Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Excerpt & Giveaway: BADLANDS by Melissa Lenhardt

Sawbones, Book 3

  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Publisher: Redhook
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt's fast-paced historical series.

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.


Excerpt from Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt
Chapter One, Part 2

There was a knock on the door. Dunk stood and slid it open. The conductor glanced at me and lowered his voice. “You lookin’ for a game?”
Dunk tried to shield the conductor from my view. “May be.”
“Last car.”
Dunk returned to his seat, and rubbed his hands up and down his thighs.
“Don’t stay on my account,” I said.
“I told Miss Rose I’d look after you.”
“You’re guarding me, you mean?”
Dunk’s expression turned sheepish. “No, ma’am.”
“Where would I go?” I nodded toward the town plopped down in the middle of the plains. “Besides, I’m too exhausted to move. Go on. Rosemond will be back soon.”
Dunk rubbed his hands together and stood. “You sure?”
I closed my eyes and nodded my head. I heard Dunk pull a bag down from the overhead shelf, rifle through and return it. The door opened and closed, and I was alone.
I sat up straight, took a few deep breaths to steady my queasy stomach and spinning head. I wasn’t sure what Dunk meant, about me staying with Rosemond, but I didn’t want to wait to find out.
Holding on to the open window, I stood on wobbly legs and retrieved the bag on the shelf. Inside were a few men’s clothes, a razor and soap and an old copy of Shakespeare’s Othello. I flipped through the well-worn pages and stopped at the front. To Dunk, Elizabeth Jennings March, June 20, 1857. I dropped the book back into the bag and exhaled. No money. Of course Dunk took his money with him. I returned the bag to its place and looked around the compartment.
A bulging leather notebook tied securely with a leather string lay on the bench across from me. I untied the notebook and a pencil, the cause of the bulge, fell from the marked page. Expecting a journal and hoping for a secreted sawbuck, I stared dumbfounded at a sketch of a woman sitting on a bench, her head leaned against the window, asleep.
I flipped back through the notebook, finding much of the same. Women and men, in various poses and states of dress, an occasional landscape. Doodles, half-finished character studies, two birds sitting on a window sill. A dark skinned man from behind, his head turned as if looking over his shoulder, his back crisscrossed with long scars. A naked woman, looking down and away from the artist, dark curly hair exploding from her head and down to her shoulders. It was the most complete and detailed sketch and when I flipped forward I saw why; pages and pages of starts and stops, of small sketches focused in on different angles, different parts of the body, trying to achieve the artist’s vision.
I glanced out the window, searching for Rosemond. She’d advanced to the shebang doorway and would be inside soon. The urge to escape from Rosemond and whatever future she kidnapped me for was overwhelming, but even in my drug-addled state I knew escape would do me little good without money.
A woman in a dark dress clutching a blue and orange paisley carpet bag stepped in my line of sight, obscuring Rosemond. Her head turned on a swivel, searching for someone. She stood approximately where Rosemond had, but with strikingly different results. Where Rosemond had been met with admiring looks from the men on the platform (and, like most of the West, it was nearly all men), men caught sight of this woman and their expression turned quickly from a willingness to admire to a quick aversion of their eyes, and maybe a tip of their hat to disguise their rudeness. The woman stood as if a rod was strapped to her back, her shoulders and long neck straight in what could only be a defiant mien.
The woman’s head stilled and, after a brief pause, she stepped forward and stopped. I followed her gaze to see what caught her eye. A man—a farmer by the looks of his plain dress, sunburned face and slicked down hair—stood twenty feet away, holding his hat in his hands in much the same way as the woman held her bag. Unlike most of the men, he stared at her for a long moment. Disappointment morphed to disgust and he turned on his heel, shoved his hat on his head, and walked away. The woman’s body leaned toward the departing man, as if readying to follow, before straightening. She turned toward the train. I saw her face for the first time, and I understood the revulsion.
Her nose was too small, her face too long, her jaw too strong, her skin too freckled. Full lips struggled to contain her protruding teeth. A fringe of wiry orange hair escaped the edge of her sugar scoop bonnet. Her green eyes, though, were beautiful, and stared straight at me, full of pride and challenge, and I knew being rejected or stared at wasn’t the worst that had ever happened to her. 

Melissa Lenhardt is the author 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.

 Three Winners 
1stBadlands paperback;       2ndBadlands eBook; 
3rdBadlands audio download via Downpour
June 27-July 6, 2017
(U.S. Only)


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