White Heat by Brenda Novak

White Heat (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #1)

Back of the book: A dangerous cult has recently taken over the desert ghost town of Paradise, Arizona.  Members worship at the feet – and in the bed – of its charismatic leader, Ethan Wycliff, and obey his orders blindly.  They’ve already tried to murder one woman and they’re implicated in the disappearance of another.

Nate Ferrentino, who works for private security contractor Department 6, has been assigned to infiltrate this group.  It’s a challenge he welcomes – until he learns that colleague Rachel Jessop will be going undercover with him.  Thanks to their shared history, he’d much rather go alone…

The problem is, only married couples can participate in cult rituals.  So, like it or not – and they don’t – Rachel and Nate must pretend to be husband and wife.  There’s no choice.  Because if Wycliff isn’t exposed, if he isn’t stopped, more people will die. And Rachel might be one of them.


I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense novels and I’ve never read one by Brenda Novak but after reading White Heat I’ll be looking for more of her books.  I really enjoyed the main characters. Rachel and Nate wish they could forget the embarrassing event that took place several months earlier but they must maintain a professional attitude in an uncomfortable situation.  And talk about uncomfortable – everything from the ride to the location, the grimy trailer where they stay until going to the commune, and then the commune itself.  Novak brings the hot and dry Arizona setting alive.

The pace was great.  The suspense of whether or not Rachel and Nate would be successful in their mission had me quickly turning the pages.  That was really the best part for me because although it was easy to predict what would happen, I just wasn’t sure about how.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Novak’s bad guys were creepy bad.    The Manson-like cult leader and his number one henchman were pretty scary.   I didn’t enjoy reading about the cult rituals. Even the main characters wished they weren’t on this mission – they’d rather have been on a drug bust or any other case.  Novak did a good job developing the supporting characters giving enough detail to explain why they might be involved in a cult.  All in all, I liked the novel even though I didn’t enjoy the cult topic.

White Heat is the first in a series.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book – Body Heat.  Recommended to fans of Romantic Suspense and Brenda Novak.

Review copy from MIRA Books

10 thoughts on “White Heat by Brenda Novak

    • Kristin, I read your review (great review, by the way). I can’t believe how fast I read White Heat. I’d planned to read it in 3-4 days but it took only 2 because I couldn’t put it down! Kind of strange because, like I said in the review, I didn’t like the cult aspect but I loved finding out how Rachel and Nate accomplished their goal. Good read!


  1. I don’t often read romance suspense. It usually murder romance, for me, but your review is definitely a book reading one. Thanks.


  2. I don’t think I’ve ever read romantic suspense, but you sure have made this book sound interesting. It doesn’t sound like the romance is a big part of the book.


  3. I haven’t read this author either but I love the way you talk about it being a page-turner!! That does it for me every time regardless of genre!


  4. I haven’t read this one but am hosting a giveaway in a few days for it. I’ve read Brenda Novak before and loved her books. They can keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s great when you find a new to you author and you really like their work. Fantastic review, Mary!


  5. I’ve heard of Novak but not read anything by her. This one sounds great. I always like reading about cults – they fascinate me and terrify me at the same time.


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