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Publication Date: March 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction/ 20th Century/ Romance
The Great Depression and Dust Bowl have destroyed Melinda’s home, her community, and her family, leaving her alone in a world of aimless refugees. Just when she thinks there’s nothing else left in life to fight for, a stranger seeks shelter in her schoolhouse on the most violent storm of the decade. Jake is running from the memories of another life, using his assignment with the National Relief Administration to keep him distracted from the realities of anti-Semitism in 1930s America. As he documents the life of migrants on the road to a better life in California, and makes Melinda his focus, the horizon brightens. Together, Melinda and Jake start to piece their lives back together. But when they push against the odds, betrayal and trauma threaten to separate them forever. Will they find each other again, or are they lost to the violence of migrant camps and their own desperation? From the author of All This Time, comes the debut historical romance, The Search: A Dust Bowl Love Story. Velez weaves a romantic thriller into a classic American tale about love, loss, and redemption.
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…Just as I headed towards my desk, the front door burst open, slamming against the wall. A stranger stood in the doorway, tall and over six feet. His coal-black hair was covered in dust. Or what I thought might be coal-black hair was covered in dust. He was head to toe, nearly invisible underneath the soot. I don’t know if I could have recognized him even if I knew who he was.
“Ma’am—” He bent over and wheezed, grasping at any bit of clean air he could find. “Ma’am,” he repeated and fell against one of the desks. I climbed over his large frame and pushed hard against the raging wind to shut and latch the door again. I had to drop all the coats and lunch pails. “Lord have mercy!” I couldn’t help screaming at the sight of him.
“Help,” he pleaded, reaching a filthy hand up to me.
If he weren’t dressed in decent wool trousers and a leather jacket, I would have thought him possibly a hobo off the Santa Fe line that crisscrossed through these parts twice a week. But he had to be some sort of salesman or something. I didn’t have the time to study him further or assess his peculiar image on the floor of my schoolhouse.
“Just a minute,” I said, scooping the jackets and pails back up and rushing them into the supply closet, where I hastily dealt them out. I didn’t know who this man was, so I wouldn’t let him inside our storm shelter, but I wouldn’t let him die out there in the classroom on my watch either.
I grabbed one of the tin mugs I kept in the closet for coffee, back when we still had enough fuel to heat the woodstove. It had once been my favorite early morning activity. I would heat the percolator and pour myself a cup of hot, musky coffee before the students arrived. But even coffee was a dream these days. The Depression and the Dust Bowl had robbed us of nearly everything. For some of us, even our lives. I feared this was where we might all be headed right now, and my one consolation was that, at least, the children were with someone who loved them as much as their desperate mothers did. And I knew their mothers were all thinking this very same thing now, hiding in closets and bathrooms in their homes, far from their babies—the only thing they had left in the world.
I gave the man a drink of water, which he gulped down like a hungry animal. “More, please?” “Okay, but just one cup more. I need the rest for the children. We don’t know how long we’ll be hunkered down in here.” The storm howled like a banshee as it scraped against the red clay earth of Oklahoma. This man was a stranger. I didn’t want him too close to the children.
About the Author
Tiffani Velez has been a freelance writer since 1996. Her work has appeared in The Feminine Collective, Toe Good Poetry, Yahoo! News, and many more places. Her novels have been featured in the Annual Conference of Jewish Librarians, The New York Book Festival, and The Big Thrill Magazine and all have been bestsellers in their Amazon categories. The Search is her fifth book and fourth novel. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.
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