Shhh...Whispers Only in the Reading Room

"...she realized they were kindred spirits, even though...she was an engaged woman..." (2)

Title:  Whispers in the Reading Room
Author:  Shelley Gray
Publisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  November 10, 2015



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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


Honestly, Shelley Gray had me with the title, Whispers in the Reading Room, and the cover.  I was overtly excited about this book, that caused a raised eyebrow from my husband. Then come this on the second page:
"She still remembered the expression on his face last week when he'd finished and closed the last tome.  He'd looked pleased and just a bit melancholy.  She knew those dual feelings well - the satisfaction of completing a well-written piece of literature while also coming to terms with the fact that those few moments of pure bliss would soon be replaced with a longing for more." (2)
Now, readers, book lovers, book nerds, book worms, whatever you call yourself, does that not speak to you?  Does those words from Shelley not represent truly who you are and how you feel about books and stories? Well, it sure did to me. I had to take a moment to smile and think, 'O, Lydia, that makes you and I, and Sebastian kindred spirits too!'  We need to add in Shelley too, since those words are technically written by her.

Image of and from the Brooklyn Museum Reading Room
Did you see the top quote at the beginning of this post? Uh-oh is right. Then read the synopsis? A murder mystery on top! Now how will our characters get out of this one? A mystery alright.  I had a blast with this one. Not necessarily for the mystery aspect (it's there), but more so the characters. The characters speaks to me. The spunk, yet naivete of Lydia, the mysterious and sometimes brusqueness of Sebastian, yet mixed with a bit of confused emotions, the insecurities of both Vincent and Bridget, not to mention the disdain of Mrs. Bancroft compelled me to move forward each page at a time.  Sometimes I find Lydia endearing, yet other times a bit of annoyance at her creeps up. "Stand up to your mother's attempt to marry you off to an abuser!" There's also Sebastian's pushy heroic attempts, which is kind of appealing at times.  I also must mention Bridget and Vincent. I like them. As supporting characters, they round up nicely with our two main characters with their own stories to tell.  They add to what we know and would like to know about Lydia and Sebastian.

Whispers in the Reading Room is part of The Chicago World's Fair Mystery, the third book after Secrets of Sloane House and Sable Hill.  I take it that each of these will feature Captain Ryan and Lieutenant Howard, and their journeys to love and faith.  Whispers in the Reading Room is a standalone book, but there are mentions and appearances by Captain Ryan and Lieutenant Howard, and from their minor presence, I am already interesting in reading their stories.  With that said, the addition of Ryan and Howard, and even some of the patrons of the club, the theme of friendship plays a role in who each of them are and to how the plot runs. Different levels and different meanings to different people and how these friendships tied with their faith in God lends itself to the finale.

In all, Whispers in the Reading Room is a book I would recommend. Shelley's mixture of suspense, danger and romance made this story near irresistible. To have a tad bit more beyond the glasses in the final scene would deem it perfect. You'll know what I mean when you get there.

NOTE:  I received a complimentary copy through Litfuse Publicity Group and NetGalley for an honest review.  For more information, please see my Disclosure page.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


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 bestseller 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.  

website, twitter, facebook



  1. Wow! Whispers in the Reading Room is going to be a best seller from this review. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Your reviews are always so fun to read, Annie, and this is another enticing one. I haven't read any of this series yet, but this one is in my review stack and now I can't wait.

  3. Thanks Marilyn. It really was a fun read. =)

  4. Thank you, Carole! I'm glad you enjoy reading my reviews. I don't think you'll be disappointed and like me, you mike go add the first two onto your TBR list too!


Thank you for commenting. If you don't have any of the accounts listed in the pull down menu, just comment using "Anonymous" and put your name/nickname in the comment. Happy reading!