smlA Laura Elliston Novel #1
Melissa Lenhardt
Red Hook Book Apr 2017
Kindle ed, 421 pages, also in paperback and Audible
Genre(s) Historical Romance
Source Author’s rep

Other books in this series: #2 Blood Oath, #3 Badlands

Wrongfully accused of murder, Dr. Catherine Bennett is destined to hang… unless she can disappear.

With the untamed territory of Colorado as her most likely refuge, she packs her physician’s kit and heads West. But even with a new life and name, a female doctor with a bounty on her head can hide for only so long.

About the Author:
mlMelissa Lenhardt is the author of the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
At Antietam, she’s dressed as a male orderly and assisting her father in the medical tents. An officer with his face brutally sliced open listens to her exhausted chatter while she stitches his face for him since no doctors were available. Nine years later, she meets a man with a facial scar on a different sort of battlefield. He remembers her talk about Aunt Emily and her embroidery lessons. Their recognition is instantaneous. Their rapport is not. But again she is called upon to use her medical skills to save his life as she races to care for him ahead of a coming storm.

That is the first 20% of the book. Captain Kindle spends the next 30% of the book recuperating at the fort under her care while she goes about causing trouble just being herself and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She tries to clean up the place and runs into dishonest people right and left. She causes ruffled feathers with the women of the fort because she’s an attractive woman and she’s interacting with the men, especially with Captain Kindle. She crosses the officer-in-charge’s sister, Harriet MacKenzie, but in the end, they understand each other very well and find common cause.

When Catherine/Laura is kidnapped by a man bent on vengeance, the Captain rises from his sick bed to go after her and save her life. This brings the Army down on them with all its authority. He has deserted his post without authority to do so, and the Army doesn’t take desertion lightly. Even when your post is a sick bed and love is involved.

I really liked this book, but it did have its problems. The situation at the fort was really strange and I would have liked it explained better so that I could have “seen” it better. I felt like I was bumbling around half blind most of the time. I know description isn’t popular these days, but a bit more of it would have helped me. It was frustrating, and it didn’t add to the story for me. Believe me, Laura had enough frustration of her own to deal with.

I felt the characters were well written. They had some great personalities. The people in the wagon train were well-done, especially Catherine’s companion. Harriet MacKenzie was wonderful with her presentation of the typical spinster type and her disapproval of Laura, particularly the way things worked out later on. The wagon train portion was richly portrayed, but the fort part was rather sparse. More details so that it could have been a clearer picture would have helped.

But, like all good romances, it has its HEA. I definitely enjoyed this book. The story of a historical feminist is fun! If I get a chance, I’ll certainly try another in this series. I suggest you try this one and see how it fits onto your reading shelf.

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