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THE BEAUTY DOCTOR: A Mystery-Suspense-Thriller Set in the Edwardian Era

Books and Benches is pleased to welcome author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard to the blog and to share an excerpt of her historical mystery suspense novel set in the Edwardian Era, The Beauty Doctor. Scroll down for a look.

The Beauty Doctor is a compelling historical novel steeped in mystery with strong elements of a medical thriller.”—Readers' Favorite Book Reviews, 5 stars

The Beauty Doctor by Elizabeth Hutchinson Bernard

The Beauty Doctor

by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

A Bone-Chilling Mystery-Suspense-Thriller Set in the Edwardian Era

Finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Award

"Beauty is power," Dr. Rome told her. "And with enough power, one can achieve anything."

Straightening noses, trimming eyelids, lifting jowls . . . In the year 1907, his revolutionary beauty surgery is considered daring, perhaps dangerous. Still, women want what Dr. Rome promises. Neither is his young assistant Abigail Platford immune to Dr. Rome's persuasive charm.

Abigail once dreamed of becoming a doctor, though of a much different sort. That dream ended with her father's tragic death from a medical error for which she holds herself responsible. Dr. Rome, who proudly displays his medical degree from Johns Hopkins, seems to believe in her. If he were willing to act as her mentor, might there still be a chance to realize her dream of someday becoming a doctor serving New York City's poor?

But something feels terribly wrong, as though an insidious evil is closing in. Broken promises, lies, and intrigues abound. The powerful are threatening to destroy the weak, and a doctor's sacred duty hangs in the balance. Abigail no longer knows who to believe; but with Dr. Rome now her mentor and her lover, she desperately wants to trust him.

Even when she discovers that one of their patients has mysteriously disappeared.

From bestselling author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, a suspenseful work of historical fiction grounded in the social and moral issues of the Edwardian era in America. Second Edition with Author's Preface.

Genre: Historical Mystery Suspense

At the time of this posting, this title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

“It kept me reading and did not disappoint.” —Historical Novel Society Book Reviews

An Excerpt from The Beauty Doctor

On the chance Dr. Rome was still attending to Mr. Kilroy, she lay in wait. He was clearly surprised to find her loitering in front of the Kilroys’ townhome. She explained that she was calling off her engagement and needed to find employment. He seemed interested. It wasn’t until they were sitting across from each other at Café Le Jour on Forty-sixth Street that Abigail began to think she’d made yet another terrible mistake.

“You are a very beautiful young woman,” he said, smiling at her over his coffee cup. “I suppose people tell you that all the time.”

“Not so often, actually.” That he had begun on such a personal note, and with the same overabundance of charm he’d displayed at the Hennessys’ banquet, had an unsettling effect on her. As did his gaze, which was direct and insistent.

“I’m sure you’re only being modest, but you need not be around me. I appreciate beauty for what it is and for the entitlements it brings to those lucky enough to have it.”

\“I’ve never been one to think much about entitlements. I was taught that if you desire something, you work for it. Which is why I wanted to speak with you—”

“There are lots of women who work very hard at being beautiful and still they can’t hold a candle to you. I’d even go so far as to say that you, Miss Platford, are the embodiment of everything I hope to achieve for my patients. That’s why you may actually be the perfect one to assist me with my new practice. You see, what I really need,” he said, the excitement in his voice building, “is a foil. A stunningly beautiful foil.”

“A foil?” She wasn’t sure what the word meant, but didn’t like the way it sounded.

“Yes. Someone to make the rounds with me at parties and events, anywhere we can meet women—the kind of women with both the desire and the means to avail themselves of my services.” This was not what she’d expected, nor was it a welcome development. Her purpose in approaching Dr. Rome was a far more serious one than his words implied. She had imagined herself working at his side, much as she had done with her father, helping to put patients at ease, assisting with their care. And though it was not her favorite duty, she would readily have consented to manage his schedule and fulfill the required paperwork if he were to ask her. But this business of attending parties and events—what did it have to do with doctoring?

“You speak of meeting women in need of your services, but surely you plan to take care of men as well. Mr. Kilroy is your patient, isn’t he?”

“For the moment, yes—though that was only a favor. But let me explain.” He took a hasty gulp of his coffee and set down the cup. “I’m about to embark on a new facet of my career, a new field. Transformative surgery. Have you heard of it?”

“I don’t believe I have.”

“Some call it beauty surgery.”

She instantly recalled splashy advertisements she’d seen in the newspapers for practitioners who claimed to specialize in straightening noses, pinning back ears, and plumping up wrinkles with paraffin. At best, such solicitations had struck her as tasteless. At worst … might Dr. Rome be nothing more than a charlatan?

“Oh—you’re a beauty doctor.” The inflection in her voice no doubt came across as somewhat disparaging. She dipped her head, hoping to obscure the visual evidence of her skepticism beneath the plethora of ostrich feathers on the brim of her blue velvet hat.

“Just imagine it for a moment, Miss Platford,” he said, seeming not to have found anything disturbing in her reaction. “Your mere presence by my side would stimulate, in any average woman, an intense longing for beauty; then, arising quite naturally from that, a burning curiosity. With just a hint, she would be eager to learn what I offer in the way of beautifying procedures. That’s how one goes about building a thriving beauty practice. Stimulate the need, offer the solution. Or, if you prefer, think of it this way: You would be helping to enlighten women about advances that can greatly enhance their lives. No different from selling a product. A product that people would certainly buy if they only knew its benefits.”

So, he wanted her to help him sell the concept of beauty surgery to other women? That was not what a doctor does! To take part in such activities would compromise everything she believed in. “Your idea is to use me as a sort of walking advertisement?”

“I wouldn’t put it like that.”

“Forgive me for being blunt, but are you really a doctor?”

He shoved aside his coffee cup, almost knocking it over. “Would I call myself a doctor if I wasn’t one?”

“I don’t mean to offend you. It’s just that I don’t know any other doctors who are engaged in your kind of work.”

“Because no medical school in this country has the foresight to embrace transformative surgery. That’s why it was necessary for me to receive advanced training in Europe. I returned from Paris only recently.”

“But you did train in medicine? Here in America?”

“Certainly, but the typical doctor’s training only goes so far. The medical establishment is very set in its ways. It resists anything that might challenge the status quo. And that is exactly what transformative surgery does. The social implications are immense. It represents possibly the greatest force for the empowerment of women in all of human history.”

“Empowerment of women?” Despite her disappointment, she had to smile. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see what your transformative surgery could have to do with the movement for women’s rights.”

“Maybe you’ve never thought of it this way, but beauty is power,” Dr. Rome said, with the calm certainty of a man who knows he speaks the truth. “And with enough power, Miss Platford, a woman can achieve anything.”

End of Snippet. Excerpt © Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard.

“A fantastic work of historical fiction. If I could score it higher than five stars, I would.” —

Meet Author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of bestselling historical novels. Her 2023 release, Sisters of Castle Leod, is an Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (Historical Biographical Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction), winner of the 2023 Maxy Award for Historical and Adventure Fiction, and an Editors’ Choice of the Historical Novel Society. Her biographical novel Temptation Rag (2018) was hailed by Publishers Weekly as a “resonant novel . . . about the birth and demise of ragtime . . . in which romance and creative passions abound.” Elizabeth’s 2017 historical mystery-suspense-thriller, The Beauty Doctor, was a finalist for the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award. The book’s re-release (Jan. 4, 2024) features a stunning new cover and an Author Preface with insights into social and moral issues of the Edwardian era that frame this shocking fictional story set in the early days of cosmetic surgery. Before becoming a full-time author, Elizabeth was executive editor of an international aesthetic surgery journal, and senior consultant to the National Cosmetic Network in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University’s plastic surgery educational program. Learn more about Elizabeth and her books at


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