Whispers in the Reading Room


Whispers in the Reading Room
Shelley Gray

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 think this was one of those books where I liked the idea of the romance and story more than the actual book itself. I thought it was better than the previous book in the series, and it kept my attention more, but I had a hard time connecting to the plot and the characters. Sometimes I really "got" them, but then a moment later their actions wouldn't make any sense to me. I wish it had focused more on the library and used that route to explore Sebastian and Lydia's relationship; honestly, this was one of those books where I couldn't help imagining what I would do if I was its author.

     Not that the book was terrible, although it does includes several mentions of gambling, drinking, prostitution, etc, which younger readers may wish to be made aware of. The hero was certainly interesting, although I wasn't sure if his characterizations were always consistent, another aspect of the book that plagued other characters beside him. But I did like the other romantic subplots (I always like secondary romances. It's a weakness of mine) and, as I said before, the idea of the story was a good one. It just didn't seem like it was quite filled out to its full potential.

Rating: 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I'm not familiar with this series (other than seeing it around bookish places here and there), but that cover is gorgeous! Sounds like an interesting story accompanies that. :)


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