Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

The Beauty Doctor

“Perhaps 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, one can achieve anything.”

In the spring of 1907, Abigail Platford finds herself unexpectedly adrift in New York City. Penniless and full of self-doubt, she has abandoned her dream of someday attending medical school and becoming a doctor like her late father. Instead, she takes a minor position in the office of Dr. Franklin Rome, hoping at least to maintain contact with the world of medicine that fascinates her. She soon learns that the handsome and sophisticated Dr. Rome is one of a rare new breed of so-called beauty doctors who chisel noses, pin back ears, trim eyelids and inject wrinkles with paraffin. At first skeptical, she begins to open her mind, and then her heart, to Dr. Rome. But when his partnership with an eccentric collector of human oddities raises troubling questions, Abigail becomes ensnared in a web of treachery that challenges her most cherished beliefs about a doctor’s sacred duty and threatens to destroy all she loves.

This thought-provoking and suspenseful tale examines timeless themes of beauty, power, and what it truly means to be human. The story unfolds with an extraordinary cast of characters, including Abigail Platford, a young woman determined to defy Edwardian society’s expectations of her; the talented and ambitious beauty doctor, Franklin Rome; Joe Radcliff, a brilliant inventor obsessed with power; Russian Countess Alexandra Gagarin and her cross-dressing female companion; and Baron Ludwik Rutkowski, guardian of the rare and beautiful conjoined twins from Spain, Melilla and Valencia Rosa.