11 Mar 2018

Review - Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

Title: Sawbones (Sawbones #1)

Author: Melissa Lenhardt


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.

My Thoughts:

I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Life at the Frontier in post Civil-War America was not a bed of roses, least of all if you happened to be a qualified doctor AND a woman. This is what Melissa Lenhardt proves us in Sawbones, the first book in her western trilogy that runs under the same name.

Catherine has to leave New York behind urgently after she gets accused of murder. She has no idea why one of her former patients holds a grudge against her, however she has no choice but flee if she doesn't want to hang. She believes her best chance to disappear is in the west but her journey through the Colorado prairie is paved with danger. She has to build her life from zero again in no man's land among people she is not sure she can trust, bearing the stigma of a woman who practices what was considered a man's profession at the time.

For me the strongest quality in Sawbones was the plot. Although it took some time, I got to the point where I was genuinely interested what happens next. Ms Lenhardt is good at building up tension and she doesn't shy away from major plot twists either when I was only a few chapters in, the story took a totally different course than I thought it would in the beginning. First I wasn't sure if I liked the new situation but soon I became immersed and couldn't stop guessing what would come next.

The second best component I'd say was the romance. Captain Kindle, the love interest, is a very entertaining flirt. He strongly reminded me of Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind (that's a compliment in my book). I liked that his and Laura's (Catherine's) acquaintance actually went back to the war and yet they started out as strangers to each other.

Catherine, the heroine, however was a character I simply couldn't like. Her being a representation of an issue the way men treated (smart) women at the time stole away any possiblity of character development. She is without flaw from the beginning and she mainly does what she was created to do: comes up with snarky remarks whenever she is verbally attacked (mostly by men). Don't get me wrong, I like her sharp tongue, but I think the situations when she has to use it are unnecessarily numerous in the book. I hope I'll see some changes later so I can grow to like her in the sequels to come.

The villain was mysterious in the first half of the novel and he had a decent backstory, which I appreciated. I also liked most of the side-characters and the way life in the fort was described.

I'd like to continue on with the series because of the gripping plot. I don't read enough western anyway, which is a shame...

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