Gabrielle Hadley, new prison guard in a detention center in Arizona, is horrified to come across what seems to be a fight organized for the entertainment of the rest of the prison guards. After breaking up the fight, Gabrielle realizes that she’s up against a crooked guard who just happens to be the warden’s nephew. But she is determined to do what’s right, and even goes to complain to the warden. Meanwhile, the prisoner she saved from a severe beating is going to be transferred, and the warden names her to accompany him.
Gabrielle learns that the prisoner is a man who murdered his wife. Never mind that the body was never found and he always claimed innocence - he was sentenced to life in prison and his son was put in foster care. Now Randall Tucker is a bitter man.
During the transport, the truck crashes and Randall takes off across the desert. Feeling guilty, (she undid his handcuffs) Gabrielle sets off in pursuit. In the blistering Arizona desert, Gabrielle nearly dies of heat and exposure. But Randall saves her. Lost in the desert, they manage to survive thanks to their combined resourcefulness.
Slowly, they get to know each other, although Gabrielle doesn’t trust Randall a bit at first. (Who would?) But as events unfold, she sees Randall in a different light, and finally decides to help him.
This was a terrific book. I thought that the characters were extremely well drawn and complex. Gabrielle is divorced, and her ex-husband is trying desperately to win her back. There is also a sub-plot where Gabrielle searches for and finds her real mother. 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.