Whispers In The Reading Room, by Shelley Gray
I love fluffy books- almost consider myself a connoisseur of fluff. And can I just say, Whispers In The Reading Room is some of the best fluff I've read in a long time.
If you aren't a fan of predictability, I can't recommend this book. It's got all the great qualities of a sappy Hallmark movie- sweet, emotional, romantic, with a more or less predictable plot, in some respects, anyway. The murder mystery part had me guessing till the end, but I'm mostly oblivious to a lot of things like that.
I cannot tell you how much I loved this book! Lydia Bancroft is used to her reading room and working hard to hold her place in society through her and her mother's rapidly depleting wealth. She's your standard good girl, following her mother's wishes to the letter. Things start looking up for the Bancrofts when Lydia gets engaged to a wealthy, high-standing member of society, Mr Jason Avondale. But there's a stranger in her reading room that she can't quite get out of her mind- Sebastian Marks, master of mystery.
Through various circumstances, Lydia allows herself to cautiously befriend the mysterious gentleman, drawn to his gentle, caring ways and chivalry. But he's not good for her social standing- especially after she finds out that under all the mystery lies the owner of one of the most prestigious gambling clubs in Chicago. Lydia ignores the warnings of her 'friends' in high Chicago society and chooses to befriend Sebastian anyway.
Lydia's a pretty stubborn girl, once she's made up her mind, and she convinces Sebastian to take her to his club one night, That one night is all it takes, though, and suddenly everything Lydia's ever known is blurred before her eyes when a murder is committed outside Sebastian's club. No one is who they seem to be and Lydia has to decide if she can trust the man everyone in town seems to fear. Can she act against her natural instinct and follow her heart? What other secrets surround Sebastian and Jason? Is either of them to be trusted?
Shelley Gray has molded relatable yet unique characters true to their time, and I truly fell in love with the story. The underlying mystery combined with a dash of romance finish out the novel as one you'll always leave room for on your shelf.