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Whispers in the Reading Room

(Chicago World's Fair Mystery #3)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,142 ratings  ·  325 reviews
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 t
Paperback, 335 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Zondervan
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Sep 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2015
DNF at 45%.

I fell for the cover but realized while I read that this just wasn't a book for me. I usually like historical fiction, and this book looked to be an interesting mix of romance and mystery, but frankly it's just too much romance and not even a romantic story that appeals to me. I have read (well skimmed towards the end) almost half the book and not much has happened and the romance between the main characters just doesn't work for me. So I will stop reading and find something else inst
Paige  Bookdragon

Da fuck. What a let down.

I was so disappointed with this book. It started as something really great, you know. Two people with nothing in common except being a book lover. The hombre is a rich dude who owns a gambling club, the girl is a librarian, the epitome of goodness and light.

Cliche as it may sound, I love the first 30% of the story. The hero has dry wit and there's a chemistry between the characters before they even talk. It's just like, you can feel something in the air every time their
This book is certainly not what I expected! I really enjoyed it and was sorry when it ended. Books with libraries and librarians and bibliophiles in them? Yes, please! Can't ever get enough of them! Mix in a sweet love story and I'm hooked. I found myself reading this in one day and didn't want to put it down. Lydia and Sebastian were fun, and interesting, to read about! Lydia, a librarian in her own lonely world, meeting a man like Sebastian, a man who owns such an really mad ...more
Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)
Loved it! This book is so well-written with it's subtle peeling back of the layers of the plot. There is a sense of mystery from the beginning that kept me fully engaged. The setting is wonderful- I absolutely love libraries! The depiction of Chicago at the turn of the century is also subtle, the author avoids making it a cliche or caricature of the city. Lydia feels that she is plain and on the fringes of society, but accepts who she is as a person and embraces her interests. One of the things ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I haven't read the first two books in this series, but after reading this one I don't have any plans on reading them. While I found the prologue to be very interesting, after that the story was pretty boring (at least to me). I never cared about the characters, the romance, or even the mystery. The ending was okay; but, by the time I finally got around to it, I just wanted the book to be over. Maybe if I had read the first two books I would have enjoyed this more, but I don't think so. All in al ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Set in Chicago in 1894, where we first meet Lydia Bancroft, the librarian and primary caretaker of the reading room, and Sebastian Marks, the intriguing gentleman who seems to really see her.

I'm somewhat bemused by this as a Zondervan mystery title - there isn't much to call it "Christian", nor is it really a mystery, while the romance angle seems more like randomly showered confetti hitting everyone in its path. Those factors, plus a few errors (view spoiler)
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tn-reads, ugh
What I liked best about this book?

The cover.

I am so disappointed. If this is Christian fiction, I hope they change that label.

Spoilers ahead with detail about much of the book. If you really liked this book you may not like what I have to say. I’m blunt, so...

(view spoiler)
Lydia Bancroft is a very unconventional lady - not only is she yet to be married, but she also works as a librarian and relishes her work there. Despite finding satisfaction in the lending library, she can't help but be drawn to a mysterious library patron. After an alarming incident between her and her fiance takes place, witnessed by this mysterious patron, her life takes a strange, exciting turn.

The unique premise of this novel and the unusual circumstance of Lydia being a librarian drew me i
Andrea Cox
This book felt evil and dark throughout. Because of that, I could not connect with it at all. I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters because they made stupid choices the whole way through, often compounding their own problems by choosing to "forget" they were "concerned" about their reputations or that they were under investigation (why would someone purposefully commit a crime when under investigation for another one???). The leading man was overly bossy and controlling. I' ...more
Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)
This book was a bit different from the other two books in the series. It had less of a mystery, though still plenty of suspenseful moments to be had, and focused more on the relationships of the characters. It also didn't focus as much on the division of the classes, following instead two people who were "almost a lady" and "almost a gentleman". (Along those lines, Lydia's indignant reply of, "I am not a lady, Lieutenant Howard. I am a librarian," made me laugh out loud!)

Though Whispers in the
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh mercy -- if you are looking for a hero to swoon over, Sebastian Marks is your man. I melted into a puddle of goo a number of times while reading Whispers in the Reading Room. I mean who can resist a man who loves books and libraries? And the kicker is that Sebastian isn't your classic hero material. He runs a gambling hall for goodness sakes! And while his ability to drag himself up from the dregs of society is commendable, his methods of success are questionable.

But Gray makes it work -- l
Galaxy Adventurer
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, this one was pretty good but, it's probably my least favorite out of the three. It didn't have as much mystery as the first two. I did like seeing some of the characters from the previous books. I also liked the library scenes, those were probably some of my favorite parts from the book. (view spoiler) Overall it was a pretty ...more
Carole Jarvis
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reviewed at The Power of Words:

Every once in a while, a book that is uniquely different appears in the Christian market, and Whispers in the Reading Room is one of those. Lead characters are realistically flawed and complex, the writing sparkles in places, and the historical setting is vividly conveyed. Sebastian, a charismatic leading man, has a questionable career, much of the action takes place in a seedy section of Chicago, there’s a formal style of communicating, and L
SUMMARY: 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 tha
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015

I have really enjoyed this series by Shelley Gray. The setting in and around the Chicago World’s Fair is always so interesting, there’s always mystery and suspense and of course Gray’s ability to keep you intrigued.

Overall I enjoyed this story. Unlike her last two there was a different vibe with the characters. They weren’t exactly what I was expecting, especially Sebastian. He was a character that wasn’t your normal lead. Yeesh, I really want to give specifics, but I’m not a book hater or
I unfortunately had to DNF this one, which is really disappointing as these characters were BY FAR my favorites (other than the whole lonely librarian thing, really sick of that trope). But that was not enough to save this book. It seriously took over 50% for ANYTHING to happen. The characters from this book and the action from the first book should be combined. The second one could just be skipped. Really disappointed in the ending to this series. I would write a longer review, but frankly don' ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whispers in the Reading Room was quite a pleasant surprise for me. I have to admit. I have read a few books by this author that I did not care for, but this book quickly has become one of my favorites of 2015. I want to go back to reading others of the series and even find more by this author. Apparently, I have been missing something.
Awesome read!
5 stars.
Natacha Ramos
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I totally judged this book by its cover. I liked it very much and decided to give it a chance. I had no idea it belonged to a series.

Then, I read some bad reviews and held very low expectations but I began anyway.

I’m glad I did. I was not disappointed.

Great story!

Beautifully written! Well-developed characters.

If a book talks about books, words or reading, you are half the way with me.


I enjoyed the setting and the very polite manners. I hadn’t read dialogues this formal before and It was interest
Courtney Clark
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you are intrigued by the Gilded age, the World's fair in Chicago, or just a good old suspense with a bit of wit, this book might be for you!

My thoughts: This book was quite entertaining with a swift-moving plot and vivid characters, though not quite a favorite in the genre. The witty dialogue was fun, and I really enjoyed the bit of dry humor thrown in (especially concerning Sebastian's logical/analytical personality vs. some very emotional women). It also had a good cast of secondary charact
Savanna Kaiser
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This story started with sparks and kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could read them. I loved the hero and heroine and their bond over books. Who doesn’t love to read about a character who loves books as much as we do, right? ;) AND it’s set in a library! The mystery of this tale, along with the romance and unique historical setting, is one I won’t easily forget.

I was pulled into the intrigue and suspense of it all, but throughout the book it was the love story that fully captured my hea
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am not overly fond of historicals in any subgenre, but I enjoy Ms. Gray's Amish stories, so I thought to give this a try when it was offered. I haven't read the first two books in this series, but WHISPERS IN THE READING ROOM easily stands alone.

I did do a lot of skimming in parts as I read this book, as it wasn't engaging enough for me to devour every word. The conversation was stiff, but it might've been the way people talked back then. Mr. Marks was a rags to riches story, though he didn't
Dec 24, 2015 added it
This book has a dark, brooding nature to it and is beyond intriguing! Lydia hardly seems the sort of woman who would capture the attention and heart of club owner, Sebastian Marks, but that is precisely what happens. She has led a dull and boring, though peaceful life until she meets Mr. Marks in the "reading room"....the library where she works as head librarian. She loves to discuss books and he loves books. They seem a match made in heaven in the reading room, but outside these walls, just b ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-for-review
I went into this book thinking it wouldn’t be for me — it’s set during the Chicago World’s Fair, which hasn’t interested me in the past. But, was I wrong or what? I ended up loving this book! It pulled me in quickly and I was engaged throughout. I absolutely loved the witty characters and the smart dialogue, as well as the mysterious feeling that not all had ever been revealed. At any given moment, some new twist could surprise me, and I was riveted. (But where are Lydia’s glasses on this cover? ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Whispers in the Reading Room
4.5 stars

Wow! What can I say? Could saying that I LOVED reading this book suffice? Probably not. I haven't read many books by this author but the ones I have read I was pretty impressed with.

For some strange reason, I relish reading books about librarians. I don't know why. Strange. Anyway, some of the best novels I've read with librarians as heroines were, Wonderland Creek,To Win Her Heart, Beyond all Dreams,and finally Whispers in the Reading Room. The Library has t
Tressa (Wishful Endings)
4.5 Stars

WHISPERS IN THE READING ROOM was engaging from the first page to the last. With well-drawn characters, witty dialogue that included a play on words, a constant feeling of coming danger, a leading man who is a mystery, and a budding romance, the story was so much more than expected. A delicious read, inspiring, dramatic, and romantic, and one not easily forgotten.

From the first chapter I knew I would thoroughly enjoy this book! I loved the initial library setting. I loved that both Lydi
Maureen Timerman
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Shelley Gray has gifted us with one more story with the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair. We meet some of the people from previous books, mainly our favorite policemen, who are vigilantly doing their duty.
This books focuses on Lydia, a sweet, smart, young woman, whom her mother’s focus is to pull them out of the poverty after the death of her father left them in, with a good society marriage. I felt rather sorry for Lydia, she was put in an awkward position, but that is the root of this sto
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a unique story! I found Whispers in the Reading Room to be a very creative novel that kept me intrigued from start to finish.

Sebastian Marks is not what readers will be expecting in a hero. He is feared, he is powerful, and he has pulled himself up from a horrible beginning. I did still like him, even though part of me didn’t want to. But, I did appreciate the way he slowly grew emotionally throughout the story.

I liked Lydia a lot. I really felt for her. She was in such a bad situation, bot
Cara Putman
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray is a book that will pull you in... Lydia's world isn't perfect, but seems to be settling into good lines. She's engaged to a wealthy man who can provide for her and her mother. She has a job at a reading room that she loves. And there's a mysterious man who visits the reading room. Sebastian's life seems to be going well, but he's...bored. Then he intervenes in a tense situation in Lydia's life and their paths cease intersecting and collide. Told in t
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 Stars!
I really liked this book a lot. I'm not sure what it is, but I love books set in the late 19th century. Of course, I definitely would not have wanted to live then.

This book is a romance, but there is absolutely no sex. The showing of one's hand and ankle is about as sexual as you get in this book.

There was some mystery and a lot of light suspense as the newspaper reports several people being killed in the alley where Lydia's library romance works.

I don't want to give too much away. Only
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This is subtitled as a mystery, but it's much heavier in the romance department (not an issue for me since I love romance!). That said, the problems I had with this book were entirely wrapped up in this romance. It's pure Rescue Fantasy. The forceful, domineering hero determined to "protect" the heroine and keep her on a gilded pedestal. He's borderline controlling and she is so painfully naive that I wanted her to get run over by a street car before I got halfway through the book. Given that sh ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 May 02, 2015 11:54AM  

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also publishes under the name Shelley Shepard Gray (Amish fiction, Christian fiction).

I live in southern Ohio with my husband, two teenagers, and two dogs. My days are filled with busy activities like most any other mom and housewife. But I also love to write books.

Each morning, after my kids go off to school, I sit at my desk, look out my window, and dream of other places. The hours fly by as I m

Other books in the series

Chicago World's Fair Mystery (3 books)
  • Secrets of Sloane House (Chicago World's Fair Mystery, #1)
  • Deception on Sable Hill (Chicago World's Fair Mystery, #2)

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