National Parks Ranger Jo Lockwood is often alone in the wilderness, and she likes it that way – until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered.
Detective Nick Matheson’s new posting to the north-west of New South Wales is supposed to be an uneventful return to normal duties and a normal life. He knows organised crime from the inside out and suspects that the victim in the camping ground is not an isolated murder.
Jo is committed to helping the investigation but she has seen the killer’s face and now she’s at risk. Nick’s determined to protect her but as the body count starts mounting, his past and present collide, threatening the people he cares about most.
Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by hunters who can’t afford to fail, Nick and Jo will need to trust each other completely, and use all their skills and knowledge in order to survive.
And here is Holly's review:
After I read Dead Heat, I had to look up which RITA category it was in, because in the hands of a different publisher, this would be labelled suspense, not romantic suspense. I had no trouble believing that Jo and Nick were attracted to and falling for each other, and I enjoyed reading it unfold, but the suspense is the core of the story. The developing relationship is on the sidelines and due to their circumstances, it’s clear they’d like to see where it goes but don’t know if that will happen.
The writing and suspense are quite good. The story moves along swiftly. There’s one character that seems off right away and it’s resolved within chapters. There is a lot going on but the pace gives you time to figure it out; though between the cops, the National Parks Rangers, and the bad guys, sometimes I had trouble keeping track of names.
I liked the development of the main characters, Jo and Nick. Both are fairly self contained due to past events and while the book talks about the events, it’s not like they are an albatross to them moving forward. They’re both dealing and getting on with what life has dealt them and there’s no magical power of love cure that will help them conquer all. They recognize their attraction at the start and take cautious steps towards each other. I liked that intensity of the situation didn't also make their relationship really intense really quickly. I found the development to be more believable than other romantic suspense novels I've read because they weren't desperate to act on their attraction to each other while people were shooting at them.
I also really liked the setting of this book, which is in northwest New South Wales, Australia, and what I learned about the culture, parks, wildlife, and law enforcement in that area. I want to make a crack about dingoes now but you’re going to have to read the book for one. The remote setting poses many challenges that add to the suspense because there’s no easy escape in certain situations, and it also prevents options for protecting Jo after it’s clear she’s become a target that the criminals are determined to eliminate.
One minor quibble: one of the criminals is said to be from a South American cartel family. Then it’s later discovered he is Mexican and mentions the violence and drug wars in Mexico and “other parts of South America”. Having been next to the Mexican border earlier this week, I can assure you, it's still in North America. Shortly thereafter, another character pronounces a word “the Spanish way” and Nick decides he’s probably Mexican. Dude, you are a detective, seriously? Then for the rest of the book that character is referred to as the Mexican. It felt sloppy to me. There’s also an element at the end that felt too neatly tied up to be plausible.
Note: For most regions, Dead Heat is likely only available in e-book format. Dead Heat isn’t out in print from Hachette UK until the end of November 2013, so UK, European and Canadian readers should be able to order it then. It looks like only Hachette Australia has it in print currently, so everyone outside of Australia and possibly NZ may be out of luck for now unless you like shipping charges. It’s disappointing because she’s a solid writer. Hopefully a US publisher will pick up the print rights at some point and they won’t change any of the Australian slang or details. I had to google a few things (cheese and bacon scrolls, yum!)