Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelly Gray

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Whispers in the Reading Room

1890s – Illinois

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 Fair to Remember by Suzie Johnson

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A Fair to Remember

1901 – New York

A fair that will never be forgotten…

Clara Lambert attended the Pan-American Exposition as a Kodak girl, never dreaming that she would end up photographing the attempted assassination of President McKinley.

James Brinton, a disgraced police officer now working security at the Expo, wants only to redeem his good name…and perhaps earn a new position with the president’s security.

When Clara is accused of being involved in the assassination attempt, James has to put aside his own ambitions to try to prove the innocence of the young woman who has captured his heart as surely as her camera captures the world before its lens.

But in the face of investigations, arrests, and mounting danger, they must do the hardest thing that could be asked: forgive.

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

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Tiffany Girl

1893 – Illinois

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the Art Students League of New York. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girl is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

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Deception on Sable Hill

1893 – Illinois

The World’s Fair has introduced many new ideas to Chicago society—but can two individuals from very different backgrounds find love together?

It’s mid-September 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning debutant of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago’s wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.

Sean is on the fringes of the Chicago elite. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best chance to ensure security. Despite social boundaries, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean will do anything to keep her safe—even if he can never earn her affections.

Eloisa longs to feel normal again, but a killer is on the loose. In the last month, three debutants have been accosted by an assailant wielding a knife, and Eloisa fears for her safety at every event she attends. As the danger in the city increases, and as the romance between Eloisa and Sean blossoms, they both realize they want to be seen as more than how the world views them. But will they catch the killer before all their hopes come crashing down?

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Shephard Gray

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Secrets of Sloane House

1893 – Illinois

Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family—she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance.

Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society—the lifelong dream of his ailing father.

When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

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It Happened at the Fair
1893 – Illinois

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

Tempest in the White City by Deeanne Gist

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Tempest in the White City: An eShort Prelude to It Happened at the Fair
1893 – Illinois

When a World’s Fair Guard and the woman doctor assigned to treat him square off in the White City, a storm is brewing…
 Hunter Scott is one of the elite. An 1893 Chicago World’s Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and ability to serve and protect. When he is overcome with debilitating abdominal pain, Hunter stumbles to the Fair’s infirmary only to discover the doctor is female—who ever heard of a female doctor? But even worse, she has the nerve to diagnose him, the toughest man west of any place east, with constipation—an unspeakable ailment in mixed company. What will happen when this tough Texan and attractive doctor face off? Either way, a tempest is brewing…

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport

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The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow: (Avenue of Dreams)
1893 – Illinois

Charlotte Farrow, maid in the wealthy Banning household on Chicago’s opulent Prairie Avenue, has kept her baby boy a secret from her employers for nearly a year. But when the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her own past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s tragedies determine the future for her?

This compelling story set against the glittering backdrop of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition captures the tension between the wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable. Author Olivia Newport expertly portrays social classes while creating a story of courage, strength, and tender romance.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport

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The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
 1893 – Illinois

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work–and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago. When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World’s Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family’s expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Readers will love being swept away into a world of mansions, secrets, and romance as they follow Lucy through the streets of the Windy City during one of the most exciting times in the city’s history. From opulent upper-class homes to the well-worn rooms of an orphanage, Olivia Newport breathes life and romance into the pages of history–and everyone is invited.