The Beauty Doctor
* 2nd Edition Publication *
Publication Date: January 4th, 2024 (2nd edition)
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Historical Mystery / Suspense
Audiobook narrator: Lisa Bozek
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.
Praise for The Beauty Doctor:
Excerpt from Chapter Twelve
Abigail stared down at the injured girl. She was shivering, and her eyes were glazed over. The little whining noise she made sounded like a frightened puppy.
“Aren’t you going to do something?”
“Yes, of course.” She tried to order her thoughts. The necessary sequence was obvious: Stop the bleeding, clean the wound, sew it up. She mustn’t act precipitously. The first part might be easy, but after that ...
“Keep pressing hard on this towel.” She took the boy’s hand and placed it where hers had been. Then she sprang into action, rolling up her sleeves on the way to the metal sink, where she vigorously scrubbed her hands and arms with soap and water. Next, she sterilized a small basin of water in the autoclave and went to the medicine cabinet for a bottle of iodine.
Returning to the table, she took over from the boy. A few more minutes of pressure halted the bleeding. Once it had stopped, she washed out the wound with water and iodine. Thankfully, the bite had missed the artery; still, the repair job would be considerable. She had learned from watching Franklin how to close a wound with finesse, running the stitches in such a way as to minimize the eventual appearance of the scar. But even with her best efforts, the little girl would be badly disfigured. She could only hope there would be no infection to complicate matters further.
A sudden thought gave her pause. What if the dog was rabid? She looked over at the boy. He was leaning against the sink, his arms crossed over his chest, head down.
“Was it a stray dog?”
He looked up with a start. “You won’t tell nobody, right?”
“Who would I tell?”
“The police maybe.”
“Why would the police be interested?”
“They wouldn’t,” he blurted. “But the dog—they might try to take him away. He didn’t mean to do it. He’s a good dog. Really, he is.”
Abigail heard the anguish in his voice, and her heart went out to him. She had always wanted a dog; her mother had forbidden it. “He’s your dog?” she asked gently.
“Yes, ma’am. I found him in the alley. Somebody’d beat him up pretty bad, left him for dead. I took care of him ‘til he got better. My sister—she likes him. Sometimes he licks her face. This time, though ... it was just an accident.”
“Things like that happen sometimes,” she said, trying to reassure him. “You’re certain the dog isn’t sick? Was he acting strangely before?”
“No, ma’am. Not strange at all. Somebody came up behind him and made a loud noise, that’s all. It scared him.”
“All right then.” She could only hope he was telling the truth. “Why don’t you go lie down on the bed in there,” she said, nodding toward the adjacent recovery room. He shuffled off, and within a minute or two she heard him snoring.
So far, her patient had stayed still and mostly quiet. Abigail wasn’t even sure the child heard her soft reassurances. But despite the little girl’s compliance up to now, Abigail would need her unconscious to complete the job; otherwise, the pain of the needle would be intolerable. This was the decision she had dreaded, though she’d already settled her mind on using chloroform. She had observed Franklin administer it several times. But there were dangers. Determining the proper dosage was critical. Too little would not have the desired effect on the central nervous system. Too much could paralyze the lungs, leading to death. In determining the dosage, she must consider that her patient weighed less than fifty pounds.
Her patient. Her responsibility. Was she truly ready? Was she right to take this innocent life into her own hands—acting as a doctor without being one?
Plagued by uncertainty, she went to fetch the chloroform and mask, a nose-shaped metal cage with a hinged rim to hold a cloth in place. Stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound—those things were relatively simple. But anesthesia could be deadly. What if she made a mistake?
She went back to the table and stared down at the child. Such a beautiful little angel entrusted now to her, alone. Suddenly, she was in her father’s office, on that dreadful afternoon when she was called on to make a judgment that would change everything, forever. Her father fell to the floor, hyperventilating, his arms flailing, his body contorted. For a moment, she watched in horror, unable to comprehend what was happening. He had no history of epilepsy. But she must do something! She went to the cabinet, saw the grim reflection of her face in the glass. Opened the door, searched for the bottle of potassium bromide, reached for it ...
Abigail squeezed her eyes shut, so tightly it hurt. Would she never forgive herself? Would she never believe what the others had said—that even a doctor would likely have made the same decision and treated him for epilepsy? There was no way to have known it was his heart.
She opened her eyes and, hands shaking, dripped a small amount of the sweet-smelling liquid onto the cloth. “I’m going to put you to sleep for a little while,” she said in a soft voice. “And when you wake up, you’ll be much better.” She held the mask to the little girl’s nose and mouth. If done properly, the effect should be gradual, possibly taking several minutes, during which she must remain vigilant, focused on the child’s breathing, alert to any irregularity, any sign of weakening.
The seconds ticked by ... one minute, then two, three. The child’s breath stayed steady. Finally, when she thought it must be long enough, she removed the mask.
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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 www.EHBernard.com.
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