Saturday, December 19, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Bray

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 by Mirella Patzer
Also visit my other blog: History and Women

This is a charming cozy mystery set in the era of the Chicago's World's Fair, the third book in a series. This novel stands alone and one does not need to read the previous two books to get the full benefit. I think this book captures many things which appealed to me - a charismatic heroine/librarian, an enigmatic hero who is endearing but comes with a secret or two, and of course, an intriguing murder mystery. 

The story unfolds at a steady pace and is an easy read, and it kept me rooting for Lydia and Sebastian and the romance that was developing between them despite the darkness of the murder. The author did an excellent job of building in atmosphere and creating likable characters. The novel has a light air to it, nothing to heavy or provocative or controversial. I liked the fact that the story didn't glamorize Chicago. Rather, we got to see some of the seedier side of the infamous city. It had a good mix of good and bad and rich and poor. 

I liked this book a lot. It's a wonderful cozy mystery/romance for curling up in front of the fire on a cold winter's night. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.