Tag Archives: Shelley Gray

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 http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.


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.)

Book Review: Among The Fair Magnolias

6 Aug

51mx7tavsmL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_In the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women—destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war—face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart.

An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray

When Russell Champion returns to Broken Arrow, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers she’s very ill, and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

Emily has a secret: She’s in love with one of the freedmen on her family’s plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.


FairMagnolias-320.pngTamera Alexander is the best-selling author of numerous books including A Lasting Impression and The Inheritance. Tamera is a two-time Christy Award winner, two-time RITA winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Library Journal Award.

A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels.

Shelley 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.

Elizabeth Musser, a native of Atlanta, Georgia now living in France, is a novelist who writes what she calls entertainment with a soul. For over 25 years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in mission work with International Teams.

Find out more about Alexander, Gray, Love, Musser at http://www.thomasnelson.com/among-the-fair-magnolias.


My Impressions:

Four talented historical romance authors come together to bring stories of hope and love set amidst the change and turmoil of the American South in the mid-1800s. Each novella-length offering in Among The Fair Magnolias is what you would expect from Dorothy Love, Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray and Elizabeth Musser — heart-filled stories featuring characters to cheer for. For fans of historical romance, it doesn’t get much better than this!

All four novellas are set in the American South either before or after the Civil War. Change comes swiftly, and the characters learn to reach for their dreams as they rebuild their lives. Settings include South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas and give the reader an insight into the challenges faced by those living in this era in our country’s history. Main characters scale obstacles in their lives as they reach out to their true loves. The authors tackle such issues as race relations and the mending of a splintered North and South. Strong faith messages run throughout, as the characters struggle with family duty, worthiness and purpose. I enjoyed all four of the stories and am glad that Thomas Nelson brought these authors together for this project.

Perfect for fans of historical romance, each standalone novella is a quick read, yet with a depth of characterization and plotting usually only found in full-length novels. A good bet for end of summer reading.


Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

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