In the post-apocalyptic Midwest, now a ravaged dust bowl, former guardsman Derek Covington must find help for a sick boy. With nothing but memories of all he lost, Derek crosses the desert alone in search of the doctor who saved his own life ten years ago. Drifter gangs who loot and pillage don't dare come near, for Derek has a formidable weapon: a prosthetic arm with a deadly blade.
For a decade, Dr. Lidia Sullivan has fantasized about the handsome guardsman who'd been in her care. And now she can't deny his dangerous request. But as they make the treacherous journey back to Old St. Louis, they must contend with much more than fierce desert winds and their unthinkable attraction. A fearless gang has spotted Lidiaa rare womanand will fight Derek to the death to get her. And though he risks his life to save her for the sake of the child who needs her, she fears there's one thing Derek will never risk: his heart.
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Derek Covington ducked beneath the Molotov cocktail slicing through the air. It broke, spreading ethanol and fire across a Chicago storefront. The swoosh of heat and cloying sweet fuel burned his throat. He dodged across the street, empty except for the ever-present vines growing in cracks, covered in fungus, crinkling brown and dead.
Black smoke disguising them, looters whooped and swung bats at the windows. The crack and clink of glass faded in the background. Keeping low, he ran for all he was worth. As a Guardsman, he should help the unit called to handle this latest violent outbreak, but he couldn't. The rioting around his old place had killed hundreds.
He had to reach Hester.
When the riots started and the phones went out, he'd walked out of the barracks and hitched on an Aggie train. A week through land covered with dying vines from boot camp to here. With nobody around to check on her, his foster mother could be dead already.
He skidded around a corner and onto a street straight from a war zone. The summer heat brought the stench of death, blood and desperation.
The place looked the same. Rows of townhouses stacked together. Hester's florescent purple door swung ajar. He vaulted over the three steps and into the dark, musty-smelling living room. "Hester. You here?"
"That you, Derek?" Shuffling through the door, his plump gray-haired foster mother smiled at him and tugged closed her yellow terrycloth robe. "I was just making breakfast. Come on in and have a cup of coffee while I scramble up some eggs. Just how you like 'em."
Hiding his knee-weakening relief, he followed her into the four-room railroad-style townhouse. He went straight for the cupboard to pull down two plates, the fragrance of coffee making his mouth water. "I haven't eaten much the past few days."
"You best be taking care of yourself. Sit down, sit down. I don't need you gettin' in my way." She motioned him to the small round table with only two chairs. "What? You have a break from basic training already?"
"Haven't you seen the news? They ordered the evacuation of Georgia...and Tennessee. It's spread up here, too. I came to get you out." He shifted in his chair and the weight of it came down all at once. Leaning forward, his elbows on the table, he buried his face in his hands. "I just need to sit for a few minutes. Then we have to go."
She ran her arthritic, gnarled hands through his hair. "Where'm I goin' to? So the Aggies about ruined everything." Aggies, what people called the scientists and politicians who started this all with their plans to feed everyone with special crops. "There's no place for someone like me, used up and on her way out." She patted his shoulder when his head jerked toward her. "No. It's true. With the world dyin', the future's for the young, for the able-bodied to work at saving what's left. Don't cry, son."
Hester handed him a tissue from her pocket and went to the refrigerator. She peered inside. "I forgot. Haven't had eggs in some time."
Shaking her head, she clucked in the back of her throat. "Shouldn't've forgotten that."
"Doesn't matter, Hester. Whatever you got, we'll make do. Everything else will just go to waste."
"Waste not, want not. Here." Serving him a mishmash of food from her Southern roots and her newfound community in Chicago, she put a plate with cold hushpuppies and pickled green beans in front of him. "I still got plenty of cornmeal. It's still cheap as dirt. Those puppies won't taste the same, though. Don't have all the stuff to make 'em. Not much left in the cupboard exceptin' those beans we put away a few years back."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Derek desperately needs a doctor to take home to his settlement to help a boy he's taken under his wing, the only place in this post-apocalyptic wasteland that he knows has a doctor in the army populated strong hold. But seeing Lidia again, he can't help his feelings return from ten years ago, she's still as gorgeous as she was then, still as kind... but more pigheaded. He'll do anything to get her to his settlement, and to keep her there. Lidia has been dreaming of Derek the past ten years, the soldier she patched up with a new experimental weaponized arm, one that she has hoped has given him fair advantage against the looters and drifters running free reign on the desert. Seeing Derek again wreaks havoc on her heart, but she can't let him get the best of her - but there's not much a girl can do when kidnapped to take through perilous terrain, drifter infested deserts and into the darkness of the night with a man who makes his desire for her known. I enjoyed this! It was a short story that was all about love, but had yummy side dishes of a world collapsing and people living in settlements in the desert America had become. Ella Drake writes an excellent story with romance in a post-apocalyptic world, her writing is fast pace, adventurous and her characters very believable, Desert Blade was a joy to read! I liked the two part nature of the story, first you got to know Derek and Lidia, while she nursed him back to the books of the living after he nearly died trying to save his foster mother from looters. Lidia and her colleague fix him up with a weaponized prosthetic arm, with a wicked retractable blade. And then they get separated and don't meet until 10 years later... And boy when they do meet! Yes the society is all most completely collapsed, food is the hardest thing to come across and drifters rob you and kill you every chance you give them - but still it seem love's not dead. I love the strong emotions of possession Derek has for his Doc, he doesn't dance around or flirt or court, he damn right goes after what he wants. And that is definitely sexy! I loved the side Lidia brought to the story, her desire to help, heal and make the community she is in better. She's the kind doctor with a strong streak, but not a caricature of the profession, Drake has managed to create in Lidia a truly kind character, who can't help but respond to Derek's vulgar advances (which were hot, btw!) and give him her loyalty even if they haven't seen each other in ten years.
The book was good....but i definitely think it could have been better and twice as long...the book felt like the outline for a full length novel...and the ending left you pissed there wasnt more...there could have been 4 or 5 more chapters added atleast!