An Epic & Gritty Historical Fiction Series by Melissa Lenhardt

me-iiYesterday I posted about a series I discovered and how starting a series for me is a big commitment due to the overload of books I have to review. As you know, I stumbled across The Journals of Matthew Quinton Series. It looks so inviting and adventurous. Alas, after posting about it I jumped over to my Amazon account to check a few things and I saw that two more books have been written about a story I read and reviewed called, Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt. I absolutely enjoyed the story! I rated it five stars and gave it a glowing review. I actually cheered when I saw that there were two more books and at the same time, sighed in a bit of frustration. I want more time in the day to get through all the books I want to read! Gah! *laughing* Dare I rearrange my reading priorities or stick to what I have and if I get through the ones I need to review first and read two books from the series I mentioned yesterday, then I can reward myself with the next two books following Sawbones? *Phew, that was a long sentience* Yes, that sounds like a good plan to me.  Meanwhile, take a look at my review of Sawbones and check out the other two books that follow it. By the way…I LOVE the covers!

Sawbones IISawbones (Laura Elliston #1)

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.

My Review:

I am really not all that interested in reading westerns. I never have been but when I saw this book and the title, it grabbed my attention. It really struck a cord with me.

Now, I feel the book description needs to be expanded on. Though even with writing this review, I was trying to work out how to pull what was not mentioned into my review without giving spoilers.

SAWBONES is a story you can talk about in several different ways. That is how diverse the themes are in the story. Having said that, those themes all come together and in such a dramatic way. The author did an incredible job with that. I was spell bounded.

First I’d like to mention a notable historical character in the story. William Tecumseh Sherman served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War. After burning everything in Georgia and the burning of Atlanta, I really didn’t care learning much about him after that particular information in our history. Though many people found him as an outstanding commander, I found his policies and actions deplorable. Though he plays a small roll in SAWBONES, his larger-than-life presence makes a big impression on me. Also, it was really interesting because I did not know anything about his tours of the Texas Forts after the Civil War. Now, I would like to find out more about that and I have the author of this book to thank for this.

As you will read in the book description, Catherine Bennett is wrongly accused of murder and flees out west to the untamed territories of Colorado and on that journal she experiences yet another life altering moment. Catherine paralyzed with fear, witnesses the massacre of the companions she is traveling with. The author does not shy away from describing the carnage done by the Comanche. This is only the beginning of the tragedies that struck her and the people she loves and conflicts she will witness and endure.

As a female doctor-rare of her time and not widely accepted, she is determined to prove her value and intelligence in a man’s world. I was particular drawn to her achievements of becoming a doctor and how the author portrayal Catherine’s moments of practicing medicine. They are empowering and defining.

There are many other wonderful characters in this story and the author has such a discerning writing style for their value to enrich a story.

SAWBONES had me emotionally invested, and ignited my imagination. The author is truly a gifted story-teller and I look forward to reading more of her work.


Blood OathBlood Oath (Laura Elliston #2)

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this action-packed follow up to Sawbones.

Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run — from the Army and from every miscreant in the West eager to claim the $500 bounty for Laura’s capture as their own. But the danger isn’t just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle have demons of their own and a past that won’t stay dead. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come



BadlandsBadlands (Laura Elliston #3)

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.

A Writer’s life with Hunter S. Jones

Den Hunter

I’d like to welcome Deb Hunter to Layered Pages today to talk with me about her writing. She writes fiction as Hunter S. Jones. She is a member of the prestigious Society of Authors founded by Lord Tennyson, Rivendell Writers Colony, Historical Writers’ Association, Historical Novel Society and the Atlanta Writer’s Club. Her Tudor History blog, Fear and Loathing in Tudor England, is a reader’s favorite. Originally from a Chattanooga, Tennessee, she currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her best seller, PHOENIX RISING, a fictional story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn is available on and at a bookstore near you.

SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME is a multi-dimensional series set in post-Civil War Reconstruction in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the north Georgia. This series is an Amazon Exclusive available via MadeGlobal Publishing.

Why do you write?

Is there really an answer for this? I’m not certain if writing is a compulsion or an art form. It feels as if it’s a bit of both, doesn’t it? Writing is something I have always done. As a child I made up stories and plays for my cousins and friends to ‘play’. Some people dance, some paint, some are musicians and some of us write. Writing has always been a major part of my life. Great question. Thank you for asking.


How has writing impacted your life?

You mean besides having no interaction with family or friends so you can research? Or, the part about chatting with strangers about imaginary people who you have created? Otherwise, I can’t say it’s impacted my life at all.

Actually, writing has had a wonderful impact on my life. Due to writing, I received a scholarship which assisted in paying for part of my undergrad degree, many moons ago. Along the way, I’ve worked with some incredible people and institutions. Writing and research have lead me to meet some of my best friends and helped in building friendships with quite a few people I admire greatly. Writing has shown me a path that I want to follow for the rest of my life. My own ‘Yellow Brick Road’, so to speak. I cannot wait to get to Oz, because the journey has been a revelation.

Let’s use my new series SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME and my novella PHOENIX RISING as an example. PHOENIX RISING is a story of Anne Boleyn. It introduced me to Claire Ridgway, Alison Weir, Susan Bordo, Elizabeth Fremantle and Nancy Bilyeau. I admire and respect these authors immensely. Working with them on my FEAR AND LOATHING IN TUDOR ENGLAND has been a dream come true.

Yet, after PHOENIX RISING and the success the book has brought, it would be expected that I follow with another Tudor era story, right? Well, it didn’t work that way for me. I was inundated with Tudor information and decided to write about something I knew little about, the post-Civil War era, known as Reconstruction. We all know the U.S. Civil War is documented and the stuff of legends. But, what secrets lie hidden in the Reconstruction Era?

In writing SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME, I took two family stories to build the series on; first my family was involved with the Cherokee Nation in the 1800s. Part of the family went to Oklahoma and part remained in Southeast Tennessee. The other fable is that we sold medicine in Chattanooga during the Reconstruction. So, I dive in head first and begin research, only to find out that little is documented for the era due to the volatile political and racial divide in the U.S. from 1867-1877. Not to be deterred, I have worked with the Chickamauga National Military Park, Chattanooga History Center, and the Atlanta History Center to better understand what everyday people experienced during this controversial period in U.S. History.

What I have discovered is that Chattanooga was a hospital center for the Confederacy at the first part of the Civil War. Due to the railroad system, wounded soldiers were shipped to Chattanooga to heal. As the tides of war turned, Chattanooga became a hospital center for the Union Army, again due to the railroads into the town.

As my research continued, I discovered that patented medicine at that time was a unique quantity. If you sold medicine after the war, you didn’t simply stand on a street corner and peddle your wares, nor did you mainly sell your medicine in a shop or pharmacy. Medicine companies or pharmacies would pay for medicine shows to tour parts of the Southeast to sell the medicine. These traveling medicine shows were the only entertainment everyday people in the rural South had at that time. When the musicians and entertainers came to a little town, it became a big event. These Southern medicine shows, and there were medicine shows in the Northern states as well, evolved into what we now call the Wild West shows of the late 1800s. In the early 20th century the traveling shows underwent another metamorphosis and became known as Vaudeville.

There’s much more but you will have to read my series to learn more. Although, SECRETS form a DANGEROUS TIME, it’s simply a history book. I’ve blended the drama of the era with the mystique of the South, tossed in romance and enough suspense to give the stories a contemporary feel. Who doesn’t love a steamy Victorian romance with enough history to make the story intriguing?

One more thing for you. When I decided to write a Victorian story, I looked into what was popular with Victorian readers. Serialized fiction was all the rage. Think Charles Dickens and The Pickwick Papers, Alexandre Dumas and The Three Musketeers. In America, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James and Herman Melville wrote serialized stories.

Following their formats, I decided to write SECRETS form a DANGEROUS TIME and its stories in a series. I have even included photographs and maps which have never been published before, just as was done in Victorian series. All in all, this has been a labor of love and a dream project for someone who is both a literature and history proponent. I invite your readers to take this journey with me.

What advice would you give to beginner writers?

Follow your heart but don’t quite your day job!

Thank you so much for featuring me today!

Secrets from a Dangerous Time is listed as a fall 2015 featured release by Historical Magazine!

Follow her on social media at these sites:



Get the latest from the Dangerous Time series by following the Pinterest board