May 22, 2017

Shelley Loved: Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

Series: Laura Elliston 1
Format: Kindle E-Book | 432 pages
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Redhook
Source: Amazon
Genre: Historical | Westerns

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this fast-paced historical debut.

When Dr. Catherine Bennett is wrongfully accused of murder, she knows her fate likely lies with a noose unless she can disappear. Fleeing with a bounty on her head, she escapes with her maid to the uncharted territories of Colorado to build a new life with a new name. Although the story of the murderess in New York is common gossip, Catherine's false identity serves her well as she fills in as a temporary army doctor. But in a land unknown, so large and yet so small, a female doctor can only hide for so long.

SAWBONES is the first installment in author Melissa Lenhardt's Laura Elliston trilogy. This is a series that is set in 1871 and it begins in NYC where Dr. Catherine Bennett has struggled for years to gain a foothold in a male dominated world. She's fought tooth and nail and has done things that no male would ever dream of doing. After being attacked by an unknown assailant, Catherine learns from her best friend James that she is being accused of killing one of her patients.

James, who may be her only friend outside of her maid, and a madam at a whore house, suggests strongly that she leave NYC, which she does alongside her maid Maureen O'Reilly. As Catherine & Maureen make their way to Texas, she learns that the west is desperate for doctors and that there is a $500 reward for her capture hanging over her head. Catherine, now Laura Elliston, joins a wagon train heading for Colorado, and that, my friends, is where things get really dicey, really ugly, and especially dark.

If you go into SAWBONES thinking that this is just another Historical Romance set in a Western setting, let me clear that up quickly. SAWBONES is a story fraught with brutality, hostile environments, bigotry, racism, & sexism. As Catherine's wagon train is attacked, the author holds back nothing. She puts her heroine into a situation where she may not survive, and if she does, she will be showing scars for years to come. With Laura being the only survivor, remorse, guilt, and what we in the modern era call PTSD, grab hold. 

As a reader who loves strong heroines, yet are not afraid of showing any emotions, Laura is a wonderful character. As SAWBONES is narrated in the first person, you get a deeper understanding as to who Catherine/Laura really is. She's the daughter of a surgeon, she served in the Civil War alongside her father, and the fact that she pretended to be a male in the War in order to help as many as she could, just proves what lengths she would go through in order to be successful in her goals. Catherine has seen more than her share of darkness where only a few women dare tread. She even does surgery in the middle of a major storm in order to save a man who will become important to her in the long run. A man whom she may have encountered once before during the War. 

Is Catherine on the arrogant side? Yes. Does she make ill-advised mistakes? Yes. But, I have no issue with her arrogance, I have no issue with her willfulness, or her intelligence when it comes to new modern medical advancements or the use of Louis Pasteur's methods of sterilization. This isn't a black or white world, this is a realistic portrayal of the West during the late 19th century. There are even historical characters like General Sherman, who, if you live in the South, you know very well.

Sherman's participation in SAWBONES is historically accurate. He actually was in Texas during 1871. The hero of this story, as well as Laura's romantic partner, is Captain William Kindle. Kindle is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served during the Civil War. Kindle, who calls Fort Richardson, Texas his base of operations, finds himself having to be saved after encountering a Comanche raid on Laura's wagon train. As their relationship grows, so does the danger to Laura.

If you are looking for historical women who actually served during the War, look no further than Clara Barton, who eventually organized the American Red Cross. Another fact, more than 400 women disguised themselves as men and fought on both sides. I have already finished reading this entire trilogy over the course of 2 days. Remarkable considering the rest of my reviews will be posted, and scheduled by B in the days to come. Thank you for stopping by, and reading my reviews. It makes my heart flutter with happiness to see all the comments that are left by you.


“I’ll have some fresh ones on the morrow.”
I pulled on my gloves and donned a slouch hat. “I do not know when I will be back.”
“No, no. O’ course. Part of the job, idin’t? Not knowin’ where you’ll be, what you’ll be doin’. Hard on a woman.”
“No harder than on a man, I assure you.”
“O’ course.” He paused. “It’s jus’, my costs don’t change if you don’t show, you see.”
I stared at him beneath the brim of my hat. “I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who pays for your services.”
“No.” He drawled the word out into three syllables while his small, calculating eyes appraised me. “But you pay the best.”
Not willingly.
The resurrection man was short, with a broad chest and dirty muscular arms no amount of scrubbing could clean. If his other clients knew he allowed me, a woman, use of his services, they would find another man to do their dirty work. It would be easy enough. Resurrection men were thick on the ground in 1871. If you knew where to look. But, Jonasz Golik was the only one with a dissection room for my use, a female doctor who overpaid for the privilege.
I buttoned my cloak at the neck. “How much?” 
“That is absurd.”
“Is it? What’ud your fancy patients in Washington Square think o’ your activities, Dr. Bennett?”
They should be thankful I was constantly learning, staying abreast of new discoveries in anatomy and medical science, practicing difficult surgeries on corpses instead of taking risks with their own lives. The voices of the few that might take this generous view of my nocturnal activities would be drowned out by the outrage of my crime, by the disgust at a woman carving up naked bodies—of men—in the dark. It was unnatural, an affront to everything feminine and fine. My male colleagues, though participating in the same activities, would be the loudest critics. They would ruin my reputation and practice with unalloyed glee. Every respectable door would close to me. I shoved all the money I had into Golik’s hand.
“How did you learn my name?”
His grin widened as he counted the money, which was more than double his fee. “I keep my ears open. There ain’t many of you, are there?”
“No. There are not.”

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  1. She still took her maid with her? Ha, ok

  2. I'm not big on Westerns but this one sounds really good. I do love a strong heroine. Great review!

  3. When I saw this one originally I was like this won't be for me. I'm so wrong this sounds great!

  4. Oh I remember seeing this and thinking it looked good.

  5. I don't usually read Westerns but dang this story sounds pretty good. I do know General Sherman quite well since my grandpa's last name was Sherman and I grew up being told he was an ancestor which after looking into his ancestry, I highly doubt. lol My brother is still trying to make that one stick though. lol

  6. This series seems to be really incredible and historical.Western stories always attract people especially the ones during the World Wars.I hope it would be more interesting.thanks for sharing it with us.keep posting good post.

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