Patricia Bernstein

A Noble Cunning

The Countess and the Tower

About the Book

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England – 1716


“The snow still blew hard and the drifts gathered and shifted so that I was in terror of missing the road…”

Bethan Glentaggart is so desperate to save the life of her husband Gavin that she is traveling alone from Scotland to London through the worst snowstorm in recent memory. Gavin languishes in a Tower of London cell while the date of his beheading rapidly approaches. He is to die for joining the rebellion against the new German king. A Catholic in viciously anti-Catholic England, Bethan has only her wits and her devoted women friends to support her against the power of a cruel government. But who has ever escaped the Tower of London? Can she possibly succeed?

A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower is based on the true story of Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, who made up her mind that, despite all the forces arrayed against her, nothing would stop her from saving her husband from the executioner’s axe.

The Players

Portrait (left) of Winifred Herbert Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, the inspiration for Bethan Glentaggart in A Noble Cunning. Many of the events in the novel mirror actual events in Winifred’s dramatic life.  Although she and her family were members of the nobility, they suffered severe persecution for their devotion to the Catholic faith.
The Maxwells (Countess and Earl of Nithsdale)

Portrait (right) of William Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale, the real-life model for Gavin Glentaggart in A Noble Cunning.

Portraits of Winifred and William Maxwell by permission of the Traquair House Charitable Trust.


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“Your book immerses readers in the intricacies of the culture, beliefs, and standards of its time and skillfully portrays the geographical setting and the multifaceted struggles, triumphs, and challenges each character faces…”
Benjamin Franklin Awards presented by the IBPA
(Independent Book Publishers Association)

A gripping story…riveting read…hard to put down.”
Historical Novel Society

“Thinking outside the box…”
Houston Chronicle

“Suspenseful.  Gripping.”
OpenBook Posts Review

“…utterly exquisite.” Five star review
Readers’ Favorite

“…speaks reverently about resistance at the most individual level.”
Houston Chronicle Preview

“…determination and vulnerability won me over.”
Manhattan Book Review

“…captured my attention from first dramatic scene…”
Book Addiction Review

“a rousing tale…hard to put down.”
Books, Cooks, Looks

“…high stakes suspense grounded in true history.”

Engaging…Immersive…Difficult to put down.”
Avonna Loves Genres

“A must read…”
Book Reviews by Smitha

“Vivid account…should inspire Sisterhood.”
Book Reporter

“…Bernstein has crafted an engaging historical novel.”
Write Around The Corner

“Rich…fascinating read.”
Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

“Beautifully written… A Perfect 10”
Romance Reviews Today

“Riveting read…Five stars”
History From A Woman’s Perspective

“Fascinating historical read…”
Reading is My Remedy

“…story pulls me in quickly…”
Cover Lover Book Review

“Based on a fabulous little-known story.”
Book Study Digest

“…gifted storytelling.”
Coffee and Ink



  • Leslie Carroll, author of Notorious Royal Marriages

  • Karen Brooks, International Best-selling Author of The Good Wife of Bath and The Locksmith’s Daughter

  • Gillian Bagwell, author of The September Queen

  • Sister Jane Meyer, OP., Former Head, St. Agnes Academy, Houston all-girl secondary school
  • Kathleen Kent, NY Times Bestselling author of The Heretic’s Daughter  

  • David Blixt, author of What Girls Are Good For and Her Majesty’s Will

The Details

Published: March 7, 2023
Publisher: History Through Fiction
Formats: EbookPaperbackHardcover

Genres & Tropes
Historical Fiction, Inspired by a True Story, Jacobite Rebellion, Scotland, Scottish History, England