Review: Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

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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 enjoyed this book even if it felt a bit rushed in some of the important places. I tend to get bored with romance novels pretty quickly, so the addition of a murder mystery into the “opposites attract” formula of a romance was a welcome one. The strength of the novel actually was the historical aspect and the preliminary addressing of the murder. The romance itself felt rushed as the book set up a good amount of time dealing with who these people were by themselves, but not so much time addressing why they’d be attracted so strongly to each other with so little interaction. The mystery also promises to be a good catalyst to the romance, but it is so quickly resolved in about two pages at the end that it seemed like the author was just trying to get some sort of ending for it so she could finish the book. On the whole the book was a nice read, but left you wanting just a bit more in some areas.

3 out of 5

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