MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Title: Whispers in the Reading Room, Author: Shelley Gray
Shelley Gray
ISBN: 9780310338499
Publisher's Synopsis:
Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.
Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

MrsK's Review:
Have you ever read a book that is so uniquely special you are hesitant to share it? A book that was endearing and yet so "alive" that you want to savor it before others tell you what they thought of it? Forgive me readers, but this was one of those reads. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted time alone with it before opening it up for your discovery.

In October 1893, The Chicago Times-Courier reported that even though the city was enjoying the success of the Columbian Exposition, there were "dark events taking place in the city's underbelly." By January, Lydia Bancroft was focused on cataloging the newest books and preparing for her favorite patrons visit to the library's reading room. She had noticed that last week when he had finished his last book that he looked "pleased and just a bit melancholy" (Oh, how I could relate to this reader's experience). Although Lydia's day begins no differently than any other day, it will prove to be a turning point in every aspect of her life. For today will be the moment in which her favorite patron will catch her off guard with the quietest gesture:
"When she instinctively looked his way, he was gazing at her directly... she gave in to temptation
and allowed herself to meet his gaze. But when one of his eyebrows rose with a look of amusement,
her embarrassment worsened."

With a sense of dread Lydia attends another ball as a way of squelching her mother's fears. For some "unknown" reason she catches the eye of Mr. Avondale. With the delight her mother pushes Lydia into accepting Mr. Avondale's proposal and now her mother assumes that their future will be secure. Yet, Lydia is very concerned about Mr. Avondale's response to their lack of wealth. Surely he will be understanding, after all he "seemed fond enough of her."

On the day that Mr. Avondale takes Lydia to tea at the Hartman Hotel, she notices her patron standing nonchalantly against the wall. Flustered beyond belief, Lydia becomes distracted to the point that a surprised confrontation will change everything about Lydia's future:
"Easy now... Everything is all right now, Lydia.
Nothing was all right. Her patron was holding her too close, too secure...
Her circumstances had certainly not just gotten better."

 Lydia will not be "unguarded" as she walks through her circumstances. Her mysterious patron, Mr. Marks, will become a gentle and resourceful guardian. Given special orders from Mr. Marks, Vincent and Bridget will not only watch over Lydia they will ensure her safety.

What started in the whisper room, continues beyond the Hartman Hotel through the Camp Creek Alley and pass the doors of the Silver Grotto. With poise and determination, Lydia will endure as any true Librarian should... dignified and mostly unruffled. Until the evening of the murder!

Every character is delightfully crafted. The historical settings and fashionable attires adds perfection to "setting the scene!" Conversations are quick witted, often snippy and snobbish. Yet, there are many moments in which the characters will add their uniquely "seasoned" quips to satisfy any tense moment.

Take a journey back to 1894 with a Librarian that will offer you the right story for your leisurely reading,
"Tell me, Miss Bancroft, do your books whisper warnings about befriending men like me?"
Sebastian Marks
Quite irresistible!

 Chicago World's Fair Mystery's

SloaneHouse_300  deception-on-sable-hill_shelley-gray
Meet the Author:
 4web  I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.
Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.
I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.
Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.

Brides of Pinecraft

"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

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