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.
A saloon and gambling den owner is not often the swoon worthy hero in christian historical fiction but in this case, that's exactly who Lydia ends up falling in love with. Not that she had any idea who he was in the beginning but she comes to accept what he does -- and he cleans up his act somewhat in the end but I don't want to say too much about that. It's funny because there's a big line drawn in the story between him and other club owners because he doesn't employ prostitutes and while that is huge, it still would have been a big problem to any upstanding citizen at that point in time that he sold liquor (and drank it) and had an illegal gambling den in the basement. Oh, but the police knew about it and kept quiet because he was kind and also gave them bribes. What? There seemed to be a lot of rationalizing why what he did was ok (and why Lydia didn't make much of a stink when she found out). He is a likeable fella, I'll give you that. Apparently tall dark and handsome too.
It really is a strange tale. Lydia is a pitiable creature in a somewhat miserable existence with drastically reduced means a harpie for a mother so I can see how Sebastian's arrival in her life brings with it a welcome amount of interest and excitement but the whole story is quite odd. I enjoyed it but I couldn't completely suspend the voice of reality in my head as I read. I loved the first two books in the series and I wish the author had continued on with one of the characters from those books - two familiar detectives make appearances but that's all this book has to do with the other two. It didn't feel like part of the same series at all. Not at all.
I received this book from BookLook and Zondervan for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own.