Database Part 2

Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

Sawbones (Sawbones #1)Dr. Catherine Bennett must run from a wrongly-accused murder charge, but will the untamed land of Colorado be far enough? 

Title: Sawbones
Author: Melissa Lenhardt
ISBN: 
1432841971 (ISBN13: 9781432841973)

Genre: Western, Romance
Series? Yes; Sawbones/ Laura Elliston

Publisher: Redhook
First Publication Date: March 29th 2016 (421 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $2.99
  • Paperback $9.17
  • Audio CD $105.99
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

I was looking for another Western to read, one not necessarily a romance, with a strong woman lead. This one fit the bill and apparently is a part of a budding new subgenre: feminist westerns. 

Author Interviews: 

Lone Star Literary
Books and Broomsticks

Significance:

Female centered books that do not focus on romance are pretty rare. This book is also significant because it is the start of what some are calling a new subgenre of westerns: feminist western. 

Awards: N/A

Synopsis: 

Dr. Catherine Bennett is in a rough spot. She is being charged for a murder she hasn’t done. As one of the only female doctors, she is not liked by many and since her accuser is rich, she has no choice but to run or be hanged. She takes her maid with her as they decide to head for the wilds of Colorado. They hope that with a new name and in a new place, far from New York, where news may not reach, that people will not figure out who she is. 

Traveling to the West, is not easy, especially not for two women on their own. They saddle up with a wagon train going West, with the promise of military assistance, but they find the amount of armed men to be lacking. With the rumors of increased Indian attacks and savagery on travelers, many in the caravan are worried. Catherine thinks they must be exaggerated.

They will not have to wait long to find out one way or another. 

Evaluation:

 This book was very difficult to get through. I pushed through, wanting to know what people found so interesting about this book, but I ended up being more repulsed than encouraged to read more. Let me explain. 

Because Catherine is a doctor during a time when there is little that can be done to save people, I expected some medical gore. I did not expect attempted rape, rape, scalping, mass murder, and more. That came as a complete surprise and is something I feel that books should make sure people know they are getting into. There was so much detail. If I had not been reading this for an assignment, I wouldn’t have continued. Also, the portrayal of Native Americans was pretty horrible. True, there is one or two instances of showing they aren’t so bad, but considering our main character hates them and is attacked by them, there is a lot of negativity. It can make the reader feel quite uncomfortable. 

Besides that, the book is quite slow-paced for my taste, but I have read that many others have found it to be at a good solid clip. The beginning is slow, in my opinion, the middle is okay, but the ending is decently fast. This mixed pacing along with the abruptness of the next parts, makes the book confusing at times. For example, at the end of part one, everything is going great, then the next page, the beginning of part two, they are in the middle of an attack. At first, I thought I was missing pages. 

The characters are developed well and the setting is described nicely. So, there are some good parts to the book. The medical knowledge of the time is interesting to learn about as well. 

 I probably will not be continuing this series. 

Other Reviews:
 

Appeals:

West, medical practices, woman doctor, compelling characters, gritty writing style

“Clues for the Future”

scalping, gang rape, forced marriage, Dr. Catherine Bennett -> Laura Elliston, Kindle, military, Texas, Native Americans, Civil War references

Rating:

  • Quality: 3★
  • Popularity: 1★
    This book is one for a very select audience

Read-alikes

True SistersRide the RiverSisters of Shiloh

  • True Sisters by Sandra Dallas
    Both books features strong female characters in peril as they travel West. 
  • Ride the River by Louis L’Amour
    Both books take place in the same time period with a strong female character.
  • Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy & Becky Hepinstall
    Female characters are at the front of these novels, with romance and many trials.

Booktalking Ideas

For starters, I would definitely mention that there is some brutal and harsh language and events before talking so people will know before getting interested if they cannot handle it.

I would focus on Catherine and her journey. I wouldn’t go deep into who she is, but more about her problem and her apparent solution. I might open the floor asking what the readers think will happen and give a little hint about part 2. 

Another take on this would be to talk about her profession and her sex, about how while she isn’t always believed she is needed. “Perhaps being needed will out weigh people’s want to turn her in.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think about the attempted rape at the beginning of the book? Was it part of the plot to destroy her, unrelated, or even needed for the story? 
  2. Do you agree with everyone around her who told her to pretend to be a midwife? 
  3. What is your opinion on Catherine’s character? 
  4. What did you think of the ending? 
  5. Will you read the sequel? What do you hope will happen? Do you think Kindle will stay with her? 
Database Part 1

Texas Bride by Joan Johnston (2012)

Texas Bride (Mail-Order Brides #1)To save her siblings from a cruel orphanage, Miranda agrees to blindly marry a Texan cowboy.

Title: Texas Bride
Author: Joan Johnston
ISBN: 0345527445 (ISBN13: 9780345527448)

Genre: Western Romance
Series? Yes; Novels can be read as standalones

Publisher: Dell
First Publication Date: January 1st, 2012 (358 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $7.99
  • Hardcover $22.71
  • Paperback $4.75

Why I chose this book: 

I was looking for a sweet, easy to read book after reading The Stepford Wives and I noticed this one was available at the library and was one mentioned in Genreflecting.

Author Interviews:

Recent interview on official website
Happy Ever After

Significance:

N/A — there is nothing exactly unique or notably outstanding about this book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book.

Synopsis: 

Miranda and her five siblings have been living in an orphanage with a brutal caretaker ever since her parents died in The Great Chicago Fire. Miranda is finally eighteen and will be forced to leave in the morning, leaving her siblings behind while her future will hold washing dishes and struggling to survive. Her sister Josie comes up with a plan for Miranda to be a mail-order bride fulfilling the ad a Texan cowboy posted in the paper and then send for the rest of them when she is able. Miranda agrees seeing no better option and whisks her two youngest siblings away with her (Nick, 10, and Harry, 4) to keep them safe and prove her siblings can be useful.

Jake Creed is down on his luck. His step-father stole his father’s property away from him and has been trying to run him out of town since he took over his uncle’s land, and his wife and son died in childbirth just six months prior. Jake has been trying to run a cattle ranch and care for his two year old daughter and disabled father-in-law on his own. He needs a wife to tend his house and raise his daughter, but he doesn’t need to love her.

Both bring lies into their marriage and secrets abound, but can a marriage of convenience also spring love?

Evaluation: 

I had fun reading this book. If you don’t think too deeply about it, it is pleasant and interesting, even with all the horrible things that happen within. Sometimes a ‘Happy Ever After’ is what is needed. I may not be the biggest fan of this couple, but they aren’t the worst I have ever read about.

The characters did not all feel flushed out as much as they could be and seemed a bit one dimensional. Miranda definitely had the most personality and sides to her and seeing her grow after being abused in the orphanage. Even Nick grew as a character, which was fun to read. Jake, Slim, and the younger children were pretty boring. The children are there for cute factor and obstacles while Slim is just the baby sitter. Jake moans and groans about how he can’t have sex with his bride because he doesn’t want to make her pregnant. I suppose there is a slow build of romance here, but it is more like he finally gave into his lust.

Plot-wise, I thought the book moved quite smoothly. A woman dying in childbirth was a real concern back in those days and Miranda wanting family of her own made sense. What I thought were the bigger plot points, Miranda’s sisters back home and Blackthorne keeping Jake from ranching fully, were brought up often, but never actually resolved. Those are two big issues, yet they almost seemed like non-issues in the end. While the sister issue is resolved in the sequels (they are the stars of the next books), the Blackthorne one won’t be. So, the seemed a bit anti-climatic.

Other Reviews: 

Publisher’s Weekly

RT Book Reviews

Appeals:

steamy tone, western setting, historical, engaging writing, strong female characters

This book is definitely for romance readers, although the accuracy over the historical setting can be debated.

“Clues for the Future”

mail order bride, texas cowboy, evil step-father, cruel orphanage caretaker, Great Chicago Fire, conniving  uncle

Rating:

  • Quality: 3★
    I felt there could have been more here. Missed potential.
  • Popularity: 2★
    This author and her series may be somewhat known among romance readers.

Read-alikes:

Texas Mail Order Bride (Bachelors of Battle Creek, #1)Nearest Thing to Heaven (Maverick Junction, #2)Travis (Texans, #4)

  • Texas Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday
    Same concept about mail order brides in the west, but a completely different story. Also has a strong female character.
  • Nearest Thing to Heaven by Lynnette Austin
    A modern western setting romance with children involved and an independent woman.
  • Travis by Georgina Gentry
    A woman who is taking care of younger children and marries a man in hopes of taking care of them better. Also, a western romance.

Booktalking Ideas:

I would create a bleak picture of Miranda and her siblings’ lives in the orphanage, trying to create empathy in the audience and then give hope in the form of this mail order bride position.

Then I would paint a picture of Jake, starting with a quote about how he refuses to consummate his marriage, then moving into his difficult life and need for a wife.

Another way I might start this is reading a revised version of the siblings in the kitchen as they decide for Miranda to go live in Texas, to really get the crowd into the book.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Mail order brides were popular when the west was being developed because there were men than women and impoverished women were given another chance at life. Today, people are mail order brides for many reasons. What do you think about the industry today and how it has changed?
  2. Miranda was finally able to get her hands on her parent’s money. What would you do if you inherited 1 million dollars right now?
  3. Do you think Miranda should tell Jake about her sisters earlier? Should she sneak her sisters onto the ranch earlier in the book?
  4. Cricket and Blackthorne’s relationship is pretty tricky. For those of you who read Cricket and Jarrett’s book, what are your opinions? If you haven’t, what did you think?
  5. Do you think Blackthorne is too harsh on Jake? Do you think Jake’s mother should do more to help Jake?