other and the power of their convictions. FADE THE HEAT is one book all lovers of romantic suspense will not want to miss. The action never stops, nor does the growing relationship between Jack and Reagan. These are two characters who are all too human in their thoughts and feelings, and the story is better for it. Thanks, Ms. Thompson, for such a compelling and enjoyable read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2005

    Action Packed and Sizzling Hot!

    Reagan Hurley is a tough, kick-butt sort of a girl. You have to be when you¿re a firefighter on Houston¿s urban streets. It¿s the only thing she¿s ever wanted to do, since her father died a hero fighting a fire when she was just a kid. Reagan works hard for her reputation of `matching male rookies axe-stroke for axe-stroke ¿ despite her slender five-six frame¿. But now her career is threatened by the damnable weakness in her own body, asthma. Not willing to give up her hard won position in suppression, she searches out a childhood friend, knowing he¿s now a doctor in a poor county sponsored clinic ¿ a doctor who can sign the medical release she needs to return to the job. . . . . Dr. Jack Montoya¿s childhood taught him to survive by walking a narrow path between right and wrong in a tough neighborhood barrio. Now he uses that skill to manipulate social programs to get much needed medical help for illegal immigrant children. But someone blows the whistle on Jack, and has the city¿s `tell-all¿ talk radio host, one trying to steal the upcoming mayoral election with sensationalism, trying to feed Jack to the hungry crowd. . . . When Jack doesn¿t sign Reagan¿s release, she knows her choices are limited. She can `cave in now or go down swinging, but Reagan Hurley is looking for Option C . . . some passage through this firestorm that would help her `fade the heat.¿ Even though she¿s angered at Jack¿s refusal to help her, the sparks ignited from their reunion burn bright. . . . A series of incidents, which at first seem unrelated, draw the two together, deeper into a twisting tunnel of danger. Soon it becomes evident that they are the targets. As these two fight to solve the mystery that threatens their lives and the lives of their loved ones, both are forced to question truths they¿ve always counted on. But sometimes enough heat can melt black and white into gray, blending the essence of their realities. . . . Take a serving of political intrigue mixed with a portion of social fanaticism, throw in some petty jealousy and personal vendettas, and you have a complex story filled with non-stop action. Season it with a sprinkling of tasty secondary characters: Jack¿s sister Luz Maria, the Firebug, Reagan¿s neighbor Peaches, and a white greyhound named Frank Lee. Fire the oven with Jack and Reagan¿s torch for each other, and Colleen Thompson serves up a spicy treat of suspense along with a passion too hot to handle. . . . If you enjoy page turning tension that never lets up, not to mention trying to figure out a whodunit, this book is for you. It¿ll keep you guessing until the very end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great thriller

    All he wanted to do was live up to the Hippocratic Oath by providing medical care to the children of illegal immigrants. Instead Dr. Jack Montoya has become pilloried on talk show radio for providing services that enable these outsiders to stay and becoming a hero worshipped by the Latino community for getting involved. He wants neither he just wants to be recognized as a good doctor by his patients......................... Asthmatic firefighter Reagan Hurley turns to Jack her childhood friend to sign documents that would allow her to return to work, but instead he shows a siege mentality behaving nasty and cynical towards her. Jack refuses to sign anything as he warily has become a victim of a war on illegal aliens. When an arsonist tries to burn down Jack¿s apartment, but in the process kills Reagan¿s captain, they team up to bring this fiery killer to justice while trying to overcome being considered pariahs by everyone including her peers. This drives them close to each other as love blossoms between them.................... The arson homicide who-done-it is cleverly designed so that the audience never knows who committed the act until the climax. Yet as exhilarating as that key subplot is, the story line is owned by the lead couple as readers will commiserate with Reagan wanting to return to the front lines and with a beleaguered Jack tired of his fifteen minutes as a pawn. Colleen Thompson keeps the heat high with this strong thriller that also focuses on the issue of medical and other public assistance to the children of illegal immigrants............. Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 22, 2010

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    Posted August 24, 2011

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