Where did you get the book? Netgalley ARC
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: Out now
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 Lidia—a rare woman—and 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.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
When bioengineered crops mutate and turn dangerous that causes world-wide hunger and riots. Chaos ensues with the collapse of civilised society whilst a group of survivors hold up at a hospital waiting for an evacuation to a safer outpost. In the midst of this mayhem, Dr Lidia Sullivan patches up Derek Covington, a new recruit for the National Guard, who ends up staying with her for 2 weeks. Both Lidia and Derek are drawn together emotionally and they bond with each other while the world they know implodes around them. They are soon separated when the evacuations to a safer military post occurs, but ten years later they are reunited; both changed in trying to survive in this new world.
This is a novella that has a great premise along with rich world-building and a gritty post apocalyptic tone which feels very realistic. I enjoyed the portrayal of the characters especially in contrast to how much they changed in the ten year period, especially Derek. He was young and a bit inexperienced when he first encountered Lidia who is a bit older than he was. But in the 2nd half of the novella he is this harder edged character that is almost un-recognisable due to his experiences in surviving in a harsh world and that felt very realistic. And while I liked Lidia’s practicality and compassion, she didn’t change as much although she fared much better in that ten year absence.
I wished the depiction of the romance was stronger because I felt that it was weak because not a lot of time was spent in establishing the romance, and a lot of that was glossed over in the beginning. I also didn’t believe they would hold a flame for each other for those ten years and I think this is the main flaw of the book, because it was so short. Although when they did get together, again it was too quick for me to be satisfactory, but I did like the tension they did generate together.
There was a lot of good ideas with the concept and Ella Drake really captured the gritty and stark atmosphere in a realistic and engrossing way. There is no real paranormal elements which was pretty refreshing since so many post apocalyptic books have zombies/vamps or other paranormal beings on the rampage. But I wished a lot more time was expanded on exploring this world because I hungered for more.
Overall, this should have been a much longer story because I think the story and characters had great promise and I think the short length was a bit of a disservice for this book. While this is a bit too fast paced that glosses over a lot of detail and nuance, especially for the romance, the stark tone makes up for it – although for me if this was a longer story it would have been higher-rated.
I give Desert Blade a C