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Melissa Lenhardt

Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, Mysteries



Who Is Melissa Lenhardt?

Melissa Lenhardt writes women’s fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries. The New York Times called HERESY an “unapologetically badass western” and “an all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West.” Heresy also won the 2022 Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. Her first women’s fiction novel, THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME, was the first LGBTQ+ novel published by Mills and Boon in the UK. A lifelong Texan, Melissa is currently traveling the world as a digital nomad.

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A mother, a daughter and a road trip that’s about to take a hard left turn in this heartfelt and witty story about the sacrifices we make for love.

Darcy Evans is getting married. In a week. To a man who is her childhood dream come true. But a late-night confession from her best friend changes everything and before she even has time to unpack it, she must endure a road trip to the ceremony with her estranged mother, Marja. It was always the two of them against the world…until Marja ghosted Darcy three years ago. No car in the world has enough room for all of their baggage.

The drive from Austin to Chicago is nostalgic, claustrophobic, incredibly messy and exactly what both women need. As they each find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, long-held secrets are revealed—ones that reshape Darcy’s memories of the past and forever alter the future she’d recently been so certain of. She hadn’t known what a reunion with her mother might bring, but sometimes following your heart means taking a path you never planned…and finding a love you never imagined. 

The Secret of You and Me

True love never fades—and old secrets never die…

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

Diane Von Furstenberg Book Club Selection August 2022


2022 Audie Award Winner for Best Multi-Voice Performance

"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

"An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West...and that's exactly what Melissa Lenhardt delivers in her unapologetically badass Western, Heresy." (New York Times)

"Lenhardt has created a bold new story where women have taken their rightful place in the narrative of the Outlaw Western genre; where wit, wisdom, and wiles could mean the difference between life and death, and where the fellowship of women bested every challenge." (Kathleen Kent)

Margaret Parker and Hattie LaCour never intended to turn outlaw.

After being run off their ranch by a greedy cattleman, their family is left destitute. As women alone they have few choices: marriage, lying on their backs for money, or holding a gun. For Margaret and Hattie, the choice is simple. With their small makeshift family, the gang pulls off a series of heists across the West.

Though the newspapers refuse to give the female gang credit, their exploits don't go unnoticed. Pinkertons are on their trail, a rival male gang is determined to destroy them, and secrets among the group threaten to tear them apart.

Now, Margaret and Hattie must find a way to protect their family, finish one last job, and avoid the hangman's noose.

The Sawbones Series

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.

Sawbones is the first novel in a gripping historical fiction series.

"Packs a big punch with grit and raw passion. . ..A GRAND SLAM OUT OF THE PARK." -RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!) 4.5 stars

"Thoroughly original, smart and satisfying. . .perhaps a new subgenre: THE FEMINIST WESTERN." -Lone Star Literary Life
"DAMN BRILLIANT and I absolutely loved it!" -Bibliosanctum (4.5 stars)

"I COULDN'T TEAR MYSELF AWAY. . . An epic story of love and courage that sweeps from east to west, Sawbones will rip right through you." -Marci Jefferson

"A PAGE-TURNER" -Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times bestselling author

"YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE with Catherine." -Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author


The Jack McBride Mystery Series

Big secrets run deep.

Former FBI agent Jack McBride took the job as Chief of Police for Stillwater, Texas, to start a new life with his teenage son, Ethan, away from the suspicions that surrounded his wife’s disappearance 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, some drugs, occasional domestic disturbances, and petty theft. 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, small-town surroundings, Jack turns to Ellie Martin, one of the most respected women in town—her scandal-filled past notwithstanding. Despite Jack's murky marriage status and the disapproval of Ethan and the town, they are immediately drawn to each other.

As Jack and Ellie struggle with their budding relationship, they unearth shattering secrets long buried and discover the two cases Jack is working, though fifty years apart, share a surprising connection that will rattle the town to its core.

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Developmental Editing & Coaching Services
















I want to help you create a well-rounded manuscript that agents and editors can't stop reading!

As a developmental editor, I will help you:

* Make the most mundane setting the most interesting place in the world.
* Tighten your writing.
* Go deeper and create vulnerable characters.
* Write natural, realistic dialogue.
* Make sure your plot makes sense.
* Write a love scene, or a scene where two people fall in love.
* Learn how to edit and polish your manuscript and send the best possible version to an agent/editor.

As a writing coach, I will:

* Communicate and listen - Regularly scheduled zoom calls once or twice a month, depending on your needs.
* Offer constructive criticism and developmental services mentioned above.
* Offer expertise and advice, but leave the decisions to you.
* Help you navigate the strange, sometimes incomprehensible, world of publishing.
* Teach you how to finish a novel and move on to the next project.


"If you're looking for a developmental editor, look no further than Melissa. Her sharp editorial eye, her insightful approach to storytelling, and her extensive experience will help you take your manuscript to new heights. If there's heart and depth to be found in your novel, she'll help you coax it out." - Jenny Martin, author of TRACKED.

“Melissa Lenhardt has a great eye for story, and her knack for getting to the heart of a problem quickly makes her a must have member of any editing team. She's a fierce advocate for writers seeking to develop a distinctive voice." - Leslie Lutz, editor and author of Fractured Tide

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