Audiobook Review: Blood Oath by Melissa Lenhardt
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Book 2 of Sawbones/The Laura Elliston Trilogy
Publisher: Hachette Audio (May 23, 2017)
Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
Narrator: Suehyla El-Attar
Last year I fell head over heels in love with Melissa Lenhardt’s Sawbones, a post-Civil War western filled with equal parts gritty adventure and passionate romance. Needless to say, I was barely able to contain my excitement when I found out there would be not one but two follow-ups to the novel, rounding out a trilogy chronicling the extraordinary journey of a woman doctor on the run from the law.
While Blood Oath picks up not long after Sawbones, it is also a new beginning of a sort for our protagonist. The woman from New York known as Dr. Catherine Bennett is dead. Now she is Laura Elliston, a fugitive wanted for a crime she did not commit. Still, despite a new name and a new life on the frontier, she could not escape her past. And following the brutal events of the previous book, Laura now finds herself with even more personal demons to confront.
Fortunately, this time she has the help and companionship of her lover William Kindle, a former captain of the US Army. Traveling in disguise, the two of them persist in trying to find safe refuge, dodging every soldier, vigilante and two-bit bandit eager to collect the bounty on their heads. Already on edge from the dangers and stresses of the journey, the couple’s relationship is further strained from the uncertainties left after Laura’s horrific kidnapping and their showdown with Kindle’s vicious brother, Cotter Black. As a doctor, Laura understands better than most how even the worst physical pain can eventually fade and be forgotten over time, but when it comes to the emotional scars, she is not so sure, fearing that the damage on both their spirits may have broken them in ways they can never be healed.
Poor Laura and Kindle. The two of them can never catch a break, even after being put through the wringer in Sawbones. I wish I could tell you everything comes together for them, but apparently, they still have a little longer to wait for their happily-ever-after. Following her characters’ nightmare ordeal with Cotter Black, Melissa Lenhardt isn’t about to let up on her protagonists, throwing them into new situations full of hardships and horrors. Blood Oath might just be slightly less intense than its predecessor, but rest assured it still has its fair share of harsh injustices and gut-churning violence. Dark as it is though, this series reminds me of why I love Westerns, perfectly capturing a sense of danger and the atmosphere of constant threat in an untamed country. This tone of raw candidness keeps me coming back, not to mention the author’s storytelling skills and no-holds-barred style.
And yet, despite the brutal realities of the era, we also have the passion as a counterpoint. Laura and Kindle had excellent chemistry in Sawbones, and it pained me to read about what happened to them at the end of that book and to see the emotional aftermath of those events here. Neither of them are the same people anymore, which made me sad—but I’m also encouraged by their efforts to talk it out and make things work. First, the story had to address Laura’s trauma from her experiences in the first book, and the effects on her relationship with Kindle have not been easy, as one would expect. Second, misunderstandings and secrets are also awakened as the two learn more about each other and their pasts. Reading about Laura and Kindle’s struggles broke my heart, but at the same time, I had been prepared for a lot of these obstacles in a second novel. Historical romances are often fraught with drama and uncertainties, and this is especially true when you’re dealing with post-war turmoil and the ruthless conditions of the Wild West. Luckily though, there are moments of hope and lightness as Laura is determined to never abandon her humanity, and she will also never stop fighting for her and Kindle’s future.
Bottom line, I love a good Western. Sawbones was amazing and its sequel Blood Oath was no slouch either, so I would highly recommend picking up this series if you are a fan of historical fiction or historical romance with a bit of grit. Like I wrote in my review for the first book, it was this juxtaposition of loveliness and gruesomeness that made the story so compelling, and considering how shockingly things ended in this one, it’s looking like the trend will be continuing into book three, Badlands. I just can’t wait.
Audiobook Comments: I might have read the first book in print, but as soon as I found out this series was getting audiobooks, I just knew I had to give them a try. Having heard narrator Suehyla El-Attar perform on other books before, the moment I saw her name attached to this project, I had a good feeling she would make a perfect Laura Elliston and indeed I was not disappointed. Her accents, tones and inflections are all spot on, and she managed to bring both Laura and Kindle to life in a way I never imagined in this absolutely brilliant and immersive experience.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Sawbones (Book 1)