Monday, July 26, 2010

White Heat by Brenda Novak

It's fascinating to read all of the novels that view Arizona as a hotbed of cults.  Brenda Novak isn't the first one to set a novel in Arizona, but her romantic suspense novel, White Heat, beautifully captures the climate and environment, the heat of the Arizona desert.  And, it should, since Novak lived here in Arizona at one time.  Once you've read her latest book, you'll know the parched conditions here.  And, you'll understand why cults can thrive in that environment, fueled by desperate people.

Nate Ferrentino and Rachel Jessop are employees of a private security company called Department 6, hired to infiltrate a religious cult in Paradise, Arizona.  Ethan Wycliff, a charismatic Cornell graduate is the leader of the Church of the Covenant.  He founded a religious group, baptizes and brands his followers.  But, his father is worried about the group because as a precocious teen, Wycliff corresponded with Charles Manson.  And, by the time Department 6 took the case, one woman had fled the group, after having been stoned, and a teenage girl had disappeared.

Nate and Rachel are to infiltrate the group, posing as a young married couple.  But, they're bringing baggage with them that may interfere with their work.  Rachel grew up in a religious cult, with a father who had complete control over her until she was expelled from the group at seventeen.  She's a little naive, but, at one time, thinking Nate was interested in her, showed up at his home and seduced him.  Neither of them were ready for that, and their testy relationship could prove to be a problem.  But, they have a job to do, even if it means pretending to be husband and wife.  There job is to find the truth, and prevent people from dying in Paradise.

Novak examines the attraction of a cult, and a charismatic leader, and shows the needy people who succumb to a cult's appeal.  And, for those of us familiar with Arizona groups, it's interesting that Rachel's last name is Jessop, a common name in Warren Jeffs' FLDS.  But, White Heat is still a romantic suspense novel, not a study of cults.  And, Novak's readers will find the heat between the two main characters almost as hot as that in the Arizona desert.

Check back tomorrow, when Brenda Novak answers interview questions.

Brenda Novak's website is

White Heat by Brenda Novak.  Mira, ©2010. ISBN 9780778327950 (paperback), 442p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


kathy d. said...

This looks intriguing. Cults are an interesting topic, especially those with members named "Jessop," but as you said, Lesa, it's not a cult expose, but romantic suspense.

I don't think I've ever read that genre before, but it may be time.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I always enjoy a good story about cults! :) It's true--they're just interesting to me. Thanks for the recommendation.

Lesa said...

Ah, a book that appeals to you, kathy and Elizabeth, because it isn't as violent as some of the ones I dealt with this week. And, I know you've both expressed an interest in cults. This one is also a paperback, so if it's not in your local library, it's affordable as well.

dining tables said...

It is a very intriguing book but I must say. It is an amazing book to read. I have order one copy and I am so excited to read it.

Lesa said...

I hope you enjoy White Heat, dining tables. Let us know what you thought afterwards.