Sisters of Castle Leod by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard’s newly released novel, Sisters of Castle Leod, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club.

The count and Mama, their eyes glued to each other like long-lost lovers, began making their way through the crowd, no doubt assuming we were behind them. But neither the man I’d been invited to call Demetrius nor I had moved from where we stood.

“Lady Cromartie,” he said quietly, “I admire your choice of costume. We make somewhat of a pair, do we not?”

I steeled myself for a long night of small talk. I had hoped to let Mama do the socializing for both of us, but that was not to be. “I told the costume-maker I wished to come as an ancient Phoenician. She said a modern Indian would have to do.”

“Ha! Well, no one here would know the difference. To most Westerners, an Arab is the same as a Persian or an Indian. And the Phoenicians?” He gave a little snort. “A shame that one of the greatest civilizations in human history is largely forgotten. Rarely a topic of drawing room conversations, is it? None I have heard.”

From his comment, I gathered he was as bored by vacant chatter as was I. “You have a fondness for the Phoenicians?”

His lip curled slightly. “You might say that.”

“I’ve done some research about them myself. You see, I’m a writer—or I once aspired to be,” I added, reminding myself that nothing in my life was as it used to be. “I thought I might someday write a novel set in Tyre, just before the invasion of Alexander.”

There was a glint in his eyes, which I took as a sign that he found my idea compelling. “I could tell you many things about the ancient island port of Tyre. Things not in any of the books you have read. I used to study archeology,” he said, again with that enigmatic smile.

“But there aren’t many traces left of the Phoenicians, are there?”

“Lady Cromartie—” He raised a finger to his lips. “Hold your questions. I am happy to answer them all, but this is not the place. Allow me to take you for a moonlight ride along the winding canals of Venice, and you can ask me whatever you like about the Phoenicians. Yes?”

Beneath the veil, my cheeks warmed. He must have assumed I was unmarried. “You’re very kind, but I couldn’t. My mother has the expectation that I’m to be her companion for the evening.”

“Your mother seems more than content to be in the count’s company.” He gave me a sly wink. “Did you see the way he looked at her? Of course, one could not expect any man to resist a woman as beautiful as your mother. I doubt they’ll remain at the party too much longer.”

His insinuation was hardly subtle. “Count de Minerbi is a gracious host, but I’m sure he has duties besides seeing to my mother’s amusement.”

“Gracious he is, but Lionello always has time for what delights him. Please … forget your mother for a little while. Come with me, and I promise to take your mind off what troubles you.”

“What makes you think I’m troubled?” Did the veil do such a poor job of hiding my melancholy, even from a total stranger?

“We are all troubled, Lady Cromartie—by our struggle to know what is real and what is not.” His eyes locked with mine. “And why we must lose what we most love.”

Finalist in the 2022 American Writing Awards

Millions are fans of Diana Gabaldon’s popular Outlander books and television series, but few know that Gabaldon’s fictional Castle Leoch was inspired by a real Scottish castle, Castle Leod. The two sisters who lived there at the turn of the twentieth century were among the most fascinating and talked-about women of their era.

Lady Sibell Mackenzie is a spiritualist, a believer in reincarnation, and a popular author of mystical romances. Petite and proper, she values tradition and duty. Her younger sister Lady Constance, swimming champion and big game hunter, is a statuesque beauty who scandalizes British society with her public displays of Greek-style barefoot dancing. The differences between the sisters escalate into conflict after Sibell inherits their late father’s vast estates and the title 3rd Countess of Cromartie. But it is the birth of Sibell’s daughter that sets in motion a series of bizarre and tragic events, pitting sister against sister and propelling Sibell on a desperate mission to challenge the power of fate.

Sisters of Castle Leod, by award-winning author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, is the emotionally charged story of two sisters torn apart by jealousy and superstition, and the impossible leap of faith that could finally bring them together.

Sisters of Castle Leod is available on Kindle Unlimited and at
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Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

A former touring musician/songwriter and public relations professional, Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: The Beauty Doctor, “a compelling historical novel steeped in mystery with strong elements of a medical thriller” (Readers’ Favorite, 5 stars), and Temptation Rag: A Novel, a “resonant novel … about the birth and demise of ragtime … luxuriously crafted” (Publishers Weekly). Her books have been finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, National Indie Excellence Awards, and Arizona Literary Contest; they have received 5-star ratings from Readers’ Favorite, Book Readers Appreciation Group, and historical fiction Discovered Diamonds. Elizabeth and her family live near Phoenix, Arizona.

For more information about Elizabeth and her books click on the links below
BookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

More information on the Coffee Pot Book Club and other works of quality historical fiction can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Book Title: Sisters of Castle Leod: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard
Publication Date: 19 January 2023
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Length: 293
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Historical Fiction
Cover Art:  oil on glass painting, © Alison Hale

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