Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray


First Thoughts: This book didn’t go at all like I expected it to!  It was an enjoyable story, well-paced with a bit of mystery.  This cover is gorgeous and piqued my interest, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy to review. (Thanks, Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild!)  It’s the first I’ve read from this author, and I’ll be looking for more of her books to read.

“I learned long ago that life if full of peaks and valleys.  It takes both to build character.  And, if the Lord is good, one has years to experience both.” ~Sebastian Marks

Plot:  Lydia Bancroft runs the library where she’s often observed a certain gentleman.  While they’ve never been introduced, she finds herself attracted to the stranger, despite being engaged to another.  Then one day, the stranger comes to her rescue.  Sebastian Marks isn’t the man Lydia thinks he is, and he’s certain that as soon as she finds out his secret, their blossoming friendship will be over.  Meanwhile, Lydia struggles with the choice to marry her cruel fiancé or face financial ruin, as she’s running out of family heirlooms to sell off.

Characters:  While I enjoyed the storyline, the characters could have been better.  Lydia wasn’t a very strong heroine and there was one pivotal scene in the book where I felt she was acting out of character, but it was crucial to the plot of the book, I suppose.  Sebastian is quite the scoundrel. He runs a gentleman’s club, with drinking and illegal gambling.  I thought that this was a perfect set-up for him to have a great conversion, but I was a little disappointed that the author steered clear of any spiritual themes.  I really enjoyed having the perspectives of Bridget O’Connell and Vincent Hunt, Sebastian’s employees, included in the story.  They made the book better.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend this book as a clean romance with a little bit of mystery.  For those more sensitive readers, there is a little discussion of prostitution, although nothing of the sort takes place in the story.  It didn’t bother me, but it’s not something my grandma would have enjoyed.

Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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