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Whispers in the Reading Room (The Chicago…
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Whispers in the Reading Room (The Chicago World's Fair Mystery…

by Shelley Gray

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
DNF at 45%.

I fell for the cover but realized while I read that this just wasn't a book for me. I usually like historical fiction, and this book looked to be an interesting mix of romance and mystery, but frankly it's just too much romance and not even a romantic story that appeals to me. I have read (well skimmed towards the end) almost half the book and not much has happened and the romance between the main characters just doesn't work for me. So I will stop reading and find something else instead...

Thanks to Zondervan Fiction and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 14, 2017 |
So many disjointed things to say about this book.

When I started reading this, it was so good, I didn't want to stop. At work yesterday I planned out my race home and worked the cooking and de-spidering of the front hall (don't ask) around getting as much of this book read as possible first. Then, I hit a wall of sorts.

This is a Christian mystery. I don't like reading Christian anything. I am Christian, but my faith is a quiet, private thing I don't feel the need to work into every thought and conversation I have. The way I see it, my faith in God doesn't require a constant reminder. But don't let me get started; the point is, I don't want to read about characters gushing on about God and how he'll take care of everything, or put them on the right path, or whatever it is they think he'll do (two words: free will).

On top of this, it isn't even a mystery; yes, there are dead bodies, and yes, they are suspected of the murder of one of them. But the four main characters never investigate anything; they're too busy courting each other and worrying about reputations and whether or not they're going to go to jail. This is a Christian romance wearing a murder mystery feather in its hatband.

Having said all of that, the book was still very, very readable. The faith in God stuff was only really 4, maybe 5?, short paragraphs interspersed throughout the story, so it was never preachy. Much. Nobody was getting saved, anyway. I'd have been able to ignore it, but Sebastian and Lydia each had to mire me in their internal monologues of "I'm not worthy! I'm not good enough! I don't deserve good things" and in light of the whole Christian angle, the redemption theme became way too heavy-handed, as we went from honest introspection, to wallowing, to drowning in their shortcomings pretty quickly. These issues combined brought my rating down a star. The last half-star was knocked off for lack of any really compelling mystery.

This is the third book of a 3 book series, but each features different characters that only make minor appearances in other books. I was easily able to read this one first and felt no need to play catch-up with previous events.

I doubt I'll buy either of the other books new, but I'd be tempted if I came across them at used book prices. Christian fiction just isn't my thing, but if any of my BL friends enjoys the sub-genre, I can highly recommend this one. Gray is a good writer, and she sucked me right into her characters' lives. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 16, 2016 |
Whispers in the Reading Room
Shelley Gray

Book Summary: 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.

Review: This was a great book! Although I am reading it out of order it was a stand alone and nothing was revealed to ruin the previous books when I get around to reading them. I really liked all the characters, although Lydia’s mother was difficult they were well written. The characters had flaws, like real people. This story held enough suspense that it kept my interest, yet as always Shelley Gray is a great writer and I have not yet read a book of hers that I did not like. I am looking forward to reading the first two books.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Zondervan Fiction for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
  Robin661 | Oct 5, 2016 |
The year is 1893, the Chicago’s World’s Fair has closed, and Lydia’s life centers around her job as a librarian and in pleasing her mother. Left in financial straits when her father died, Lydia must make a successful marriage if she is to restore the family to the lifestyle they had enjoyed before her father died. Though engaged to man from a wealthy family, Lydia can’t help but be intrigued by a mysterious and handsome stranger who frequents her library. When he saves her from an incident involving abuse by her fiancé, they become friends, somewhat. As Lydia learns more about this man of mystery, she is surprised to learn who he is and how he earns a living. This third novel in this series has little do with the actual fair, but is long on interesting characters, intriguing plot twists, and mystery. All in all, a very well done series. ( )
  Maydacat | May 9, 2016 |
When I requested this book I did not realize it was the third in a series, however I was surprised to find that that did not matter. It is my understanding that the mysteries all take place in the same area in the same time period but are about different characters. So Lydia and her mysterious reading room patron were a whole new story and I was immersed from the beginning.

The story is told from a lot of different points of view - Lydia, who seems to be the main character and were all the focus ends up; Sebastian, the male lead, as well as a maid and an assistant who really build on Sebastian's story and persona. I think that this was an interesting way to tell this story. Lydia is a dainty character, although very strong for what she is going through and Mr. Marks is there to be her protector whether she wants him or not. Now the other point of views really are there to lend to Mark's persona and how he became who he is and how he operates and it was refreshing almost to see other characters feel things about him. I really liked the characters interactions and how their point of views played through the tale.

Now this was supposed to be a mystery and I didn't really see anything mysterious happening. There is a murder but not until about 3/4 through the book and then it is obvious at least who had not done it. That being said, not the greatest as far as a mystery book goes but the romance was very nice. ( )
  sszkutak | Jan 22, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0310338492, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 09 Jul 2015 14:23:11 -0400)

"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 ... 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"--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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