Monday, November 23, 2015
Whispers in the Reading Room- Shelley Gray
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: I really loved this story, though not as a romance. The characterization and themes were what drew me in and made sure I read it all the way through. While the book is marketed as historical romance, I did not find much to be "romantic" about it. The hero is attentive and gallant but there was not much of a "spark" between the two characters. They don't hold hands, exchange glances, or even kiss until the last page. So if you want a romance, I don't suggest this book.
However, if you are like me and can take or leave the romance because it is the history and characters that you are looking for, then there will be enough romance to make it worth it. Sebastian is one of the most realistic bad boy heroes I have ever read, and I loved him for it. He is not romantic in the slightest but he is fiercely loyal and I loved him for it.
Now Lydia was not my favorite, but the other characters made up for her lack. I found myself wishing the whole series were just stories about these four characters' lives and struggles. Once you get to the end of the story, you see that there is still plenty of room for Sebastian and Lydia to learn and grow as people. I love how Shelley portrayed them as real people, without all their faults and sins fixed and tidied up at the end. It fit well with the end theme of even the most downtrodden and faulty people are not too far gone for God to redeem them.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.