Book Review: Whispers in The Reading Room

14 Dec

Whispers-in-the-Reading-Room-252x384Lydia’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.

SGray-342Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio.

Find out more about Shelley at


My Impressions:

History and mystery combine in author Shelley Grey’s latest novel, Whispers in The Reading Room. With engaging characters, interesting historical details and a unique love story, this one is sure to appeal to Grey’s long time fans as well as new readers. A recommended read!

Lydia Bancroft loves nothing more than her position at the lending library. A mysterious patron piques her interest but she knows that family duty comes before her own dreams. Sebastian Marks has made his mark in Chicago. Power, wealth and intimidation have made him feared, if not respected, by the elite of the city. But the quiet librarian in charge of the reading room captures his imagination and his heart.

Whispers in The Reading Room has great, if unconventional, characters. Sebastian is a man of contrasts. He has worked hard to disguise his roots and appear to be a gentleman. But his business ventures and tactics eliminate his entrance into genteel society. Lydia is part innocence and part steel. Quiet and obedient, she is also intelligent and determined. Secondary characters are almost as strong, and I enjoyed the scenes with Sebastian’s assistant, Vincent, and personal maid, Bridget. There are a few themes that bring depth to the novel. The untrustworthiness of appearances is a thread throughout. Wealth, family name and societal position do not make a gentleman, just as place of birth do not doom one to disrepute. Friendship is another theme. I liked that Sebastian and Lydia became friends first. And while the characters often felt alone, their true friends were there all the time. More of a book with an historical setting rather than a strict historical novel, Whispers in The Reading Room had all the flavor of Chicago in the late 1890s — progressive changes along with past problems and societal ills.

A quick and entertaining read, I very much enjoyed Whispers in The Reading Room.


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Zondervan and LitFuse for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

5 Responses to “Book Review: Whispers in The Reading Room”

  1. Carrie December 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    great review! I really enjoyed this book!

    • rbclibrary December 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks! I can now go back and read your review! I don’t like to read other reviews before I write mine.

      • Carrie December 15, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

        I don’t either too often

  2. Being Woven December 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    Sounds good! I love history interwoven in the novel.

    • rbclibrary December 22, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      It is part of a series (I have not read the other books), but can be read as a standalone. Thanks for stopping by!

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