Taking the Heat [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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Taking the Heat

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Wrongly convicted of his wife's murder and desperate both to prove his innocence and regain custody of his young son, Randall Tucker escapes into the Arizona desert. Pursuing him is rookie prison guard Gabrielle Hadley, the one person who came to Randall's defense during a prison brawl and who is not about to let him die. "Heat" abounds in this fast-paced drama, which takes its protagonists on a harrowing trek while providing all the sexual tension a romance reader could want. Vividly and realistically detailed prison and desert scenes combine with the classic fugitive plot, the added appeal of children, and a satisfying romantic relationship to produce an intense romance that is more complex than the simple captor/captive tale one might expect. Although the heroine is initially too na ve and idealistic, both she and the hero are immensely appealing, and readers will be quickly drawn into this well-written, engrossing story. Novak (A Baby of Her Own) lives in Citrus Heights, CA. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460302064
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/17/2012
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Sales rank: 147,911
  • File size: 559 KB

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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Read an Excerpt

Taking the Heat

By Brenda Novak

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Brenda Novak
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373835701

Chapter One

"Don't worry, Mr. Tucker, it's almost over now."

Randall Tucker sat next to his attorney in the courtroom, feeling utterly alone, even though the gallery behind him was packed to overflowing. He prayed to God she was right. In all his thirty-two years he'd never experienced anything so confusing, so terrifying or so painful.

"They can't convict you without a body," she said, repeating what she'd told him the moment he hired her. "When the jury gets back, you'll see."

When the jury gets back ...

They were sure taking a long time. They'd been deliberating all day, and every minute seemed like an eternity.

Regardless, it'll end well. They won't put an innocent man away. Truth and justice will prevail.

"I never touched her," he said, but he'd been saying that ever since his wife had gone missing, and it hadn't made any difference before.

His attorney smiled confidently. "You'll be home with your son in a few hours."

He might go home, but their lives would never be the same. Andrea wouldn't be there. They'd lost his wife, Landon's mother, and there'd be big adjustments to make -

The door opened and fear clutched at Tucker's throat as the jury filed into the courtroom and resumed their seats. Their foreman, a tall, balding man with a dark mustache, remained standing.

"Have you reached a verdict?" the judge asked.

"Yes, Your Honor."

"Will you read the verdict, please?"

The man glanced nervously around the room, then looked down at the paper in his hand. "We the jury find the defendant, Randall C. Tucker -" he cleared his throat and peered at the judge, who nodded for him to continue "- guilty of the crime of murder in the first degree."

Guilty? The word hit Tucker like a crowbar to the gut, momentarily stunning him. Numbly, he tried to raise his hand to rub away the pain, but it was no good. His chest had constricted so tightly he couldn't breathe, couldn't move.

"But I'm innocent," he said, or maybe he only thought it. Someone was screaming inside his head, drowning out the chaos that erupted around him, drowning out his lawyer's soft, concerned words, blocking everything but the memory of his promise to Landon: I'm not going anywhere, buddy. I won't leave you, I promise.

And then the judge, his voice mere background noise until that moment, said something about reconvening for sentencing. Randall was pushed and prodded from the room. He spent the next few days in numb incredulity, caught in a nightmare he couldn't escape.

When he faced the white-haired Judge Forester again, the subtle contempt Tucker had sensed during the actual trial was more apparent. Forester said it was a sad commentary on the state of society that such a successful man as Randall would murder his wife in cold blood. He asked Randall to tell authorities where he'd hidden the body so Andrea's friends and family could receive some sense of closure. And he added his regret that the death penalty wasn't an option in this particular case. Then he said the words that echoed through Randall's soul.

"I hereby sentence the defendant, Randall C. Tucker, to prison for the rest of his natural life."

Oh, God, a fight!

Gabrielle Hadley quickly turned off the bathroom faucet and sought a paper towel to dry her soapy hands as hoots and hollers resounded outside. What had started as a few distinct shouts was quickly growing into a loud roar that bounced off the prison's cinderblock walls. It was a sound she knew, a sound she feared.

"Not again," she moaned. "This is only my third day!"

Her heart in her throat, she tossed the wadded paper into the wastebasket and left the small corner rest room in the guards' station. Lunch break or no, she had to get out there and back up the other officers. And she'd probably have to wield her baton, as well, even though the thought of actually cracking it against someone's skull still turned her stomach.

"Have you radioed for the Designated Armed Response Team?" she asked Eckland as she dashed by him. The only other officer in the small caged station outside the bathroom, he didn't answer. But she was in such a hurry to get inside the cell block, she scarcely noticed. "Open the door."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "I don't think -"

"What are you waiting for?" she cried. Through the metals bars that separated her from the inmates and their cells, she could see a small group of jumpsuit-clad men circling something or someone in the cement-floored common area. Feverish cries rang out from those who watched, along with a chorus of support from the men still locked in three stories of old-style cells above. Yet she could hear the thud of fist on bone, a grunt of pain and a few muttered curses.


Excerpted from Taking the Heat by Brenda Novak Copyright © 2003 by Brenda Novak
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2014


    J: That was really good!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 20, 2011


    This was not a believable story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2003

    A great read

    Gabrielle and her daughter Allie are reloacating to Florence Arizona and Gabrielle will be working as a prison guard for an all male prison so that she can support herself and her daughter.She is also hoping to meet up with the mother that gave her up.While she is working at the prison she is harassed by the other guards and finds herself attracted to an inmate Randall Tucker who is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and when they are in an accident in which Randall Tucker excapes Gabriel takes off after him.This was wonderfully writen and by far one of the best I have read for a contemporary line.Can't wait for her next book.Brenda Novak out did herself with this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2003

    Watch out Nora Roberts!

    I have been a huge Nora Roberts fan for years. Brenda Novak, you are definitely in her league! I have read all but one of her books and have loved them!! Novak is a GREAT writer and she's got me hooked. Can't wait for her next book. I highly recommend this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2002

    Wonderful read!

    Few women are prison guards in a male prison, but that is the best career choice open to Gabrielle Hadley when she moves to Florence, Arizona in search of her birth mother. Daily she faces grueling work, where she is harrassed and scorned by both inmates and coworkers. Amidst the ugliness, she finds herself drawn to one of the prisoners, one who stands out as unusual, Randall Tucker, convicted wife killer. Tucker is serving time for a crime of which he is innocent, so when he has the chance to escape during a transfer, he does. Gabrielle goes after him, out of a mixture of concern and a feeling of responsibility. Yet, when she finds him, they become reluctant allies, drawn together by the necessity of survival, and the heat between them that is hotter than the surrounding desert. Even when Tucker ties her up and abandons her, Gabrielle still believes in him, and is willing to risk everything to save him so his quest to prove his innocence and be reunited with his child will go forward. ***** A vivid painting of an ugly world provides an intense backdrop for this compelling story. Few women would have the grit to handle what Gabrielle faces. Tucker is the kind of man we all yearn for; tough, yet still loving. Both do what they must without flinching. Despite the harshness portrayed in the prison and in the wild, there are heartwarming moments of family that lighten the mood. You have not read many books like this one. ***** REVIEWER: AMANDA KILLGORE

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    wonderful romantic Fugitive

    Gabrielle Hadley relocates with her baby Allie to Florence, Arizona to start work as a prison guard at the state facility. She also hopes to find closure by meeting her biological mother who lives nearby and left her for adoption when Gabrielle was an infant. At the prison, Gabrielle intercedes in a fight between convicted wife killer Randall Tucker and four other convicts that was sanctioned by her superior. Her whistleblowing to the warden leads to Randall¿s transfer to the Alta Vista facility and the ostracizing of Gabrielle. Guard Eckland and Gabrielle escort Tucker, but the car crashes. Gabrielle¿s actions enable Tucker to escape into the desert. She follows. As he tries to find evidence that he never killed his wife so he can regain custody of their son, he receives help from Gabrielle. Soon they fall in love, but the state wants him behind bars and will do whatever it takes to insure that occurs rather quickly. This novel is Richard Kimble inside a romance. The story line is very exciting though readers will doubt that a prisoner with a broken hand even caused by the actions of the guards would not receive medical treatment. Still, fans will relish the non-stop action as Randall aided by a person who should be his enemy not his beloved struggles to prove the state convicted the wrong person. Brenda Novak provides a wonderful romantic Fugitive. Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 19, 2012

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    Posted April 11, 2012

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