Journal

Whispers in the Reading Room

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.

**I received a copy of this book from Zondervan and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

A bit of mystery and intrigue blend into this tale of love and identity. Whispers in the Reading Room is a wonderfully mysterious book and I adored it!

Novels with memorable characters are usually the best, I find. And the two leads of this book (and a couple of the secondary characters) are just wonderful. Sebastian Marks is a man who has created a new identity for himself–one that is far different from who he grew up as. Lydia Bancroft is forced to play the role of a debutante and keep up a charade that is no longer true. I adored both of these characters. Both are trying to be true to themselves and make their way in the world.

The situations that keep pushing them together help make this such an intriguing novel and one that is hard to put down. With murders happening in the slums of Chicago, it’s only a matter of time before one becomes connected to the cast of this book. And when it does, the story only gets better.

I loved this book. It was well-written and had a mysterious vibe to it–whether in relation to the characters, setting or plot. I often felt myself nervous when the characters were in a less than idea situation. I’d highly reccommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction and those who enjoy a little bit of a mystery in their books.

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“We can’t expect only happiness here on earth. One must experience a bit of dirt and grime. Builds character, you see.”

-Sebastian Marks, Whispers in the Reading Room

About the Author:

Since 2000, Shelley has sold over forty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire,Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Shelley also writes historical, western inspirational romances for Abingdon Press as Shelley Gray. Her first novel with Abingdon, A Texan’s Promise, was released in October 2011 and has earned glowing reviews.

In addition to her writing as Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley has written a dozen novels for Harlequin American Romance under the pseudonym Shelley Galloway. Her first novel with Harlequin, Cinderella Christmas, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list, and her second book for the American Romance line, Simple Gifts, won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin American Romance of 2006.

Her written essays have appeared on CNN.com

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Shelley is a member of RWA’s Published Author chapter, ACFW, and the Faith Hope and Love Chapter of RWA.  Please visit www.shelleyshepardgray.com to learn more about Shelley and her books.

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