“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” — Toni Morrison

Thank you for visiting my website, and thank you, Toni Morrison, for perfectly explaining why I write.


Spring 2016

Sawbones_Postcard_Back1871, New York City. Fiercely independent doctor, Catherine Bennett, is forced to leave her home and practice when she is accused of murdering a patient’s husband. With a $500 bounty on her head, she sails for Galveston, to build a new life with a new name, but soon realizes Texas is not as remote or safe as she assumed. Laura Elliston, as she is now known, decides to emigrate to Colorado and settle in one of the many new, remote towns in desperate need of doctors being promoted by land agents on the Galveston wharf.

When her wagon train is massacred by Comanche she is saved by a Buffalo Soldier cavalry regiment and their wounded white officer, Captain William Kindle. Laura recognizes him instantly as an officer she treated at Antietam who, if he recognizes her as the orderly who sewed up his mutilated face eight years earlier, may or may not know her true identity. She pushes concerns for her own safety aside and, amid the smoldering wreckage of the wagon train and with a thunderstorm on the horizon, she saves Kindle’s life once again.

Laura cares for Kindle at Fort Richardson, an Army fort on the front lines of the Indian War, and is ordered by General William Tecumseh Sherman to fill in as the fort doctor until the new doctor arrives. Though fearful she will be identified as the fugitive murderess, Laura is eager to prove herself to Sherman and receive his letter of recommendation, which will open doors for her in her new life. She takes on the challenge of clearing the hospital of malingerers and manages a typhus outbreak while growing closer to Kindle. Soon, Laura discovers her intelligence, independence and strong spirit are qualities revered in the west, but as in the east, they are not revered in a woman. Isolated from everyone but Kindle, she has no idea their deepening friendship is being watched closely by a man from Kindle’s past, and will prove more dangerous to her survival than the price on her head.

Coming Spring 2016 from Redhook (Hachette)

For more information about SAWBONES, click here.


October 6, 2015


STILLWATER now available for pre-order on Amazon!


Small-town loyalties and long-simmering secrets combine for  a compelling page-turner!  A fish-out-of-water lawman and his adolescent son try to escape the past in not-so-cozy Stillwater, Texas –but soon they’re battling corruption, revenge, and murder. Fast-paced dialogue, an authentic setting, and engaging characters–Stillwater is a one-sitting read.

Hank Phillippi Ryan – Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Daphne and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author

STILLWATER runs deep with intrigue, passion, and long-buried secrets. Melissa Lenhardt weaves a rich tale of suspense as hot as the east Texas town in which it’s set.

Annette Dashofy, USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mysteries


With a twisting plot, nonstop action and a sexy, complex protagonist you’ll root for from page one, Lenhardt brings the town of Stillwater, Texas (pop. 2,436), and all its long-buried secrets, to life. Fast-paced and tightly-written, STILLWATER is a must-read for anyone who loves great crime fiction. Book two can’t come soon enough!

Wendy Tyson, author of Killer Image and Deadly Assets.


“We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”
― Robert Frost

Ex-FBI agent Jack McBride took the job as Chief of Police for Stillwater, Texas (Pop. 2436), to start a new life with his fourteen-year old son, Ethan, away from the suspicions that surrounded his wife’s disappearance nearly a year earlier. With a low crime rate and a five man police force he expected it to be a nice, easy gig; hot checks, traffic violations, petty drugs, occasional domestic disturbances and home invasions. Instead, within a week he is investigating a staged murder-suicide, uncovering a decades old skeleton buried in the woods and managing the first crime wave in thirty years.

For help navigating his unfamiliar surroundings, Jack turns to Ellie Martin, former high school basketball star and banker, current bookstore/coffee shop owner, rumored to be the richest woman in town and one of the most respected, her scandal-filled past notwithstanding. Despite the murky status of Jack’s marriage and the disapproval of Ethan and the town, they are undeniably drawn to each other. As Jack and Ellie struggle with their budding relationship, they unravel the secrets buried in the woods with the skeleton and discover the two cases, fifty years apart, share a surprising connection that will rattle the town to its core.

Coming October 6, 2015 from Skyhorse Publishing.

Add STILLWATER to your Goodreads WANT TO READ shelf.


DSC_5131 - Version 2Melissa Lenhardt never dreamed of becoming a writer. In fact, aside from her childhood imaginary friends, Tippy and Gaga, who were more a result of a lonely country life than true ingenuity, she would have disputed the idea there was a creative bone in her body. Until one day she had an idea and started writing. Twelve years and a million unpublished words later, Melissa’s debut STILLWATER (mystery) will be released by Skyhorse Publishing in October 2015 and SAWBONES will be released by Redhook (Hachette) in Spring 2016.

Melissa writes mystery, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. SAWBONES, her historical fiction manuscript won the Frisco Public Library First Chapter contest and STILLWATER was a finalist for the Whidbey Island Writers Association MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest. Her short fiction has appeared in the Western Online, Heater Mystery Magazine, and CHRISTMAS NOOKIES, a holiday themed romance anthology. Melissa is on the board of directors for the DFW Writers’ Workshop, Vice President of Sisters in Crime North Dallas, a member of the Texas State Historical Society and the Mystery Writers of America.

Melissa is represented by Alice Speilburg of Speilburg Literary Agency. She lives in Texas with her family.

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