Book Impressions: Sawbones/Laura Elliston Trilogy by Melissa Lenhardt

Let me tell you how much I love this trilogy by Melissa Lenhardt: Sawbones, Blood Oath (Sawbones), and Badlands (Sawbones).

First of all, what’s not to love? This trilogy can be categorized as historical romance western, but wait, there’s more! The Sawbones trilogy has one amazing, badass female lead, and her adventures from the beginning of Sawbones to the end of Badlands will take your breath away, quicken your pulse, turn your stomach, make you gnash your teeth at the total injustice of it all, and marvel at our girl’s grit and ability to land on her feet (albeit not unscathed). And then there’s the matter of William Kindle. But I’ll let you find out about him for yourself.

Why haven’t I mentioned this female character’s name? Good question. Because she has three names throughout the trilogy. That’s what happens when you’re running from a murder charge and have to change your identity at every turn. Catherine Bennett, Laura Elliston, and Helen Graham are one in the same, but trust me, it’s not confusing. How it the world does Lenhardt pull this off? I don’t know. But she does. Somehow. And beautifully, I might add.

Word of caution: Anything and everything goes in this trilogy. All three books are a Wild West stampede, creating a path of death, destruction, heartache, and mayhem. Be prepared to be shocked every time you turn the page.

On the flip side, the overall story is truly a work of art (can you tell I’m impressed?). The characters (even the minor ones) are well developed and absolutely engaging. You will fall in love with and cheer for our two fleeing fugitives (the Murderess and the Major). I know I did.

Take a look at my impression (from my Goodreads) of each book below (click on the book images if your interest has been piqued):

Sawbones is definitely not for the faint of heart. This series has a strong, flawed, and amazing heroine: Catherine Bennett, aka Laura Elliston. During the risky Wild West days, a woman’s life is constantly in danger. When Catherine becomes Laura and flees to the West to avoid a phony murder charge, she encounters danger (and love) beyond her wildest imagination. Being a doctor on top of that makes Laura enigmatic, brave, and oh so determined. I like her!

Sawbones is a runaway train ride, and all you can do is hold on tight and don’t eat anything at the beginning of Part II (trust me).

Melissa Lenhardt has a fabulous writing style that will send you off looking for more of her books. I can’t get enough! I’ve already read the 2 in the Jake McBride series!

” ‘. . . how does Texas sound?’
Daunting. Terrifying. Remote.” ~ chapter 2

“You have no idea the depth of your strength until you are truly tested.” ~ chapter 7

“I am reading in the reading room. Whatever will I do next?” ~ chapter 25
(This girl is sassy!)


After the cliffhanger at the end of Sawbones, Blood Oath starts off nice and slow, easing you back into the story. But don’t be fooled. William Kindle and Laura are on the run, chased by the Army, bounty hunters, and a whole mess of bad memories.

Once again, Melissa Lenhardt doesn’t hold back when detailing death and destruction. Several scenes will raise your ire, curdle your blood, and make you run screaming from the room. Yes, Blood Oath is that awesome! And I for one can’t wait to read the next book, Badlands, for more of the same.

In Blood Oath, Kindle’s and Laura’s resolve and fortitude are tested as they become battered, bruised, and betrayed by both enemies and friends alike. One of my favorite unlikely friends is Henry Pope. While he knows the truth and enough secrets about Kindle and Laura to turn them in, he ends up proving his loyalty and honest friendship in such endearing ways that you can’t help but fall just a little bit in love with him. Pope is one of my favorite characters!

With a writing style that is crisp and engaging, Melissa Lenhardt has an uncanny knack of turning the story on a dime and leaving you breathless with shock, horror, and anticipation for the next chapter and the next book. With each turn of the page and each turn of events, the story of Kindle and Laura unfolds and then transforms in ways no reader can possibly expect or predict.

Blood Oath ends with a cliffhanger, of course, and will leave you with the expectation that the next in the series, Badlands, will deliver just as many thrilling, suspenseful, and electrifying moments as both Sawbones and Blood Oath.


Oh how I didn’t want this trilogy to end, but end it must. Badlands packs a powerful punch from the first page all the way to the last. As with the first two books, the ride in Badlands is fast paced, mesmerizing, rough and gritty, and oh so exciting. I absolutely love Lenhardt’s ability to develop characters who are perfectly flawed in every way. I was right up there with Laura/Helen in her love-hate relationship with Rosamond. Seriously, even the minor characters are well developed and interesting.

Laura (yes, let’s just call her Laura) is brave, vulnerable, flawed, broken, and resilient. I am so impressed with her characterization throughout the entire trilogy, but Badlands has our girl struggling with drug addiction, constant fear, and excruciating sadness. But don’t despair. Did I mention Laura is resilient?

If you’re overly sensitive or squeamish in any way, this trilogy might not be for you. But I love the non-stop action and the every-subject-is-fair-game mentality. Lenhardt’s style is boldly refreshing.

“You and I both know men don’t want to see the real woman beneath the silks and perfume and powder.” ~ chapter 14

“Sometimes we believe what we want to believe, all evidence to the contrary.” ~ chapter 17

“Nothing good happens in the shadows.” ~ chapter 21

“Wasn’t that true friendship? Loving someone, flaws and all?” ~ chapter 26

“Goddamn, you’re a fine woman, Laura Kindle.” ~ chapter 32

If you’re interested, click on the images below this post to purchase these fabulous books!

2 Replies to “Book Impressions: Sawbones/Laura Elliston Trilogy by Melissa Lenhardt”

  1. LOVE this! I have been itching to write the same kind of post ever since I finished Badlands. This series! I am a huge fan, too. Thanks for writing it all down.